BY Kelly McGuinness-MCAC
The Red River Rebels entered this game completely foreign to the feeling of losing. After a perfect regular season record of 8-0 and a fairly relaxed 4-0 win in their semifinal game, Red River was just 90 minutes away from perfection. So you can imagine their feeling when the Bobcats came roaring out of the gates in the Final, perhaps more than Red River gave them credit for. From the very beginning, 50/50 balls were being won by Brandon and their ball movement was extremely precise. The Rebels were able to get shots on net but Brandon’s keeper, Natasha Rupa, was excellent in turning away everything she saw.
Brandon got on the board first when Jaycee Castle got a favourable bounce and slipped past the Rebels’ defence before scoring high corner. Given Red River’s record entering the game, trailing in the Final was clearly not part of the plan. Also notable was the addition of the BU men’s soccer team to the crowd. Chanting loudly and often in favour of their women’s team, their noise and banter seemed to add to BU’s lead.
At halftime, BU defender Jade Barrault summed up the first half.
“Fast and intense. Which it always is in a Final. It felt like we were ready to play right from the start. They’re really upset and it’s kind of hurting their team”.
Referencing the Rebels’ disdain for a few calls made by the head ref in the first half, Barrault and the Bobcats knew the Rebels were going to enter the second wanting to erase their deficit as soon as possible.
Both teams attacked very well, but the strong and responsible play by both team’s midfield – namely RRC’s Kelsie Pauls and BU’s Aziza Kinnarath – made it look like the game would end with the lone goal. But with about 10 minutes to play, Lacey Finnbogason put what appeared to be a fairly pedestrian shot on net and it slipped right through Rupa’s hands as she tried to grab the ball above her head. Even the Rebels looked shocked. They suddenly had life, and Rupa’s perfect play up until that point was suddenly neutralized.
Now late in the game, the words “penalty kicks” could be overheard on the sidelines. But tournament MVP, Kaelyn Vincent, didn’t have time for that. Playing with an edge all weekend, Vincent had, up until that point, had an exceptional Championship weekend. From about halfway between Rupa’s penalty area and midfield, Vincent unloaded a soaring ball that at one point looked destined for field goal territory. But instead of splitting uprights, it split the outstretched hands of Rupa and the Rebels were now winning the Final 2-1.
“I found an opportunity to shoot, not thinking it was going to go in. I didn’t really think it was going to go in but it just went in. It was a good feeling”.
These late theatrics clearly had an affect on BU who saw their 1-0 lead slip away within the span of about 10 minutes. They tried valiantly to make up for their mini collapse but simply ran out of time.
The Red River College Rebels finish the season with a perfect record and a championship trophy.
Players of the game were BU’s Kinnarath and RRC’s Paul.
Kaelyn Vincent was named Championship Most Valuable Player.