Despite the 8:00 am, bleary-eyed bus departure and the drizzling autumn rain on the condensation-covered, school bus windows, our vision was clear and focused: the Varsity Blues had our sights set on an undefeated, regular season record. Our opponents, Hillfield Strathallan College, would be a difficult nut to crack, especially on their home field, and we knew they would start strong. Sure enough, the first 5 minutes where challenging, as we took some time to adjust to the cold, wet weather and pitch conditions. Their defense was big and strong and presented a formidable back four. None-the-less, we were determined to play our combination of carrying and quick passing and in the 8th minute, we were awarded a penalty when slippery striker Hilli was taken down in the HSC box. Aidan Summer dispatched it confidently: 1 – 0. We continued to press but the HSC keeper made some good saves. It wasn’t until the 37th minute, off a low hard cross from Justin Kim, that stopper Mark Yatchew, pressing forward, scored what was reported to be a “back-heel volley”: 2 – 0. Just before the interval, we were given a free kick well outside the box and Yatchew, seizing the opportunity, took it quickly and scored with a well-placed shot that curled around their still-forming wall, and tucked into the top, right corner of the net. Half-time score: UCC 3 – HSC 0.
The second half saw the introduction of fresh, warm legs and in the 61st minute, Oscar Brown added to his account with a fine goal at the end of one of his characteristic, weaving runs through the defense. In the 71st minute, after Brown was tackled from behind, Adam Sayani sent the goalie the wrong way with a well-taken penalty and his first goal of the season! The home team never gave up and our keeper, Faiz Khwaja, was forced to make some excellent saves to preserve the shut-out. Captain PJ Bujouves was also called upon to shore up the defense and to keep heads cool when things threatened to deteriorate. Finally, also scoring his first goal of the season, a well-positioned Ben Broer, tapped in the ball when their goalie spilled the rebound off a hard shot.
Final score: UCC 6 – HSC 0. Man-of-the-Match: Mark Yatchew.
With this win, we completed our regular season with a record of 9 wins and 0 ties or losses. This is the 4th year in a row that, by finishing the regular season in 1st place, we’ve won the League Championship; an outstanding achievement! Remarkably, in those 9 games this season, we allowed only 3 goals (and scored 41)! Clearly this is a tribute to our outstanding defense, including arguably the best goalkeeper and goalkeeping duo in the league.
Now it’s on to the play-offs. Earning a bye in the quarterfinals, we await the result of those matches to find out whom we play in the semifinal. Our semifinal match will be played at UCC on Friday November 3rd at 2:30. As we all know, the playoffs are a whole new challenge. We’ve wiped the slate clean and are ready to approach the post-season with the same passion, determination and philosophical outlook. Bring on the opposition and as the music on the bus ride home from Hamilton, part of Coach Hamr’s “Starting 11” playlist, says: Que sera sera.