Written by Mark Bahensky
Photo by Jojo Qian
TORONTO, Ontario – The Carleton Ravens secured their first OUA championship since 2005 on Saturday evening, defeating the York Lions 3-0. It was a redeeming victory for the Ravens, who were unable to down the Lions in the 2017 and 2018 OUA finals.
“We felt that over the last couple of years we hadn’t been able to put together a consistent effort against them. We knew that if we came out today, kept to our game plan, worked every inch of the field and worked for every minute of the game that we would have a legitimate shot, and we did. When the first goal went in, we built confidence and then guys just kind of fed off of it,” said Ravens head coach Kwesi Loney.
There were few chances through the first 20 minutes of the match, with the Ravens maintaining a majority possession of the ball. The pressure paid off in the 29th minute after a passing play between Stefan Karajovanovic and Gabriel Bitar led to a penalty kick attempt when Bitar was taken down trying to round the Lions’ goalkeeper.
Karajovanovic converted the ensuing penalty, sending Lions’ goalkeeper Mike Argyrides the wrong way before powering the ball just inside the left post.
Quinn Honeyman-Wootton gave the Ravens a 2-0 lead four minutes later off a corner kick. Emad Houache whipped the ball in, finding Honeyman-Wootton at the near post where he beat multiple Lions’ defenders in the air before heading the ball into the top corner of the net.
Goalkeeper Nick Jeffs was called on to maintain the Ravens’ two-goal advantage by making one of his five saves just after halftime, as he parried away a hard strike from the top of the box by Lions’ forward Merci Yuma who was sent in on goal.
Karajovanovic notched his fifth goal of the playoffs in the 69th minute to extend the lead after tapping in a loose ball from a corner kick by Dante Cobisa that Argyrides was unable to control.
Carleton held on for the victory, allowing Cobisa and Houache to represent the Ravens in raising the Blackwood Cup for the third time in school history.
“They’ve been unbeaten for fifty-something games now. It’s always nice to get one back on them and get some revenge from previous years. It definitely feels good to play the best team possible in Ontario and beat them,” said Cobisa of the Lions.
“It’s an incredible feeling, my hat is off to the team. They worked extremely hard all season long, it’s been a long journey, but we kept talking about the process. We kept talking about putting in the right work, putting in the right mentality and the results will come. Every game was a battle for us but getting to this point [and] winning the title has all been worth it,” said Loney.
The Ravens will have a few days to prepare before heading to the U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship in Montreal from November 7-10.
“We have a great group of young guys that have been together now for a couple of years and have a lot of experience. I think we’re peaking at the right time now; we have a lot of chemistry within the team. I think the team is the best it’s ever been over the past 3 seasons, so I think we have a really good chance going in,” added Cobisa.
The team will be looking to win its first national championship after reaching the finals in 1984 and 2002.