No team enjoys playing for a bronze medal.
It’s hard enough to process the dismay of losing in a semi-final, but to go out the next day and perform at your best to become the second-best loser takes a special person.
After the loss in the semi-final, many athletes will subconsciously give up, but those are not the kind who make it to the top levels of their respective sports.
For the Carleton Ravens and Cape Breton Capers, Sunday’s match for the U Sports national bronze medal was peculiar. Both teams finished the regular season in the top five in Canada, with the Capers finishing in first for their second consecutive year.
Both teams wanted to play on Sunday, but the 11:00 kick-off was not in their plans. All that being said, they took their opportunity and both teams put on an exciting performance which crowned the Raven’s national bronze medalists at the end of the day.
In front of the scouting Canadian Premier League (CPL) coaches, Carleton opened the scoring in a very untraditional way. U Sports player of the year, Dario Conte, fired a free-kick into the Capers defending wall. The ball ricocheted off a defenders hand and the referee awarded a penalty. CPL draft hopeful Stefan Karajovanic made no mistake by firing the ball into the netting.
The game was gritty and tough in the frigid Montreal morning; with all three of the goals coming off set pieces.
Carleton was able to find an equalizer from a header, only to have that made consolation by a late Capers penalty kick.
“We had a day to regroup and think about it, so we were prepared,” said, third-year midfielder Michael Gould, continuing on to talk about how it is nice for the seniors to leave the school with some hardware in their hands.
The Capers have the most foreign players of any school on U Sports and have consistently been an elite school when it comes to soccer. With the way they approach recruitment and their program, doubled with the success they enjoy on the pitch, could we see other schools adopt similar style? It is a question that we will have to wait for the answer, but the approach of the Capers is something unique in U Sports.
The Ravens, on the other hand, are all Canadian, and leave Montreal empty-handed, finishing in fourth place. A few of their players should be selected in Monday’s CPL draft; most notably Gabriel Bitar, who was selected last year by Cavalry, but can be selected by a different club this time around.
Although finishing fourth, the 2019 season is not a disappointment for the Ravens, who were able to win their first OUA championship since 2015.
As the season draws to a close for both sides, they now h=can have a little est before preparation for summer leagues, and for some, the CPL kicks into high gear.