Men’s soccer team attends national tournament in British Columbia
After a successful OUA campaign, the men’s soccer team took their game to the U Sports national tournament
After successfully defeating Toronto Metropolitan University in the Ontario University Athletic championship game, the Marauder men’s team looked to continue their impressive win streak at the U Sports national tournament. This year’s tournament was hosted in Kamloops, B.C., where the team would face both freezing weather and higher level opponents.
The OUA finals win was already an impressive feat by the Marauders as coming into the offseason, they were not the favourites to make it to the finals.
“The OUA conference is the toughest in the country for soccer and no one really gave us a chance, especially under the circumstances,” said head coach Chris Markou.
Through defeating the Guelph Gryphons, Nippising Lakers and TMU, the team did the seemingly impossible. They subsequently put themselves in a spot to take on the Thompson River Wolfpack, the hosts of this year’s U Sports National Championship.
Facing sub-zero temperatures, the Marauders would have to face two major obstacles. The first being the new weather, which TRU would be better accustomed to. They would also face an opponent who had much older players, bringing more experience.
“We had the youngest team assembled there,” explained Markou.
The first game of the tournament would see the Marauder side lose to TRU in a disappointing fashion. Following a tie at the end of regulation and a scoreless overtime period the team lost in penalty kicks. A missed shot by Justin Woods caused the team to fall to the Wolfpack team, finishing with a 5-4 score in penalty kicks.
Though the team put on an impressive display overall. The game finished 1-1 with a spectacular free kick goal hitting the back of the net by Miles Green. Other notable performances were put on by Ahmad Mansour, Sam Richardson and Justin Wood.
The Wolfpack ended up building on this early momentum, later matchup against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in the final. TRU would go on to win this game by a score of 2-1, taking home the national championship on their home turf. The Marauders on the other hand would head into the consolation bracket as a result of their first-round loss.
The Marauders played the following day against the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes. After a grueling 120 minutes of soccer the day prior, the team was unable to stand up against UQTR.
“We had just played 120 minutes against the host school and then we were back on the pitch for Friday on a quick 16 hour game turnaround for UQTR at 1:30 PM. There is little to no recovery time and we had a few players that physically couldn't carry on the Friday. To be able to mentally pick yourself up from such a close loss to play a consolation match the next day is such a challenge for any athlete,” said Markou.
After a red card was given to centre back Ahmad Mansour, the team lost control of the game. The final score was 5-0, seeing UQTR win and thus, having the opportunity to play a third game to challenge for the fifth place spot in the tournament.
Two disappointing results for the Marauders saw them exit the tournament early. But for such a young team the experience is invaluable.
“U Sport Soccer Championships was a fantastic learning experience for not only the players but for myself and my coaching staff,” said Markou.
Their last game against UQTR marks the end of the team’s season. As a team with a new head coach, and 11 new athletes joining the Marauders, the team will hope to continue their upward growth from here.