Goal crazy Gigolaj nudges SMU to second
The Saint Mary’s Huskies’ strong play the past two weekends at the AUS championships and then at the CIS championships was enough to earn them a gold medal match at nationals Nov. 13 with the host University of Victoria Vikes.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, they came up short, losing 3 – 1 to a very skilled and organized Victoria team, but Saint Mary’s still earned a silver medal. It’s a surprising jump for a team that was ranked sixth in the AUS.
In a very skilled but physical affair where the referee handed out seven yellow cards, both teams showed early that they wanted the gold medal.
Victoria’s Wes Barrett made the crowd of 3,025 go nuts when he scored on a stunning long-range effort at the death of the first half.
Rookie Cam Hundal struck twice for the Vikes, scoring a well-taken chip just after the restart at half and then tapping home his team’s third from Craig Gorman’s cross late in the affair. Gorman set up Hundal after some great individual play on the sidelines.
The Huskies got one back midway through the second half to make it 2 – 1 when Elvir Gigolaj headed the ball home from inside the box after some heavy SMU pressure.
Gigolaj was a scoring machine for the Huskies when it mattered most. He had four goals in three games in Victoria, adding to the five goals in three games he earned at the AUS championships, including a stunning four in the final against UPEI.
Saint Mary’s have now won four silvers and two bronze medals at nationals, but they are still in search of the illustrious gold.
This was the Huskies’ first appearance in the CIS final since 2003. Saint Mary’s won the bronze medal last year, defeating Toronto 2 – 0.
On their road to the finals, SMU defeated McGill 2 – 1 in the quarterfinals and Alberta 2 – 0 in the semis.
AUS semifinalists Cape Breton was also in Victoria for the weekend, managing to take the bronze medal and barely missing out on an all-AUS final. The Capers defeated Alberta 1 – 0 in the third place matchup.
CIS second team all-Canadian Ian Greedy scored his third goal of the tournament in the bronze medal match, which held as the game winner.
The Capers defeated McMaster 2 – 1 in the quarterfinals, but fell to hosts Victoria 3 – 2 in the semifinals.
In the consolation final, George Banks of the McGill Redmen scored two goals to lead his team to a 3 – 1 victory over McMaster.
Dalhousie was recognized at the nationals themselves as Tigers goalkeeper Ben Ur was named a CIS first team all-Canadian as the top goalie in the nation.