Trois-Rivières, QC- They were on track for a dream season until falling in the provincial final, but where some teams would fold under the disappointment, Les Patriotes seemed to take their RSEQ loss as fuel. They packed it with them as they headed towards their victor’s home on their hunt for their first ever national title.
Men’s Soccer- Champions at Last
For the first time in the history of the men’s soccer program of Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières are national champions. The title was claimed with a 2-0 win over UdeM at the U SPORTS championship, just nine days after losing the RSEQ conference final to the same team by the same score. Les Patriotes finished the regular season 10-2, while posting an impressive +18 goal differential and even went off on a seven game win streak, good for first in the Québec conference.
Before they got their chance at vengeance against Les Carabins, Les Patriotes had to fight their way through the first two rounds of the USports championship tournament. After sending UBC to the consolation side of the bracket with a 1-0 win, UQTR were faced with the challenge of getting past the 13-1 Carleton Ravens.
The national semi-final pitted two incredibly solid defences against each other. It was such a defensive showdown that we had to wait until the overtime period to see the first (and only) goal. By the end of the 90 minutes, the Ravens had double the shots over Les Patriotes (6-3), after having full control in the first half. Nevertheless, UQTR had their defensive strength on full display, refusing to give in to the continued pressure from the Ontario side.
The 88-minute mark could be classified as the turning point of the semi-final, when a Raven was sent off for his second yellow card. It would be hard to understate the advantage UQTR had by having an extra man for the extra frame, after such a hard-fought defensive battle. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for Les Patriotes to capitalize, netting the only goal in the 93rd minute. With that, the Québecois side had earned their first berth to the national title game.
Finally, UQTR had earned their shot at redemption versus UdeM in the final game of the tournament. This time the showdown happened on Montréal’s home field, as they were hosting this edition of the tournament. It didn’t take long for Les Patriotes to draw first blood, with Guillaume Comtois-Noël netting what would be the game-winning goal in the 28th minute. UQTR took confidence in how fast they came out of the gate and headed into halftime with the leg up.
If it hadn’t already been clear that UQTR was destined to win this rematch and the title, the second-half performance by their goalkeeper, Félix Clapin Girard etched their fate in stone. Without him, the second-half could have been a comeback story for Les Carabins, as they fired 19 shots on target within the second 45 minutes. 15 saves later, Montréal had been blanked for the first time and Girard had his third shutout in four days. Patriotes head coach, Shany Black, credited his keeper after stating that he wished his team could have kept more control in the back half of the game.
Possibly fueled by Girard’s heroics, or taking advantage of a burnt out Carabins squad, Les Patriotes netted a second goal right before the final whistle to seal the deal and hand UdeM their second finals loss in three years. Félix Clapin Girard was named MVP of the tournament and Patriotes players made up 50% of the all-star team with 6 of their men being named to it. All of this simply added to the history that was the 2019-2020 Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières men’s soccer team, who are finally national champs.