BERNARDA GOSPIC/THE VARSITY

Varsity Blues fourth year goalkeeper John Smits has left Toronto to play Edmonton FC of the North American Soccer League for the 2012 season.

The Calgary-based team was founded in 2010. The team played its first competitive game in April 2011 and ended the 2011 season with a record of 10–12–6.

Smits earned a reputation as one of the most dominant goalkeepers in the CIS over the course of three seasons in the net for the University of Toronto,.

The Blues took the OUA championship title last season.  Smits won the player of the match award for the gold medal game, which saw Toronto defeat York 1–0 in a penalty shootout.

One of Smits most impressive performances last season came in the Blues’ thrilling OUA quarterfinal game against the Ryerson Rams. Smits carried the team in the come-from-behind Toronto victory, with impressive saves from two penalties; the shootout ended 4–2 to Toronto.

Smits was responsible for Toronto’s OUA East-low nine goals against and nine shutout victories in regular season play.

Edmonton’s new ‘keeper helped lead the team to its third consecutive CIS national tournament. In the quarterfinal against the Alberta Golden Bears, which the Blues lost 2–1, Smits continued to prove his talent and resiliency. The Golden Bears’  first goal came 21 minutes into the match on a shot that soared high into the corner past the helpless Blues senior goalkeeper. However, Smits remained focused and stopped a spectacular opportunity for the Bears  to keep the one goal differential heading into the half. Although Alberta would later secure the match on a penalty kick from a handball foul, Smits’ resilience kept the match close.

The loss led to a consolation semifinal against the McGill Redmen, the final match of the Blues 2011 campaign. The sole goal came in the 41st minute from a header that flew past Smits’ replacement in goal, Russell.

“We are very excited for John to have this opportunity to play professional sports,” said Varsity Blues head coach Anthony Capotosto. “We wish John all the best and look forward to following what we hope will be a long and successful career in the game!”

-With files from varsityblues.ca

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