The West Will Be The Best in 2022: UBC and Thompson Rivers To Meet In The USPORTS Men’s National Final
When the year began in 2022 USPORTS Men’s Soccer, we knew that it was going to be chalked full of excitement and intrigue. This year has not disappointed, especially at the USPORTS Men’s National Soccer Championships in Kamloops, BC. When you get to a National Championship, anything can happen and it is very rare that the host lay an egg. That has followed suit this year with the hosts from Thompson Rivers living up to post season promise by getting to the final vs their conference rivals the UBC Thunderbirds. So let’s see how the two semi-final matches turned out to get us to where we are.
UBC Thunderbirds 2 – Montreal Carabins 0
The Montreal Carabins are no longer the Kings of the U SPORTS men’s soccer world, after the UBC Thunderbirds used a pair of first half goals to take a 2-0 victory in U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship Semifinal action Friday night.
For the first time since 2013, the UBC Thunderbirds will play for gold at the U SPORTS Men’s National Soccer Championship. when at Hillside Field in Kamloops the Thunderbirds punched their ticket to Sunday’s championship match.
Thomas Gardner and Logan Chung scored for UBC with Markus Kaiser earning an assist. Peter Whyte made five saves in the UBC net for the shutout.
Gardner opened the scoring in the 10th minute of play with what may go down as the goal of the tournament. Taking a free-kick from 20 yards out, Gardner perfectly spun the ball over the leaping Montreal defenders, off the crossbar and into the net.
A Montreal mistake proved costly in the 29th minute. Kaiser intercepted a pass deep in the Carabins half and played a through ball to a wide-open Chung who made no mistake to send the ball past Jordan Tisseur and into the net.
Montreal came to life late in the second half.
Salim Eliasy nodded a header towards net off a great curling cross, but Whyte sprawled to make the stop.
Just two minutes later the Carabins had a pair of chances in quick succession, but brave defending from UBC defenders saw them block shots from both Paul Mortas and Lohan Lefevre.
From there, a valiant UBC defensive effort was able to keep the Carabins off the scoresheet and give the Thunderbirds the 2-0 victory.
Cape Breton Capers 2 – Thompson Rivers Wolfpack 2 (PK 3-4)
And this is why we play the games…
For the first time in program history the Thompson Rivers WolfPack will play on the biggest stage possible after they upset the Cape Breton Capers in a semifinal shootout at the U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship in Kamloops Friday night.
“It just means everything, everyone has been so behind us at the university – Matt Milovick, Curtis Atkinson – and the entire athletic department,” said WolfPack head coach John Antulov. “Everyone has been unbelievable and the community came out to support in a big way.”
After neither regulation nor extra time could separate the teams, TRU snagged the victory thanks to a pair of penalty stops by Jackson Gardner and a second-straight shootout winning goal from Patrick Izett.
Marco Favaro and Elijah Dos Santos scored for TRU from free play with Cian Lynch and Muad Mohamoud answering for Cape Breton.
In what was a cagey affair all night long, neither team was able to grab the lead in the opening half despite TRU outshooting CBU 12-6 at the half.
That changed in the 51st minute when Favaro found the back of the net. A corner kick from Izett bounced around the 18-yard box before popping out to Favaro who made no mistake to hammer the ball into the back of the net.
TRU appeared well on their way to clinching their spot in the championship game before the Capers struck late.
CBU goalkeeper Daniel Clarke left his net for a corner kick in the 85th minute and his header bounced to a Cape Breton forward who struck the ball off a WolfPack defender’s hands for a penalty shot.
Cian Lynch made no mistake from the spot, placing the ball calmly past Jackson Gardner to send the game into extra time.
Elijah Dos Santos put the WolfPack back ahead just two minutes into the first extra period after he poked in a corner kick from Izett.
Once again the Capers refused to go away however and tied the game up three minutes from the final whistle off a set-piece of their own.
Ze Cunha sent in a curling ball that was nodded into the box where Mohamoud met it with a thunderous strike to tie the game at 2-2 and send it into a shootout.
For the second-straight night the WolfPack emerged victorious from the shootout, handing the No. 1 seed Capers their first loss of the season in process.
“I think we have been in control of both our games,” said Antulov. “We kept fighting back every time we hit a little bit of adversity, the guys just played really well.”
Already on the best run in program history, the WolfPack will get the chance to take the gold on home soil when they face the UBC Thunderbirds in an all Canada West championship game at 2:00 p.m. PT on Sunday.
“I told the guys that we are a team that deserves to be here, we are a quality squad and can play with anyone in Canada and we’ve proven that over the last two games,” said Antulov.
Cape Breton and Montreal will square off in the bronze medal game Sunday at 11 am, with the final set, between the Canada West rivals for 2 pm PT. Coach Mike Mosher’s crew are on quest for UBC’s 14th National Championship and Coach John Antulov’s Thompson Rivers WolfPack their first. Should be an exciting one.