By Jaden Ho
The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold men’s soccer team won a commanding 5-1 victory over the Trent Excalibur on a brisk Sunday afternoon at Downsview Park in the Bold’s season finale and seniors game.
A dominant second half—along with two goals each from fourth-year midfielder Chris Campoli and third-year forward Zakaria Abdi—powered the Bold to victory as the team now heads to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoffs.
“In the second half [Abdi] and [Campoli] linked up very well,” said head coach Filip Prostran. “They compliment each other really well and I think that’s why they have so much success when they play.”
A slow-paced first half saw the Bold control ball possession for long stretches of the game, but they were unable to find ways to create dangerous chances on third-year Trent goalkeeper Evan McLeod.
On the other end, Trent was unable to maintain ball possession for much of the first half. Yet, the Excalibur were able to put up more dangerous chances against first-year TMU netminder Obrad Bejatovic.
Trent capitalized late in the first half as first-year midfielder Andrew Hamilton stole the ball from fifth-year defender Kai Martin. Hamilton stepped into open space outside the TMU box and fired a perfectly placed shot into the top corner, giving Trent the 1-0 lead into halftime.
The Bold rebounded quickly after the slow start as Abdi took the ball up the field in the first minute of the second half, before earning a penalty kick off of a Trent handball. Campoli stepped up to the spot and delivered a rocket to the right of McLeod, equalizing the game at one apiece.
“In the first half it’s clear that we started out a little slow,” said fourth-year forward Karamvir Mehmi, following his final regular season game for the Bold. “In the second half, we had the talk from Filip and we came out with more desire, more fire.”
After tying the game, TMU didn’t look back. Abdi made himself noticeable again, driving into the box and earning the Bold a corner kick. He found a soft spot in the Trent defence on the far post and knocked in a header on the corner to give TMU their first lead in the 49th minute.
With the Bold solidly in control of the game, Abdi was not finished yet. Just one minute later, he took a feed from third-year defender Colin Gander on the left wing, stepped in and powered it in to make the game 3-1.
“I was just thinking we needed a quick response after the slow start in the first half,” Abdi said. “I was just hoping the ball would fall to me and two balls fell to me. I was lucky to bury them both.”
Trent was able to stop the bleeding briefly as they slowed TMU down. However, the Bold’s offence continued to push and struck in the 61st minute. Another pass into the box from Gander created a flurry of chances for TMU. The ball found its way to Campoli, who powered it home to extend the lead to three—making him the OUA-leading goalscorer for this season.
With a three-goal cushion under them, the Bold were content to sit back and slow the game down as the clock ran out until Mauro Lulli found himself in the box alone in the 79th minute. He outmanoeuvred the keeper and added one more insurance goal to the TMU lead.
“In terms of the goals, some nice finishes, a penalty shot, so we’ll take it,” said Prostran.
The Bold would hold on to the four-goal lead for the remainder of the game, closing out their regular season in dominant fashion with playoffs around the corner.
“The prep doesn’t change too much,” said Prostran. “Getting in the right headspace and trying to play our best when it counts most.”
UP NEXT: The Bold will play host to the Nipissing Lakers in the opening round of the OUA playoffs. Kick-off time is to be determined.