By: Kajan Thiruthanikasalam
SCARBOROUGH, ONT.- So here we are again, only this time in the confines of Progress Turf Field.
This evening will mark a rematch of last year's crossover game between the Sheridan Bruins and the Centennial Colts. It's the same situation in that if you win, you're moving onto provincials. Lose, however, and the season's over just like that.
"It's been a long time since we've gotten to provincials," Julian Carr, Colts Head Coach, pointed out.
The Colts look to exact revenge against the Bruins this year after suffering a 6-2 defeat in last year's crossover game at Sheridan, in which they allowed four unanswered goals in the first 25 minutes of the game.
"They (Sheridan) were on a cold streak and we overestimated them completely. We also made some silly mistakes and had six or seven opportunities to score but couldn't," Carr said about last year's one-in playoff game. "Guys got nervous; they weren't the same as they had been all season long. I don't think we fully prepared the way we should've immediately before the game; that's on me and I'll take full responsibility for that."
Sheridan ended the season undefeated with a 5-0-5 record with 20 points, finishing second in the OCAA West behind the Humber Hawks. Midfielder Francis Ameyaw led the Bruins with seven goals while goalkeeper Chester Ashby has three clean sheets.
"They are experienced and mean, in a good way. They come out, do their business, and leave it all out on the field," Carr said. "It's a little bit of a throwback (approach). They take no prisoners and they're well-coached."
Meanwhile, Centennial ended the season with a 6-2-2 record and finished with 20 points as well, albeit resulting in a third place finish in the OCAA East behind the Algonquin Thunder and Durham Lords.
Striker Liam Cox led the way with eight goals for the Colts while rookie goalie Chim Oneyeka has four shutouts this season.
"This team believes in the process. They've got that cherished pride that other schools have. That's the whole point of this; it's the camaraderie that you've built," Carr said. "And that seeps into your team. We've been together for three months; this has become a very tight-knit group, from top to bottom."
Sheridan has won all four playoff games in the outdoor season all-time against Centennial but Carr says that, despite history favouring the visitors, this year's Colts are more than ready for the task ahead.
"History is on their (Sheridan's) side. The question is what will we do," Carr said. "And this group, mentally, is ready to rise to the occasion."
Centennial has already made history once this season, winning against the Thunder on the road for the first time in 15 years. But can they pull off another historic accomplishment and beat Sheridan for the first time ever?
We're about to find out.