The Cape Breton Capers earned the right to defend their national title on Friday night, punching their ticket with a dominant 5-2 triumph over the Carleton Ravens in the U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship semifinals.
The Capers got a two-goal performance from Stuart Heath, and brilliant showings from midfielders Lewis White (two assists) and Corey Bent (one goal, five shots) en route to the win. Cape Breton will need every weapon as they prepare to face the Montreal Carabins in Sunday’s championship match for the second straight year.
“I’m more proud at this moment right now,” said Cape Breton head coach Deano Morley. “Because after winning last year, being able to hit the reset button and put all the work in and go through the process, to get back here I’m really proud we get to have a rematch of last year’s final.”
Only a brilliant stop from CBU keeper Ben Jackson on Stefan Karajovanovic kept the game scoreless early, as the second-year forward made a cracking run through the middle of the pitch and found himself in alone, but Jackson got just enough of his attempt on goal to deflect it wide.
In the 14th minute, Cape Breton struck off the set piece, as Heath got on the end of a Lewis White corner, and the defender did well to knock it past Nick Jeffs.
The star of Thursday night’s game against UBC, Gabriel Bitar nearly equalized for the Ravens in the 29th minute. Taking aim from 30 yards out, Bitar labelled a rocket for the top left corner, which Jackson just managed to snare.
Just a minute later, CBU did, in fact, get the equalizer, as Karajovanovic held up on the right flank before dropping a cross into the heart of the Capers defence. Ricky Comba was ready and waiting, and the second-year midfielder put the header in behind Jackson.
In the 35th, Carleton midfielder Tristan St. Pierre inadvertently put CBU back out in front. Sliding back to block a cross from Capers forward Daniel Williams, St. Pierre deflected it up and behind Jeffs, who was caught off-guard.
Three minutes into the second half, Cape Breton came inches away from adding an insurance marker. On a White free kick, Marcus Campanile got up and put the header off the crossbar. The ball ricocheted off both the bar and Jeffs’ head before getting cleared off the line.
At 56 minutes, White got his second assist of the game in spectacular fashion, picking off a breakout pass off the Carleton backline before whipping in a brilliant cross from the left flank. The ball found Corey Bent in stride, and the midfielder tucked the ball inside the left post to make it 3-1.
Bent nearly put the game to bed just a couple of minutes later, as he picked off a backwards pass from St. Pierre and broke in alone on Jeffs, only to put the ball up high over the bar.
The Capers did eventually put the game out of reach in the 75th minute, as Heath got his head on an arcing cross from Daniel Pritchard after a long stretch of Capers possession, putting Cape Breton up by three.
CBU’s Mitchell Wong and St. Pierre traded markers in stoppage time, leaving the final score 5-2 for the Capers.
With the two final matches of the tournament set for Sunday, Carleton and the Trinity Western Spartans will open the slate with their third-place showdown at 2:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT. Meanwhile, the Capers and Carabins are set to kickoff at 5:00 p.m. ET/2:00 p.m. ET in the national championship match.
“They’re a very good side, a quality side,” said Morley of the Carabins. “They’ve got some very dangerous players up top and I think they’re a senior side too and very mature. I haven’t really looked at them too much, I’ve been focused on where I’m at now, but I’ll have a good look now and try to get organized. Two good sides – we’ll have to be ready.”
Players of the Game
- Cape Breton: Corey Bent
- Carleton: Stefan Karajovanovic