The Cape Breton Capers’ dream season continues as the No.1-ranked team in the nation will play for the 2017 U SPORTS Respect Group Men’s Soccer Championship. The Capers needed a pair of goals in overtime to beat the host Thompson Rivers WolfPack 4-2.
With over 1,000 fans packed into Hillside Stadium, the top-ranked Capers silenced the crowd early. Just over a minute in, U SPORTS Second Team All-Canadian Cory Bent took advantage of a miscue by WolfPack defender Josh Banton, stealing the ball and blasting it low left side by TRU keeper Allan Connor.
The WolfPack would respond in the 11th minute, when Banton took a ball down in front of the Capers net. In a scramble, the ball wound up on the foot of two-time U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian Ryan Glanville. The 33-year-old native of Williams Lake, B.C., made no mistake, finding open net on the left side on Cape Breton’s Ben Jackson.
That first goal was scored on a set piece and TRU took the lead in the 20th minute on a similar play. Canada West Player of the Year and U SPORTS First Team All-Canadian Mitchell Popadynetz took a corner kick, which wound up on the right foot of James Fraser, who one-timed it for his fifth goal of the postseason and a 2-1 lead at the half
In the second half, the Capers tied it up in the 53rd minute, thanks to the speed of Caelan Budhoo who started it off with a run down the left side. When he reached the goal line, he centered it for Stuart Heath, who one-timed it past Connor.
In extra time, Cape Breton capitalized on a set piece of their own. Four minutes into the first extra period, Budhoo took a corner kick and it was converted by Health for his second of the match.
Then, in the 12th minute of the first OT, Charlie Waters converted on a free kick - his third marker of the national tournament - eluding Connor as Waters beat the TRU keeper on the lower right side.
Au retour de la pause, les Capers ont égalisé le match à la 53e minute, grâce à la vitesse de Caelan Budhoo. Ce dernier à monter le terrain du côté gauche, puis lorsqu’il a atteint la ligne des buts, il a centré le ballon pour son coéquipier Stuart Heath qui n’a eu qu’à rediriger la passe au fond du filet.
En période de prolongation, le Cap-Breton a été opportuniste. À la quatrième minute de prolongation, Budhoo a obtenu un coup de pied de coin, et sa frappe a trouvé preneur alors que Health a réussi son deuxième but de la rencontre.
Puis, à la 12e minute de la première période de prolongation, Charlie Waters a converti un coup franc avec une frappe courbée parfaite à la droite du gardien Waters. Pour Waters, il s’agissait de son troisième filet lors de ce championnat national.
That was just fantastic. Just loved the passion of the crowd, the energy and the commitment of all the players. We got the early goal and then they got one back and the fans were pumped up. It was great to experience. I think the TRU players fed off that and put two goals in.
Dean Morley - Capers coach
“The guys really battled today,” stated TRU head coach John Antulov. “They showed resilience. Even when we went down 4-2 in the second overtime we had four or five great scoring opportunities. They didn’t quit. They kept on fighting. “
Despite the loss, both coaches felt TRU’s showing has put the program on the national map.
I look at the last two weeks, we have beaten the last three national champions. We took the No.1 team to double overtime. I thought we gave them a very good game. They are a very, very good side. There is no question about that. We gave them a real solid battle and fought right till the end.
John Antulov - TRU head coach
“(There is) so much for the athletic director, the coach, the players and the community to look forward to here,” Morley said of the WolfPack’s development. “They knocked York out last night, they took the No.1 team in the country to double overtime. Holy smokes, if this is just the beginning, they are going places.”
The Capers will meet the Montreal Carabins in Sunday’s gold medal game at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT. The bronze medal match will feature a Canada West battle between the conference champion UBC Thunderbirds and the WolfPack at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT. The teams last met in the Canada West semifinal, with UBC winning 3-1.
The consolation final will see the two Ontario teams - York and Carleton - facing off on Remembrance Day at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 pm PT
Players of the game:
- Thompson Rivers: Mitchell Popadynetz
- Cape Breton: Caelan Budhoo