An all-BC Men’s Soccer Final is on tap after a pair of semifinal wins for TRU and UBC
After four quarterfinals on Thursday, Friday brought with it the final four of U SPORTS Men’s Soccer as the UBC Thunderbirds, Montréal Carabins, Thompson Rivers Wolfpack and Cape Breton Capers all battled for a guaranteed medal and a shot at the 2022 National title.
Let’s break down the games.
#3 UBC Thunderbirds 2 – 0 #2 Montréal Carabins
Would you look at that, for the first time since 2016, the Montréal Carabins will not play for a national title as they fell in the semifinals 2-0 to the UBC Thunderbirds.
It’s hard to say which side entered the afternoon as the “favourite.” If anything, the Carabins showed dominance in their 2-0 takedown of the StFX X-Men on Thursday, while the Thunderbirds scored through a lot of their problems in their 4-2 win over the TMU Bold.
Either way, Friday presented the opportunity for two of the top teams in the country, the Canada West champion Thunderbirds and the RSEQ champion Carabins, to battle for a place in the National final.
It was the Thunderbirds who got things underway in the 11th minute. After being awarded a free kick, Thomas Gardner looped a bending shot right over the wall and under the bar past Montréal keeper Jordan Tisseur to make it 1-0 for the Thunderbirds.
UBC doubled the score in the 29th minute when Markus Kaiser found Logan Chung at the top of the Carabins’ box. Chung spun off his defenders before slotting it in past Jordan Tisseur to give the Thunderbirds a 2-0 lead.
After a dominant performance saw Montréal outshoot StFX 19-2 on Thursday, the Carabins were held in check by the Thunderbirds, splitting the first-half shots 5-5 and outshooting UBC 8-4 in the second half.
Montréal forced a few saves out of UBC keeper Peter Whyte, with a 77th-minute shot from Julien Bruce that forced a diving save from Whyte the best chance.
When the whistle sounded though it was 2-0 for the Thunderbirds, the Carabins’ streak of four consecutive national finals was over, and UBC was headed back to the championship final for the first time since winning back-to-back golds in 2012 and 2013.
UBC moves on to play the TRU Wolfpack at 2:00 pm PST on Sunday, while Montréal still has a medal to play for as they go for bronze against Cape Breton.
#1 CBU Capers 2 – 2 #5 TRU Wolfpack (3-4)
The TRU Wolfpack quickly became the Cinderella team of the 2022 U SPORTS Men’s Soccer championship. The hosts, falling in the Canada West quarterfinal, entered the tournament with the least expectations. Yet, after dispatching the OUA champion McMaster Marauders in the quarterfinal and now taking down the CBU Capers in the semifinals, the Wolfpack are a win away from being the first hosts to win a title since York in 2015.
A night after their emotional victory over McMaster, the Wolfpack entered a full-on chess match with the defending AUS champion CBU Capers.
It took until the 51st minute for Marco Favaro to find himself with the fall on his foot amidst a scramble after a TRU corner kick, and he buried it past Daniel Clarke to make it 1-0 for TRU.
That’s the way it held for the next 36 minutes. That is until a handball in the TRU box sent Cian Lynch to the penalty spot, where he buried it to tie the game at 1-1 to send it to extra time for the second consecutive night for TRU.
The Wolfpack looked to have the answer early in extra time as, again, off of a TRU corner, the ball landed at Elijah Dos Santos’ feet, who muscled it past Clarke to make it 2-1 for TRU.
Fifteen minutes later, a free kick into the TRU box bounced to Muad Mohammed, who buried past Jackson Gardner to tie the game up at 2-2 and send it to penalty kicks.
In penalties, Jackson Gardner stopped Cian Lynch, and Daniel Clarke stopped Daniel Sagno, meaning when Muad Mohammed couldn’t bury it in the fifth round for CBU, Patrick Izett once again had the opportunity to make history for TRU.
Speaking post-game, the hero for TRU for the second night in a row summed it up pretty adeptly.
‘We had a job to do today, and we did it,” Izett said.
The TRU Wolfpack now go to an all-BC national final as they take on the UBC Thunderbirds on Sunday afternoon at Hillside Stadium.
A pair of consolation games saw a couple of wildly different results.
UQTR 5 – 0 McMaster
In their penalty kicks loss to TRU the night before, McMaster looked disengaged; in their consolation semifinal loss to UQTR, they looked ready to leave.
Guillaume Pianelli got things started 30 minutes before Gabriel Balbinotti scored back-to-back goals, first at the end of the first half and then six minutes into the second half, to make it 3-0 UQTR.
Samuel Laplante added his first of the tournament nine minutes later to make it 4-0 before Adam Primeau-Verreau finished it with a 73rd-minute goal to make it 5-0 for UQTR.
A night after they were outshot xx – xx against TRU, the Marauder again got blown out 23-7 in the shot column by the Patriotes.
UQTR heads to the fifth-place game on Saturday afternoon against the TMU Bold.
TMU 0 – 0 StFX (7-6)
How TMU got to the fifth-place game demonstrated the wild difference between the two consolation semifinals. After a 4-2 loss to the UBC Thunderbirds in the quarterfinals, the Bold defence turned on another level, but at the same time, after their 2-0 loss to the Carabins, StFX did the same.
The sides were in lockstep, six shots a piece in the first half, four each in the second, but nothing in the back of the net meant penalty kicks which is where things got wild.
Ameer Kanani missed in round three for TMU, which gave Max Bodurtha a chance to win it for stFX, but he missed, sending it to sudden death.
In sudden death, each side hit on a pair of kicks before Tristan Marshall scored for TMU and Owen Pensom couldn’t answer for StFX, sending the X-Men home and the Bold into the fifth-place game.
The fifth-place game goes live Saturday, Nov. 12, at 1:30 pm PST.