The Douglas College Royals ended the Canadian Colleges' Athletic Association men's soccer championships the way they started - with a win.
The host Royals finished a disappointing fifth place following a decisive 4-1 win over defending Canadian collegiate champ Northern Alberta Instiutute of Technolgy at Cunnings Field on Saturday.
Although scoreless at halftime, Douglas was the clear winner as Jordan Marini came on as a substitute in the second half to score three straight goals to give the Royals their second win at the championships.
Marini broke the deadlock in the opening five minutes of the second half ,following a takeaway in the NAIT zone.
Ten minutes later, it was Marini again, this time off a glorious header that clearly crossed the line after glancing in off the crossbar.
Alberta's Dexter MacLachlan got one back with a one-timer off an attack down the right side that Douglas keeper Marc Mincieli got a hand on.
But Marini quickly answered back, re-establishing a two-goal Douglas cushion with a clever chip over a sprawling NAIT keeper that started with some good work from Steven Fronzo and Jag Gill.
Douglas captain Dylan Myers finished off the scoring in added time with a thundering strike coming from way outside the box.
Despite the win, leaving without a medal was a bitter pill to swallow, said Marini.
"We've been working toward this the whole season. It was hard to bounce back, and you could see it in the (loss to the Quebec team)," said Marini.
Following a 7-1 win over Alberta champion Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, Douglas was beaten by B.C. runner-up Vancouver Island University 2-1 on Friday, eliminating any possibility of a championship medal.
"It was our first loss to Vancouver Island since 2008, I think. Vancouver Island had some fire and they had a lot of fans with them. You sometimes get some jitters," Marini added. "They didn't let us play our game. But I really don't think they outplayed us. I just think the bounces didn't go our way."
In the ensuing consolation match against CŽgep Garneau Elans, Douglas lost on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw in regulation time.
The Garneau Elans went on to claim the bronze medal with a 2-1 win over Seneca College.
In the championship final, fifth-seeded Humber College went to penalty kicks before edging Vancouver Island 3-2 to claim its third-ever national collegiate title.
For Vancouver Island, it was the Nanaimo team's silver medal was its third at the nationals in the last three seasons.
Douglas last won a national title in 2005.
The Royals placed third in '03, when they first hosted the Canadian championships.
"It's been a good year," said Royals head coach Joe Ormerod.
"We didn't get to the championship game, but we'll come back and see if we get there and can get it right next year."