Frederic Lajoie-Gravelle’s hat trick powered a dominant performance on Thursday afternoon, as they claimed a 3-0 win over the University of New Brunswick Reds to move past the opening round of U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship.
Everything seemed to run towards Lajoie-Gravelle, as his three goals were all assisted on terrific balls from Zakaria Messoudi, Reda Aboulhamid, and Omar Kreim, respectively.
Montreal head coach Pat Raimondo was effusive about his offensive centerpiece.
“Fred is fantastic,” stated Raimondo. “Everybody just sees the game day goals, I see him all week at practice, he’s fantastic for the dressing room, fantastic for the coaching staff. He’s a great example, a good student, he’s been a joy to coach the last three years.”
On its back foot, UNB nearly drew first blood against the grain at the 10-minute mark, as freshman striker Keji Adeniyi pounced on a ricochet off a free kick, just unable to beat Montreal keeper Félix Goulet.
Lajoie-Gravelle was gifted maybe the best opportunity to break the match open for the Carabins. Fifteen minutes in, the fifth-year senior found himself alone at the top of the box, and his low rocket was stymied by Barker.
However, amidst torrent of chances, Lajoie-Gravelle finally broke the nil-nil draw in the 31st minute. Taking a feed from Messoudi while moving down the right flank, the 25-year old attacker moved made a sharp cut towards the middle and fired a curling strike around Reds keeper Evan Barker.
The Carabins didn’t let up for a second in the back half of the opening stanza, throwing wave after wave of pressure at Barker and the Reds backline. Only the UNB keeper, who made seven saves in the first 45 minutes, kept the contest from getting out of hand.
UNB came out firing in the second frame, as Dan Walker nearly pulled the Reds level just five minutes into the stanza. After a defender’s clearance rolled right into his path, UNB’s leading scorer put a bullet just inches over the bar.
Lajoie-Gravelle’s second of the game came on a brilliant breakout from the Carabins, as rookie Rida Aboulhamid found the forward streaking down the middle of the park with a high-arcing ball. Putting it on goal with a one-touch shot, Lajoie-Gravelle caught Barker’s rebound and buried it to put Montreal up 2-0.
UNB’s Joe Hamilton nearly got the Reds back within one, as the English-born defender raced up the pitch and took a terrific feed off the left flank, with Montreal keeper Samuel Dufort making a terrific stop to keep UNB off the board. Dufort would end up making three saves for the clean sheet.
Less than two minutes later, Lajoie-Gravelle finished off his spectacular afternoon on another darting run, accepting a through ball from Kreim in stride. Lajoie-Gravelle bore down full speed on Barker before chipping the ball just out of the keeper’s reach to put the game out of reach.
Coasting to the victory, Montreal will now prepare to face the Trinity Western Spartans, who upset the York Lions in the day’s opening quarterfinal matchup. The Carabins and Spartans are set to square off at 7:00 p.m. ET / 4:00 p.m. PT Friday afternoon.
“We would have hoped to get the second goal a little bit earlier but the boys did well, they trained well this week, they were excited to play,” said Raimondo. “Now it’s about regeneration and recuperation for tomorrow because Trinity is a quality, quality team.”
The Red and Lions will open tomorrow’s consolation round with a matchup at 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 am PT
Players of the Game
- Montreal: Frederic Lajoie-Gravelle
- New Brunswick: Ben Gorringe