(SYDNEY, N.S.) The StFX X-Men punched their ticket to the Subway AUS Men's Soccer Championship final game with a 3-1 semi-final victory over the UPEI Panthers Friday night at Matt Anthony field. They move on to face the host Cape Breton Capers Sunday at 4 p.m. for the conference title.
With the win the X-Men also punched their ticket to the U SPORTS national championship as the AUS conference receives two berths, so both the Capers and X-Men will be competing next weekend in Montreal.
In the semi-final game the X-Men started out strong as they had shots on goal in the opening five minutes of the game, forcing UPEI keeper Brett Strba (Fall River, N.S.) to make a nice early save.
In the 10th minute, Tane Caubo (London, United Kingdom) made a great pass to midfielder Dan Hayfield (Exeter, United Kingdom) as he placed a well-struck ball past the Strba to give StFX a 1-0 lead early in the first half.
The X-Men had another great chance 18 minutes in off a corner kick as the ball ping ponged around in front of the Panthers net and Strba made consecutive saves to keep it out of the net.
StFX continued to play steller defence that led to a several scoring opportunities throughout the half, but Strba continued to come up big in the UPEI net. He stopped a point-blank shot from Logan Harrington (Halifax, N.S.) right at the end of the half and the 1-0 lead held up after 45 minutes.
In the second half the Panthers came out looking for the equalizer and Seamus MacDonald (Antigonish, N.S.) made his first big save of the night, diving after a ball three minutes in.
In the 50th minute of play, X-Men striker Caubo scored a nice goal off a quick rush with a strong strike from a feed by Ben Herringer (Calgary, Alta.).
As the half continued the intensity picked up with both sides getting pushed around and a few yellow cards being thrown up, but the X-Men didn't bow down and kept pushing.
The Panthers were more aggressive to the ball in the second half and their best scoring chance came in the 54th minute as Sam Smiley (Stratford, P.E.I.) sent a nice cross over to Moe Jaber (Halifax, N.S.) who headed it just high of the X net.
Herringer had a nice chance for the X-Men in the 78th with a spin and shot nut his ball sailed high. Caubo continued his strong play and created chances. He hit the cross bar late in the game but was rewarded in the 84th minute when he crossed the ball to the front of the Panthers net and it went in off a UPEI defender as an own goal.
Late into the match, UPEI got a burst of energy and center back Cohen Reddick-Stevens (Cole Harour, N.S.) scored a goal in the 88th minute to make it 3-1 and deny StFX of their shutout.
Final shots in the game favoured the X-Men at 17-5.
Tane Caubo received Subway player of the game honour for StFX, while Panther midfielder Lucas Ross (Vernon, B.C.) was the player of the game for his squad.
The AUS championship game on Sunday will feature the top two ranked teams in the AUS with the No. 2 X-Men taking on the No. 1 Capers. Game time is 4 p.m.
Courtesy StFX Athletics, with contributions from Daniel Briand, CBU Communications