With the 2-1 win over the SAIT Trojans the team earned themselves a ticket to Seneca College in Toronto for the national finals.
“[They] faced some adversity there, especially in the final [against SAIT],” said Kyle Henry, events and communications coordinator for Cougar Athletics.
He said that the win helps to draw players to MRU and builds prestige of the program.
The adversity Henry mentioned came in the form of the Cougars taking the match despite being down 1-0 with two minutes left to play in the final match.
Head coach Troy Flannery said the tying goal came after several chances by the team. When OT failed to produce a goal by either side, Flannery explained that despite the Cougars generating more chances, the match came down to penalty kicks. With goaltender Luigi Caria out with an undisclosed injury it was up to backup ‘tender Tudor Dinca.
The second-year made saves against SAIT’s Francisco Miron and Bryan Baker while his team provided penalty kick offense with goals from Kyle Yamada, Jamie McDonald, Justin Farenik and Tom Widdowson.
Henry said that Dinca played extremely well and made some key saves throughout the match.
The teams first match of the tournament against Grant MacEwan resulted in a 2-0 finish followed by a 3-2 come-from-behind against NAIT and then the huge win against rivals SAIT for the gold.
“I think that adds to the emotion,” said Flannery about playing the three games in three days and facing off against SAIT in the final. On the win Flannery said, “It always feels pretty good.”
As for the team’s effort Flannery couldn’t single out any one player saying that “absolutely every member of the team played to the best of their abilities…I would say we got contribution from all 21 guys.” He added that included players on the bench and injured.
As for what’s left to work on before heading to finals?
“I’d prefer not to go behind in games,” the head coach said with a laugh. He added that the goals for the team would be to score early and manage the game from there like they did with MacEwan.
“The good news is we know we can battle.”
Third-year midfielder Kyle Yamada was nominated by the CCAA for soccer player of the year. Yamada scored six goals in nine games for the Cougars.
The Cougars have a by on the first day of the tournament but meet up with F.X Garneau Elans of Quebec on Nov.5 and then Algonquin College of Ottawa on Nov. 6.