MRU Cougars claim 1st title, beat UBC to win Canada West

TORONTO, ON – There might not be a better soccer city in Canada than Calgary over the last few weeks, as Cavalry FC and the MRU Cougars claimed their first titles in the Canadian Premier League and U SPORTS. 

While Cavalry topped the CPL regular season standings, the MRU Cougars slayed their playoff demons on Saturday in the Canada West men’s soccer final, defeating the UBC Thunderbirds 1-0 to claim their first trophy as a program. 

Ethan Keen found the back of the net in the 26th minute, driving forward with the ball before leaving it for Josh Flaksman, who sent a cross into the box, which UBC’s Bennet McKay bubbled into Keen’s path, for him to open the scoring. 

While early, the goal proved a critical point, as the Cougars went on to claim their first title after being the best team in the Prairie Division over the last four seasons, topping the regular season again in 2023. 

Rookie goalkeeper Aidan Dumoulin stopped six shots for his 11th shutout in all competitions this season, as the Cougars kept UBC, who scored 40 goals as the best regular season offensive team, off the scoresheet.

Keen, the goalscorer, was a 2021 CPL-U SPORTS Draft Pick of Cavalry FC. Meanwhile, UBC has experienced CPL players in former Pacific FC defenders Chris Lee and Eric Lajuenesse.

(MRU Cougars)

UBC’s loss ended a five-season run of winning the Canada West conference and will send them to the U SPORTS Championship as the Canada West No. 2 seed, while MRU takes the No. 1 seed and a top-four berth.

For MRU head coach Ryan Gyaki, who took over the program in 2014, it proved a vital mark, with his process of reaching out to international student-athletes proving to be a winning strategy, taking down a UBC program he had long admired. 

The Cougars and Thunderbirds both travel to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, for the U SPORTS National Championship alongside the host CBU Capers, AUS champion StFX X-Men, OUA qualifiers York and Carleton, and RSEQ qualifiers UQTR and Montreal. 

The national tournament kicks off on Thursday on CBC Sports, with full coverage from 49 Sports. 

The defending U SPORTS Champion TRU Wolfpack did not make it past the first round of the Canada West playoffs. 


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