OTTAWA, ON – In the last quarterfinal of the 2021 U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championships, the hosts Carleton Ravens stormed back from a 2-0 deficit to take a stunning 3-2 victory against the UBC Thunderbirds after penalties.
With the floodlamps on and the night in full swing, the Ravens and T-Birds took to the pitch in Ottawa to wrap up day one action. The match kicked off with the Canada West champions looking to make their mark early. Playing at a high pace and tempo, it wasn’t long before a chance rolled their way.
Nick Fussell found himself alone against Kyle Potter, a brilliant through ball by Chris Lee, allowing the midfielder to chip it over the Carleton keeper in the 14th minute. UBC was on the front foot and kept the pressure on. Merely 11 minutes later, Nicholas Momotani drove into the box, swinging from left to right before sending a looping shot on target. It dived into the back of the net to double the Thunderbird lead.
The first half would come to a close, with the 2-0 scoreline staying intact. UBC played well, deflecting pressure when they could and attacking with a positive mindset.
In the second half, a different story would be written. Carleton came out of the gates hungry, smothering the Thunderbird with pressure. Though the game would be a little back and forth, it soon tilted in favour of the hosts. In the 60th minute, former Cavalry FC man Gabriel Bitar beat Jackson Farmer to a chipped ball before undressing the former Canadian National Team member. His shot found the back of the net, cutting the lead in half.
Seven minutes later, the Ravens would find their equalizer off of a corner. Tareq Hamad was the one to get on the end of an inswinging cross, directing it into the back of the net before anyone on the UBC end had a chance to react. Just like that, the game was tied at 2-2
Carleton would continue to press for their third, with momentum on their side. UBC keeper Bennett McKay was excellent in response, denying chance after chance while the defence hung on. With 90 minutes not enough to solve anything, extra time was required, and even that wasn’t enough. The Ravens had become the much better team, with the lion’s share of chances, but the Thunderbirds managed to hold them off until penalty kicks.
Both teams traded three goals in the penalty shootout before Potter came up clutch with a huge stop. That set the stage for Tareq Hamad to play hero for the hosts, and with ice in his veins, he delivered from the spot.
The kick capped off the furious comeback by Carleton, triumphing with a 3-2 scoreline. They move on to face the CBU Capers in the semifinals, ensuring that they play for a medal at home. For the Thunderbirds, this marks a disappointing end to such a promising season. They’ll be playing in the consolation semifinals, but it is a tough pill to swallow for a team with national championship ambitions. It is yet another blown lead in a season of many, a worrying pattern that has finally cost them dearly.
Men’s soccer action returns from Ottawa at 1:30 PM EST tomorrow. Catch all the action live on CBC Sports.
Cover Photo: Valerie Wutti/U SPORTS