The Cape Breton Capers are heading back to the national semifinals for the fifth consecutive season after fending off a feisty Laval Rouge et Or to claim a wild 3-2 extra-time victory in the quarterfinals of the 2021 U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship.
Owen Sheppard scored the game-winning goal for the Capers in the 116th minute to deliver the knockout blow to the Rouge et Or, whose incredible second-half comeback was all for not.
The Capers dominated the pace of play in the first half. In the 5th minute, Cape Breton’s Daniel Williams blazed down the wing and into the box past two Laval defenders before being taken down by an errant Rouge et Or tackle. The ref pointed to the spot and moments later AUS First-Team All-Star Charlie Waters stepped up and buried his penalty kick, handing the East Coast outfit a 1-0 advantage.
Kairo Coore, a Second Team All-Canadian, had a chance to add to Cape Breton’s goal tally early in the first half when he was on the receiving end of Carson Larabie cross, but Laval’s goalie Horace Patient Sobze Zemo was in the right place to turn his header away.
The Capers continued to give the Rouge et Or fits at the back with a dangerous attack that required Horace Patient Sobze Zemo to spring into action for some big stops.
Despite being denied a second goal in the first half, it didn’t take long for the Capers to add to their lead in the second half as Charlie Waters tallied his second score of the game with a sublime strike from 30 yards in the 55th minute. The Blackpool, UK product saw an opening from the right flank, took one dribble and fired an absolute missile across the goal into the top left corner for an early goal-of-the-tournament contender.
Despite facing a 2-0 deficit late in regulation, the Rouge et Or piled on the pressure in an attempt to save their season. In the 74th minute, midfielder Baptiste Toussaint provided the RSEQ finalists with a lifeline by notching a goal with 15 minutes to play.
Backed by a raucous group of supporters, Laval dominated possession and wreaked havoc in the Cape Breton half with a seemingly endless number of opportunities in the final stages.
In the game’s waning moments, and in the most dramatic fashion possible, Laval tied the contest on the final play of regulation when midfielder Jean-Philippe Levesque harnessed the ball in the 18-yard box and volleyed it past Capers keeper Daniel Clarke to level the game in the 95th moment at 2-2, sending the crowd and his teammates into ecstasy.
With the game in extra time, both teams battled for the winner to send them through to the semifinals. The Rouge et Or had several menacing corner kicks that the Capers had to deal with, including one that dropped to Rouge et Or defender Doryan Soualem, whose audacious bicycle kick attempt flew wide of the Cape Breton goal.
Entering the second stanza of extra time after defending vigorously for the first fifteen minutes of overtime, the Capers rediscovered their offensive prowess.
In the 116th minute of extra time, Charlie Waters took possession at half before sending an excellently weighted through pass to Owen Sheppard, who took several dribbles before smashing the ball past across Laval’s goalie and into the opposite corner for the 3-2 game-winning dagger.
Having survived a first-round scare, the Capers will move on to face the winner of the Carleton Ravens-UBC Thunderbirds quarterfinal #4 game in Saturday’s second semifinal at 4:30 PM EST. The Rouge et Or will take on the loser in Friday’s consolation semifinal at 4:30 PM EST.
Nike Team Players of the Game
- CBU: Kairo Coore
- LAV: Jean-Philippe Levesque
CBU: 1-1-1: 3
LAV: 0-2-0: 2
CBU Charlie Waters (1), 5th minute
CBU Charlie Waters (2), 55th minute
LAV Baptiste Toussaint (1), 74th minute
LAV Jean-Philippe Levesque (1), 90th (+5) minute
Extra Time CBU Owen Sheppard (1), 116th minute