Guy-Frank Essomé Penda’s penalty strike in a shootout proved to be the winner as the Montreal Carabins defeated the Victoria Vikes 2-1and move onto the semifinals in the U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship on Thursday in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
The Carabins and Vikes needed 120 minutes and penalty kicks to decide a winner, with Montreal edging Victoria 4-3 in the shootout to claim the win and move on.
Victoria withstood an early onslaught from the RSEQ champion Carabins for the opening ten minutes before making a push of their own.
The Vikes nearly capitalised on their first genuine scoring chance of the afternoon when U SPORTS All-Canadian defender Evan Libke forced Montreal keeper Félix Goulet to make a diving save to preserve a nil-nil scoreline.
In the 33rd minute, Montreal came close to scoring a go-ahead goal when midfielder Quentin Paumier sent a sublime delivery into the box where teammate Paul Mortas met the ball with a header at goal, only to be tipped over the crossbar by Vikes keeper Jared Perras.
The Vikes responded with a high-pressure attack, forcing Montreal into several defensive miscues. Close to halftime, UVic’s Jose Sagaste found himself with space just outside of the box before leaning into a low drive through traffic but was denied by a sure-handed Goulet in the Carabins net.
The second half began with some excellent chances for both teams, but it was the Vikes who took the lead in the 55th minute. A high delivery from out on the right flank grazed the head of Vikes forward Ian Whibley before finding its way to an open UVic captain Isaac Koch in the box. The 5th year senior one-timed a low, hard shot under the body of a diving Félix Goulet to give the Vikes a 1-0 advantage.
Looking to level the score, Montreal replied with sustained pressure in UVic territory, with the best chance coming from defender Ben Thomazeau, who struck an ambitious 30-yard strike that narrowly missed the corner.
The Carabins’ patience would finally pay off in the 80th minute as first-year forward Alexis Stevens drew the game level with a seasoned veteran’s delicate finish in stride, receiving the ball in close before calmly depositing his shot over the keeper and into the opposite corner of the goal to tie at the game at 1-1.
Montreal continued to feed the ball to Stevens down the right side, as he nearly added a second goal minutes later, but was turned away by the cat-like reflexes of Harjot Nijjar in the Vikes net.
With the teams even at a goal apiece after 90 minutes, the game would head to extra time.
Montreal’s Guy-Frank Essomé-Penda – the 2021 U SPORTS Player of the Year – had the first good scoring chance in the first extra-time period when he escaped his defender in the box before unleashing a hard shot wide and into the side netting.
Moments later, Carabins forward Thierry Côté came agonizingly close to giving his side the go-ahead goal. Taking possession of a lobbed ball over the Vikes’ defenders, Côté took several dribbles before blasting the ball past Nijjar, only to see his strike rattle the post and remain out.
Both teams had one final opportunity before the final whistle blew, as a dangerous Victoria through ball required Carabins goalie Félix Goulet to leave his goal and make a diving header clearance away from a marauding Ian Whibley. On the final play of overtime, Montreal’s Lohan Lefevre walked in on goal, but his strike hit the post, sending the game to a shootout.
Victoria’s Isaac Koch stepped up and scored his opening penalty, while Montreal’s Quentin Paumier struck the crossbar with a thunderous blast down the middle. Both teams converted in the second round, but the third round saw UVic’s Sergio Duran low attempt to the right saved by Goulet. After Alexis Stevens tied up the shootout at 2-2 after three, the teams exchanged goals in the fourth round to setup a nerve-wracking sudden death fifth round. The Vikes’ Matteo Ventura was stopped on a low drive to the left, setting up Montreal’s Guy-Frank Essomé-Penda for a final shot which he calmly slotted into the bottom right corner to hand the Carabins a massive victory.
Montreal will take on Guelph in the first semifinal on Saturday at 1:30 PM EST. The Victoria Vikes will take on Saint Mary’s in the consolation semifinal on Friday at 1:30 PM EST.
Nike Team Players of the Game
- VIC: Evan Libke
- MTL: Guy-Frank Essomé-Penda
VIC: 0-1: 1
MTL: 0-1: 1
VIC Isaac Koch (1), 55th minute
MTL Alexis Stevens (1), 80th minute
VIC Isaac Koch, goal (1-0)
MTL Quentin Paumier, miss (1-0)
VIC Evan Libke, goal (2-0)
MTL Kareem Sow, goal (2-1)
VIC Sergio Duran, save
MTL Alexis Stevens, goal
VIC Rees Goertzen, goal
MTL Adam Benmoussa, goal
VIC Matteo Ventura, save
MTL Guy-Frank Essomé-Penda, goal