OTTAWA– A Jérémy Ménard brace was the difference in Saturday afternoon’s consolation final, as the Laval Rouge et Or defeated the Victoria Vikes, 3-0, to capture fifth place at the 2021 U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship.
Laval, the RSEQ finalist, and Victoria, the Canada West finalist, battled for consolation bracket bragging rights to close out their seasons, with the Rouge et Or ending their campaign on a winning note.
First-year Rouge et Or forward Ménard put Laval ahead after 11 minutes with a clinical finish in front of goal. His teammate Jean-Philippe Levesque did most of the work in the build-up play, fending off multiple Vikes defenders before dropping it off to Ménard who made no mistake making it 1-0.
Victoria, the Canada West silver medalist, sat back and allowed the Rouge et Or to control the tempo in the first half, with Laval enjoying a lion’s share of the possession in the opening forty-five.
The Vikes’ best chance to level the game arrived in the 35th minute when leading scorer Ian Whibley blasted a low drive at goal from close range, but Laval keeper Philippe Blouin made a hockey-style kick save to deny the striker an equalizer.
With a one-goal advantage at the break, the Rouge et Or came out looking to add to their lead as forward Wassim Chaouki headed a loose ball towards goal from six yards out, but a sure-handed Vikes goalie Harjot Nijjar made an acrobatic stop to keep it a one-goal game.
In the 55th minute, a scary collision in the Rouge et Or box saw both Vikes All-Canadian centre back Evan Libke and Laval defender Doryan Soualem go down for a short time, but both players were able to walk off the pitch and return to action.
The Rouge et Or doubled their lead in the 70th minute when an innocent-looking free kick from their own half took a high bounce over the Victoria backline where Ménard rushed in to produce a composed finish to make it 2-0 for the Rouge et Or.
In the final minute, Laval grabbed a third for good measure as some neat dribbling from Baptiste Toussaint drew several Vikes defenders before he lay it off to a wide-open Lorenzo Didon who put it past Nijjar to make it a 3-0 final for the Rouge et Or.
NIKE Players of the Game
- VIC: #9 Ian Whibley
- LAV: #9 Jérémy Ménard
VIC: 0-0: 0
LAV: 1-2: 3
LAV Jérémy Ménard (1), 11th minute
LAV Jérémy Ménard (2), 70th minute
LAV Lorenzo Didon (1), 90th minute