To say the UNB Varsity Reds made it to the gold medal game of the 2015 CIS Men’s Soccer Championship in dramatic fashion would be a massive understatement.
Last year, the Varsity Reds tied their tournament opener with a goal in stoppage time but ultimately lost in penalty kicks. This year when taking on the Victoria Vikes UNB had yet another dramatic opener but were on the winning side.
With less than five minutes to play in regulation, Ben Gorringe tied it. A few minutes later, Ken Van Aarle scored to give UNB a 3-2 lead – their first lead of the match.
“I’ll remember this moment for the rest of my life for sure,” said Gorringe, who was named UNB’s player of game. “We’ve been working all year for this and it’s good that it’s finally coming together.”
In Saturday’s semifinal against the UQAM Citadins, the Varsity Reds went down 2-0 in the 33rd minute. Oliver Jones gave UNB some life with a goal a couple minutes later and then Diego Padilha tied it in the 45th. Robbie Park scored the winner in overtime.
“You don’t want to go down 2-0 in any game, especially in the national semifinal,” said UNB head coach Miles Pinsent
“There was still a lot of time on the clock and I just felt that if we got that first goal that would allow the boys to feel like they were back into it and that definitely happened. The boys just stuck to what we’ve been trying to do all year and I’m not willing to count these guys out until that final whistle.”
What a performance
Veteran keeper Brandon Eagle had one of his best games as a Varsity Red in Saturday’s semifinal, making seven saves in 120 minutes of action. He made several huge stops in the second half to keep the game tied and eventually allow UNB to take the lead in overtime.
“He was fantastic today,” said Pinsent, noting the windy conditions the teams had to play in.
“UQAM was a big team. There’s a lot of balls that get played in there that the keeper has to make a real quick decision on, whether he’s coming to get it or whether he’s staying, and Brandon was spot on today with each and every one of those decisions.”
Holy wind, Batman
Just how windy was it on Thursday for the opening games of the tournament? In the first game between McMaster and UQAM, players and officials had a hard time keeping the ball from rolling away as each player lined up to take their penalty kick.
Prior to the start of the UNB/Victoria match, which was the second game of the day, tournament organizers took down all the promotional tents. Even the tent covering the official’s table between the player benches was taken down. On the opposite sidelines, weights had to be put on the bottom of the advertising signage to keep them from blowing away.
Lees named All-Canadian
At CIS All-Canadian Gala on Wednesday, UNB’s Marcus Lees was named a second team All-Canadian. The third year midfielder had two goals and three helpers in 11 regular season games.
Victoria’s Cam Hundal, who was held pointless and had just two shots on goal at nationals, was named this year’s CIS player of year.
There was a moment of silence held before the UNB-UQAM semifinal game to honour the victims of Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris… Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell, the brother of Varsity Reds communications manager Andy Campbell, was in attendance for the Victoria-UNB game on Thursday… the other AUS team at the tournament, the Cape Breton Capers, finished sixth with a 1-2 record… next year’s men’s soccer championship will be held at the University of Guelph from Nov. 10-13.