Metro Lions hope to roar into 2003 soccer season

SAM LASKARIS from Scarborough Mirror
May. 30, 2003

The Metro Lions are hoping their second season will be as successful, if not better, than their inaugural campaign.

The Scarborough-based Lions turned quite a few heads in 2002. The first-year team posted an impressive 11-6-2 mark, good for a third-place finish in the Canadian Professional Soccer League's then seven-club Eastern Conference.

The Lions, who play their home matches at Birchmount Stadium, then ended up advancing to the CPSL semi-final round in the playoffs.

"We've got some big shoes to fill right now," said Lions' owner/coach Aldwyn McGill, who is expected to have at least 10 returnees in his lineup this season.

The local side will begin its regular season June 6 on the road versus the Vaughan Sun Devils.

The Lions will also play on the road June 16 against the North York Astros. The squad's home opener is scheduled for June 21 against Toronto Supra, an Etobicoke-based franchise.

The Lions are expected to play a handful of exhibition contests prior to their season opener. But just one of those games will be against a league rival.

The Lions battled to a 3-3 draw against the host Hamilton Thunder Monday.

McGill said his team has tried to set up other pre-season tilts against CPSL rivals, but he hasn't found any other takers. "Some teams just don't want to play us," McGill said, adding he's disappointed since those matches will not affect the league standings. "At the professional level, it should be mandatory that teams play each other (during the pre-season)."

McGill said his roster is even more skilled than it was last season.

"We have the talent," he said. "It's just a matter of whether we have got the desire and if everything else falls together for us."

Because of the Lions' first-year success, McGill said CPSL rivals will be pumped for each game they play against the Scarborough side. "For most of the games, I would think that we would be the favourites," McGill added. "So we're kind of anxious to see what will happen."

Besides the Lions, Sun Devils and Supra, the league's six-team Eastern Conference will also include the Ottawa Wizards, Laval Dynamites and the Oshawa-based Durham Flames.

The Western Conference will feature seven clubs, including Hamilton. The other entrants are the North York Astros, London City, St. Catharines Wolves, Brampton Hitmen, Mississauga Olympians and Toronto Croatia, also a Mississauga-based organization.

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