After Extra Time: UQTR Patrioites 1-0 Carleton Ravens
Ecstasy, or may I say “extase”, was the only word that could possibly begin to describe the feeling that Universite de Quebec au Trois-Riveris felt when the final whistle blew after 120 gruelling minutes of football.
The whistle Put an end to the most important game in team history to date sealed the Patriotes 1-0 win over Carleton, sending them to the U Sports men’s soccer championship final for the first time in school history.
Coming into the tournament, UQTR was simply happy to be competing in their home province. That attitude changed when they stunned the UBC Thunderbirds 1-0 in the quarter-final, despite playing against a strong west coast team, as well as every weather element Montreal could offer.
After that victory, the mindset was changed. No longer were the Patriotes just happy to be competing, they were here to win. After defeating the well-regarded T-Birds, they believed they could.
Fast forward 24 hours to Friday evening. Under the lights and in the frigid temperatures, they shocked the Canadian soccer community once again, defeating the OUA champion Carleton Ravens in extra time.
Every person I spoke to around the stadium expected the Ravens to win. The Ravens boasted ta lineup with he U Sports player of the year Dario Conte, and former first overall Canadian Premier League draft pick Gabriel Bitar. Despite all the firepower and name recognition, the Ravens were unable to break down a determined Patriotes defence.
Even better? The win spoiled the evening and weekend for the large group of vocal Carleton supporters and alumni who made the trip to CEPSUM stadium to witness their Ravens trot their way to a championship banner
It took 91 minutes for the deadlock to be broken, and another 29 for the UQTR fans and players to bite their nails off before securing victory.
It was Gabriel Wiethaeuper-Balbinotti who scored the historic goal, and 49 caught him mere seconds after the final whistle blew.
“I’m so happy, so emotional, I can’t think right now!” said the freshman goalscorer when asked about the game. After given a moment to collect his thoughts, he went on to explain how it is so important to him, even as a first-year student, to be part of the first group of guys from UQTR to have made it this far. He realizes they’re not supposed to be here, but doesn’t care and thinks his team can pull off another upset Sunday, maybe even against the hosts; the Montreal Carabins.
While Wiethaeuper-Balbinotti was the happiest man alive, the same could not be said for members of the Carleton Ravens, who were seen in tears following the game. For some, this is the last meaningful game they will play for the ravens, but they will have to regroup and give the bronze medal game their best shot on Sunday. Fortunately for them, they have a day to reflect and collect their thoughts before facing the loser of the other semi-final.
Whatever happens in the final, this UQTR team will go home happy, knowing they made history in the game in Canada.