CAPE BRETON, NS – The Cape Breton Capers captured the 2023 U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship in a contentious 1-0 win over the Montreal Carabins on their home pitch.
With the victory, the Capers became the 15th host school to win the U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship and the second in as many seasons after the Thompson Rivers Wolfpack captured the title in 2022 in Kamloops, BC.
Jacob Spizziri scored in the 45th minute to break the deadlock for the home side, as the Capers won a third ball after a couple of foul appeals before the Woodbridge, Ontario, second-year smashed his shot past Olivier Rouleau, sparking bedlam among the Capers supporters behind the goal.
The championship title marks Cape Breton’s second and first since winning their inaugural title in 2017 in Kamloops, where they defeated the same Carabins 3-2. Montreal’s reign as a dominant force in U SPORTS soccer also continues with the silver medal, their fifth top-two finish in the last six seasons.
While the Carabins controlled much of the possession through the first 45 minutes, the Capers lifted their levels in the final 10 minutes, throwing bodies forward to get the early advantage, with much of the transition coming through midfielder Max Piepgrass and his connection to Spizziri.
The Carabins nearly tied the match moments after the goal as former Pacific FC CPL-U SPORTS Draft Pick Quentin Paumier sent a shot on target but could not beat Daniel Clarke before the official blew for halftime.
Both sides had penalty and red card appeals through the first half, with the officiating crew allowing play to continue after a handball in the box and a collision between Spizzirri and Sami McDuff ending in no sending-offs, despite Spizziri landing on the surrounding running track.
While the Carabins pushed throughout the second half, the Capers backline stood strong to hold the clean sheet and capture the title on their home pitch. Daniel Clarke made six saves for the clean sheet.
Earlier in the day, the UBC Thunderbirds defeated the MRU Cougars 1-0 to win the U SPORTS bronze medal in a rematch of the Canada West final, where MRU had prevailed.
With the 2023 U SPORTS men’s soccer season in the rearview, both teams look towards the 2024 U SPORTS-CPL Draft, where top players will have a chance to earn a professional domestic opportunity. Meanwhile, coaches turn their attention to their returning players in an effort to make a run toward the 2024 U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship in Oshawa, Ont, hosted by Ontario Tech University.