(SYDNEY, NS) The second-seed STFX X-Men defeated the third-seed UNB REDS 2-0 in the semi-finals at the 2022 Subway Atlantic University Sport Men's Soccer Championship, Thursday afternoon, at Cape Breton University.
The X-Men came out quickly, garnering a scoring chance in the opening minute, with Kyle Cordeiro (Oakville, ON) testing veteran UNB goalkeeper Louis-Charles Vaillancourt (Sherbrooke, QC), who made the stop to keep it scoreless.
Conference MVP Keji Adeniyi (London, UK) collected the first scoring threat for the REDS, but X-Men keeper Sam Diltz (New Market, ON) steered aside the shot, which banged off the far post. Before the ball crossed the goal line, a nimble Diltz pounced on it.
As an indication of how the X-Men carried the bulk of the play, particularly in the first half of the opening 45 minutes, they collected three free-kick and two corner-kick chances in a less than a four-minute span.
On the final corner kick of that flurry, in the 15th minute, Logan Rieck (Cambridge, ON), the AUS leading scoring in the regular season, found freshman striker Samuel Barrowcliffe (Princeton, ON), just inside the 18-yard box, who made no mistake with a blast that eluded Vaillancourt to make it 1-0.
In the 22nd minute, Adeniyi tried to tie the contest on a soaring header, but Diltz made a great stop to maintain the X-Men's one-goal edge. He did the same later in the half.
The X-Men led 1-0 at halftime.
Early in the second half, X continued its stellar defensive effort, thwarting any UNB scoring chances, which were few and far between.
"Our defense was the reason we won today," Cordeiro said.
In the 60th minute, Rieck found Barrowcliffe, but Vaillancourt got his left hand on a bouncing shot that looked to be headed just inside the goal post.
A few minutes later, Adeniyi broke free from a couple of defenders, but he could not catch up to the ball before Diltz smothered it.
With the X-Men pressing for an insurance marker, Cordeiro, with a great individual effort in the 18-yard box, doubled the lead to 2-0. After eluding a couple of UNB defenders, and in close quarters, the midfielder rifled a shot that beat Vaillancourt.
Down the stretch, when they did threaten, the REDS were more often than not led by Adeniyi, whose header in the 80th minute was directed for the back of the net, but Diltz lunged to his left and used every inch of his 6'5" frame to get a hand on the shot and send the ball wide.
Cordeiro and UNB's Lars Gierull (Ottawa, ON) were named Subway Player of the Game for their respective teams.
Diltz made eight saves for the win, while Vaillancourt collected three stops in the loss.
STFX moves on to the AUS championship match, where they will face tournament hosts Cape Breton, who beat Université de Moncton 2-1 in the other semi-final. The conferenece championship game goes Saturday, at 2:00pm ADT.
RECAP: Corey LeBlanc/for CBU Athletics
PHOTOS: Vaughan Merchant/for CBU Athletics