WolfPack Wins First U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Title
One could say, “This is how the west was won.” The spaghetti western writers of Hollywood couldn’t have asked for more drama from the Wolfpack winning in three straight shootouts at the U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship presented by RBC, three shootouts, three WolfPack wins.
The script writers of USPORTS got all they could handle in the excitement department. A home team in the final for the third straight year, an “all west final” for a maximum standing room only 2400 fans at Hillside Stadium Sunday evening. The sell out crowd and a clutch shootout as the sun was setting for the home town heroes from Thompson Rivers University capture their first national title in a 2-1 win and the first for their school in any sport, over the UBC Thunderbirds at the 2022 U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship presented by RBC.
“I’m glad that we can be the standard-bearer and bring this title home because it shows that you can get it done at a small school,” said WolfPack head coach John Antulov. “I’ve believed that since day one when I took over, that just because you’re at a small school doesn’t mean you can’t get it done.”
Alesandro Comita for TRU and Daniel Kaiser for UBC both scored in extra time, while Domenico Comita played hero for the WolfPack with the shootout-clinching goal.
A back-and-forth game throughout regulation shifted in UBC’s favour in the 69th minute when the WolfPack were reduced to ten men after a TRU player picked up his second yellow card.
TRU was unable to run out the 90 minutes to send the game to extra time and then took the lead against all odds with five minutes left in the first overtime frame.
Jost Hausendorf went on a great solo run and played a cross in that Alesandro Comita sent into the back of the net for the first goal of the game.
The Thunderbirds refused to go away without a fight, however and the captain Daniel Kaiser knotted the game back up with just five minutes left to play.
Thomas Gardner sent a free-kick into the box that Kaiser perfectly flicked into the back of the WolfPack net.
As for a comment on his players, especially the Comita brothers, “The Comita boys are unbelievable kids, they are the ultimate team guys,” said Antulov. “Domenico could have put his head down with him not playing, but he comes in, plays fantastic and hits the winning penalty kick, it just shows his character.”
Needing a shootout victory at both the quarter-final and semifinal stages of the tournament, TRU took that high-pressure experience and used it to their advantage.
Goalkeeper Jackson Gardner made a pair of stops, and five members of TRU scored from the penalty spot, including Domenico Comita with the all-important winner in the seventh round of the shootout to send TRU to the historic victory.
“The guys never put their head down, they just battling and fought. They looked at each other and said let’s be resilient,” said Antulov. “We displayed dogged defending all the way through and for us to defend the way we did one man down against a team that scores the way they do just shows unbelievable character.”
In the bronze medal match played earlier on Sunday, a dominant showing by the Montreal Carabins gave them a 3-0 victory over the Cape Breton Capers and secured them a top-three finish in the nation for the fifth-year in a row.
Thierry Cote tallied twice, with Nadjib Chemil adding a goal and an assist, while Zacharie Belamri finished with a pair of assists.
The Carabins took the lead just three minutes into the game.
Chemil controlled a ball deep in the Carabins’ box and was able to cut it back into the path of an onrushing Cote who powered the ball into the back of the net.
Montreal doubled their lead ten minutes after the halftime break.
Belamri whipped a cross into the 18-yard box, and Chemil rose higher than all the Capers’ defenders to send the ball across the line for the goal.
A bright spot in the game for Cape Breton was the play of Jordan Watkins, who made eight saves in the Capers’ net, including five in the second half.
Montreal put the game away in the 64th minute of play. Belamri forced a turnover deep in the Capers’ end and slipped the ball through to Cote who made no mistake for his second goal of the game and third of the tournament.
Akwasi Agyekum, Midfielder, TRU
Championship All-Star Team
Jackson Gardner, Goalkeeper, TRU
Josh Banton, Defender, TRU
Daniel Kaiser, Defender, UBC
Elijah Dos Santos, Defender, TRU
Markus Kaiser, Midfielder, UBC
Thomas Gardner, Midfielder, UBC
Adam Benmoussa, Midfielder, Montreal
Akwasi Agyekum, Midfielder, TRU
Logan Chung, Midfielder, UBC
Thierry Cote, Striker, Montreal
Gabriel Wiethaeuper-Balbinotti, Striker, UQTR
R.W Pugh Fair Play Award
With the championships completed here are the USPORTS 2022 final top 8:
USPORTS Final 8
- Thompson Rivers University
- Cape Breton
- Toronto Metropolitan University
- St. Francis Xavier University
- McMaster University