“It was tough”: Laval down Cape Breton to set up a Québec rivalry final

QUÉBEC CITY, QC – There’s a certain perseverance a team needs to reach the U SPORTS gold medal match, especially when they have to go through 120 minutes and penalties the night before. 

As winds blew field-level tents away and a freezing rain soaked an already slick pitch, the Laval Rouge et Or pushed through the elements, defeating the Cape Breton Capers 2-0 to clinch a spot in the U SPORTS Final against their RSEQ rival Montreal Carabins.

They did it all less than 24 hours after beating the UBC Thunderbirds in penalties to get through the quarter-final. 

(Yan Doublet/U UPORTS)

“We knew that we had a couple of girls that weren’t top shape like Lea-Jeanne Fortier, one of our strikers didn’t ever play because she had a little injury, but we knew that CBU might cost us fewer problems,” Laval assistant coach Rachel Collard told 49 Sports. “The game plan was to play simple and keep the ball and be patient to wait for the good moments, and it worked.”

While the Rouge et Or walked away with a clean-sheet win, in the end, the Capers controlled the match through the first 10 minutes, as Aaliyah Rowe snuck behind defenders and twice tested Myraime Labrecque in Laval’s goal.

Yet despite their positive play, the match turned in the 27th minute, as Daphnée Blouin took the ball 40 yards out from goal and dribbled through five Capers defenders before shifting left and slotting the shot past Haley Kardas. 

“It doesn’t make us panic,” Collard said of the slow start. “I think the girls are good under pressure, they’re able to perform, and they’re very convinced with what they’re able to do so they can calm everything down.”

From that strike, the energized crowd pushed Laval on through the remainder of the half, as the home side dominated possession and controlled the pace of play, calming the game down before attacking with speed and skill. 

Mathilde Rousseau linked up with Blouin and Catherine Fortier, dictating the passing channels and ensuring Cape Breton couldn’t build any momentum in possession. 

As Laval continued to press and attack through the second half, substitute Megane Darchen added another threat to the front three. After CBU’s Kardas handled two Laval shots on target, centre-back Alexandra Doucet picked out Darchen on the right wing, as the substitute drove in a cross for a Rousseau tap-in. 

With a 2-0 advantage in the 67th minute and a crowd reaching fever pitch, there wasn’t any looking back for the Rouge et Or. 

While Cape Breton attacked in patient efficiency in the final minutes, the hosts held tight, picking out any passes before chances became threatening. After a semifinal that relied heavily on Labreque, her teammates did the defensive work on Friday to see out the clean sheet. 

“It was tough today, but we played like we always do even though the legs were getting difficult with all the big minutes,” Virginie Deschenes told 49 Sports. “Now we have a rest day and will celebrate this, but we must focus on the big rivalry to beat the Carabins.”

Rivlarie de Québec en Final

The Rouge et Or victory sends them to the U SPORTS Final against their rival Montreal Carabins, who defeated them in the RSEQ Final just over a week ago. Yet although the Carabins defeated Laval in the RSEQ Final, the previous three meetings fell in favour of the Rouge et Or. 

“It’s crazy, last time we won U SPORTS here was in 2014, and that was beating the TWU Spartans, and everything was awesome,” Collard, then a student-athlete on the team, said. “Now, playing the final against Carabins, I can’t believe it; it’s going to be so emotional and crazy; it’s going to be the best thing.”

Laval’s last U SPORTS title came in 2016 when they beat the UBC Thunderbirds 2-1 in the final at Acadia University in Wolfville, NS.

(Yan Doublet/U UPORTS)

While the final match between two rivals would be an exceptional atmosphere regardless, the U SPORTS gold medal game comes less than 24 hours after the RSEQ Football Final, the Dunsmore Cup, contested between the same two schools. 

With the home crowd bound to be behind them, a sizeable away contingent, and a heated rivalry that crosses over sports, the 2022 U SPORTS Women’s Soccer Final will be extraordinary, as the battle of Québec’s finest university sports programs takes over the weekend in the provincial capital. 

For Collard, though, there are no doubts about how the final will go: “We know them by heart; they know us, so it’s going to be a question of who is best on the field that day.”


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