Wonder goals sends Blues to final four

University of Toronto men’s soccer team defeat Carleton late on

Nikolay Saveliev stamped University of Toronto Varsity Blues ticket to the OUA final four in spectacular fashion on Sunday afternoon, his glorious free kick eight minutes from time securing a 2-1 quarter-final -victory over Carleton Ravens. The fourth-year student went bar-down from 25 yards after Ravens defender Weber Bourjolly was shown a second yellow card for a last ditch challenge.

I’ve never seen a better goal than that on this field

Fellow graduating teammate David Colelli gave the Blues the lead in the dying embers of a frenzied first half, diverting a set-piece cross from Saveliev but Carleton’s Alex Decouvrier equalized in the 74th minute to set the scene for the dramatic final act.

The result sends the Blues to a final four matchup with the No.1 York Lions for the third consecutive season. Next Saturday’s game will be a repeat of the 2015 semi-final, when the Lions edged a 1-0 win in the second period of extra-time, on route to back-to-back CIS championships.

“I’ve never seen a better goal than that on this field,” said Blues head coach Anthony Capotosto after the game. “The timeliness of the goal was incredible for us but for (Saveliev) to score a goal like that — I don’t know where he’s been hiding that for the last four years.”

Saveliev hails from Nagoya, Japan but moved to Toronto during high school. The Economics/Criminology student now has five goals and three assists on the season.

“I usually don’t take direct free kicks but I’ve been practicing over the summer,” said the five-foot-eleven midfielder.

Just seven days after defeating Caleleton 1-0 in the final regular season game to secure a first round playoff bye, the Eastern division rivals returned to Varsity Stadium to do it all over again. With a post-season spark in the air, the game was an equalling thrilling and evenly matched affair. An extra bite in every tackle lead the referee to show 10 yellow cards in total.

“This time of year, these are the types of games we play, said Capotosto, eager to focus on one thing after the match. “The willingness to battle and the determination that the group showed today. The boys turned up to fight,” he said.

Saveliev, who was named an OUA East first team all-star in 2015, called the game a special occasion.

“Now we know we can win after putting on this kind of performance, that gives us confidence,” said the graduating game-winner. “Our mentality was very good. That’s what won us the game. We were consistent, didn’t get ahead of ourselves and kept at it for the whole game.”

Colelli, right, spurned a glorious chance early in the second half to double his tally and settle Toronto nerves before Carleton equalized.
Colelli, right, spurned a glorious chance early in the second half to double his tally and settle Toronto nerves before Carleton equalized. (CIARAN BREEN/TORONTO OBSERVER)

The Blues kick off on Saturday at 12:00 p.m at Birchmount Stadium in the Eastend. Ryerson, without a permanent home field to call their own, play host to the OUA Final Four as the highest seed in the East. Heading into the matchup with top-seeded York, Toronto will take inspiration from three significant one-goal victories over their biggest rivals in the last three weeks, twice against Carleton and a 2-1 result at Ryerson on October 12.

“It’s a sign of a good team to be able to do that at this time of the year,” said Capotosto. “You have to be able to grind out results and testament to the players today, they did a great job.”