While one celebrated a three-peat, the other celebrated the long road of an undefeated season, as the Providence University College Pilots women’s team, and the Université de Saint-Boniface Les Rouges men are the 2014 MCAC Champions.
For Providence, this was their third straight title, and an especially sweet one in front of their home crowd. But for Saint-Boniface, the howling winds weren’t even close to muting their celebration, as not only can they call themselves “Undefeated”, but they can now call themselves “Champions”.
Neither team had an easy route to the title, as both games played very even throughout. In the women’s match, it was Red River College who dictated the play early on, including a beautiful chance by Melony Dittbrenner who was met by an equally impressive stop from goalkeeper Kate Osadchuk.
Osadchuk continued to keep the score even, with a couple more key saves in the first half, until Providence finally started picking up some momentum and keeping the play on the Rebels half. The pressure resulted in a free-kick for Player of the Game Jessica Gzebb, who curved it around a wall defenders and into the short side of the net to give her team the lead going into the second half.
As the wind picked up, chances were hard to come by, as the second half became a hard-fought defensive affair. In the second, Providence proved to be too much to take on in the midfield, and regardless of what they threw at the Pilots, the Rebels simply couldn’t get into the dangerous areas for big scoring chances.
Eventually, the whistle blew, and Providence was once again able to celebrate as MCAC Champions. For the Pilots, Jessica Caul had yet another strong performance, using her speed and hustle to create plays on a day where offense was hard to come by. Her strong play earned her the MCAC Final Four Tournament MVP.
In the men’s match, it wasn’t until late in the second half where it was really clear who would take home the victory. Saint-Boniface came out strong, with a couple of big chances in the first five minutes. Until half way through the second half, it didn’t look like anything was getting past goalkeeper Arunjeet Johal, who was really the story of the first half, turning aside some very difficult chances from a strong Les Rouges offense.Despite early pressure from their opponents, the Rebels fought back with chances of their own which, unfortunately, were met with various parts of the goalposts. However, it was the Rebels who ended up starting the scoring, with a textbook header from Player of the Game Derek Tessier.
The second half began similar to the first, with both teams trading blows. However, as the game wore on, Saint-Boniface continued pursuing, finally resulting in Elmahdi Khattabi notching his first of two goals to tie the game up. After Khattabi delivered a perfectly placed header to go up 2-1, it was Player of the Game Seifeddine Dahaoui who iced the game with an incredible strike into the top corner.
Leading the charge all tournament long was the dynamic offense of MCAC MVP Marouane Imaghri, who also earned the title of Final Four MVP at the end of the match.
The Saint-Boniface celebration was as energetic as their play on the field, and as they lifted the trophy it officially brought an end to the MCAC soccer season. Congratulations to our Champions, and all who competed this season to help make it one of the most competitive the conference has ever had.
Photos and Story Courtesy of Joey Traa and MCAC