QUÉBEC CITY, QC – There’s just something about Montreal and Québec City.
From the former rivalry between the NHL’s Québec Nordiques and Montreal Canadiens that featured the infamous Friday Massacre to the constant battles between the Laval Rouge et Or and Montreal Carabins in every sport contested. It’s always a unique battle when the two cities meet in competition.
Rouge et Or fans packed TELUS-UL Stadium on Saturday as Laval downed Montreal on the last kick to win the Dunsmore Cup RSEQ football championship. Yet, on Sunday between the same schools, it’s a women’s soccer national title on the line.
For two schools with a rich history of sporting rivalries, and two cities with contempt not shared anywhere else in Canada, it’s bound to be a memorable afternoon with U SPORTS women’s soccer gold medals up for grabs.
The Carabins and Rouge et Or met just ten days ago in the RSEQ Final in Montreal, where the Carabins captured the gold medal with an 85th-minute goal from Maxyme Nobert to win 2-1. However, while the conference title fell the Carabins’ way, the Rouge et Or won the two regular-season matchups.
The sides know each other’s tendencies well, and there’s little doubt they share an epic rivalry.
“It’s crazy, last time we won U SPORTS here was in 2014, and that was beating the TWU Spartans, and everything was awesome,” Laval assistant coach Rachel Collard, then a student-athlete on the team, told 49 Sports. “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.”
While the last two U SPORTS finals have featured only Canada West programs, this year brings the All-Québec rivalry to the hallowed grounds of Laval’s stadium as the Rouge et Or look for their first U SPORTS title since 2016.
Montreal won in 2017 with a gold medal match win over the CBU Capers, who they beat in the semifinal.
It’s not been easy for either program to make the final. Montreal took 120 minutes, and three penalty shootout saves from Catherine Langelier to squeak past the uOttawa Gee-Gees in the semifinal. At the same time, the Rouge et Or played a gruelling quarter-final match, also decided in penalties to get by the #1 ranked UBC Thunderbirds.
With those gruelling games, some players who would usually influence the final may be unavailable. Notably, Lea-Jeanne Fortier, who scored in the RSEQ Final and was critical in Lavals’ win over UBC, did not play in the semifinal due to a minor injury. Yet, she could return for the final.
For Montreal, the day off after a taxing semifinal will have done wonders, likely saving their group from severe discomfort.
Although the question won’t lie with the players not on the pitch on Sunday but with the key student-athletes looking to bring glory to their school.
All eyes focus on Megane Sauvé for the Carabins, the dynamic midfielder who scored a wonder strike in the semifinal and constantly controlled the game, while Megane Darchén and Daphnee Blouin will be crucial to Laval’s ability to secure a home victory.
The two goalkeepers, Laval’s Myriam Labrecque and Montreal’s Langelier, will be indispensable presences, particularly if the match reaches a penalty shootout.
“The result wasn’t in our favour, but we played our best game, so we had a good mindset coming into this tournament,” Labrecque told 49 Sports about rebounding from the RSEQ Final loss. “Even if we concede early or the score isn’t in our favour, we know we can play well and find our way back into games.”
Whatever the sport, whatever the level, when the Laval Rouge et Or clash with the Montreal Carabins, it’s bound to be remarkable, and there shouldn’t be any less expectation for Sunday’s season finale, with Laval looking to become the first home team to win the tournament since Ottawa in 2018.
Yet, the visitors and reigning RSEQ Champions aren’t looking to copy their men’s football team’S Saturday night in losing at TELUS-UL StadiuM.
“We are super confident because, during the season, we faced some adversity and some challenges, and we adjusted,” Montreal’s Sauvé said. “From now on, our performances are only improving, and we’ll stick with that to win on Sunday.”