Photos: CBU Athletics
Despite their loss to the Cape Breton University Capers in the AUS finals, the UNB Varsity Reds have earned a spot in the USport national soccer championships.
UNB fought hard this past weekend to claim a spot in the AUS final match-up against CBU. They began the conference tournament by facing off against the number six seed, the Memorial University Seahawks. The Reds had a strong showing, scoring all of their goals in the first half and winning 3-0.
UNB then went on to meet the St. FX X-Men in the semi-finals—a team that they had lost to in the regular season by a score of 1-0. Varsity Red Matt Quigley scored early in the second half to give the team a lead that they would defend until the game-ending whistle.
Their strong defense—bolstered thanks to a shutout by All-Canadian keeper Evan Barker—gave UNB their chance at an AUS banner in the final game against the number one seed in the AUS: CBU.
UNB started off strong with a couple of scoring opportunities that fell short early in the first half. CBU captain Stuart Heath capitalized on a pass by AUS rookie of the Year Charlie Waters to head the ball just out of Barker’s reach and into the net.
Despite a comprehensive effort on both the UNB defensive and offensive lines, the Reds were unable to take control of the game and fell to the Capers 1-0. CBU commanded nearly three quarters of ball possession.
The two teams met in UNB’s home-opener earlier this season, finishing with a 1-1 tie.
“The games at AUS were fantastic for us to prepare for nationals,” said senior player Marcus Lees. “We beat two teams in playoffs that beat [us] in regular season; we also beat a [nationally] ranked top ten team. [That] was great leading into the final. CBU did well to hold their own in the final as the number one team in the country, beating us 1-0.”
The V-Reds are set to compete in the USport National Championships this weekend. UNB will be facing off against the top Canada West team, the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, in the tournament’s first quarter-final match.
“For nationals this week, I think our matchup against UBC will be a good test,” said Lees. “I believe we have an opportunity to medal this year. Especially for some of us fifth-year players, we are going to put all our effort into bringing victories home.”
The last time that these teams met was in 2012, also in the national championship’s quarter-final. The V-Reds fell to the Thunderbirds 4-0, and the T-Birds went on to win the championships.
This year, the Thunderbirds are gearing up to compete for their 14th national banner. If the Reds win, they will play either the University of Montreal, Carleton, Thompson Rivers University, York, CBU, or Université du Québec à Montréal in the semi-finals. The Capers will be matched against UQAM for their quarter-final match on the Nov. 6. The tournament will be hosted by TRU in Kamloops, B.C from Nov. 6-12.