MRU soccer season ends in heartbreak
By Dan Khavkin, Sports Editor
The Cougars punched their ticket into the Canada West playoffs for the third consecutive season and third time program history, but fell short to first place UBC Thunderbirds in the Canada West quarterfinals 2-1 (aet).
Going into the playoffs, the Cougars were unbeaten in their last four matches but only picking up one win in that stretch.
Ryan Gyaki’s sides finished the season 4-6-4 and secured the fourth seed and final playoff spot in the Prairie Division.
Rookie Justin Anderson-Louch co-led the team with three goal markers and an assist in 12 games.
Orest Ndabaneze only had five starts to his name but managed to net three goals on the year also with an assist. Team defense was a huge contribution to this team playoff push, finishing top-five in goals conceded and only letting in 1.29 goals a game in the league.
Team offence however was a struggle, only scoring 1.07, scoring 15 goals in total that was tied for second-last in Canada West. The Cougars suffered a heartbreaking extra-time defeat against the formidable T-Birds, dropping a 2-1(aet) marathon.
Anderson-Louch netted his first career playoff goal in the 36th but the home side proved why they were the top team, clawing back in the 58th and then broke Cougar hearts in the 100th minute.
Rookie Joshua Munoz was named to the Canada West All-Rookie team while captain Jeff Blake got second-team All-star honors.
This coming season for Cougar soccer will look to build off this season success and get over the first-round hump.
Tino Fusco led his women’s team to a 4-4-6 record and faced-off against the MacEwen Griffins, also dropping a heart-breaking marathon but in a much more painful fashion in a 3-2 (4-1 pens) match. After a solid start to the year at 4-1-2, the Cougars had a rough ending, not picking up a win in seven games while dropping four in that run.
Six of those final seven include playing teams above the Cougars with four games being against the top two teams in each division. Julien Ramirez led the way in her first year, netting two goals and two assists on the year starting in nine games. Third-year Erin Holt scored a team-high three goals in seven starts. In the playoff match, MRU were on the wrong side of luck on Oct. 27 losing the playoff match-up 3-2 (4-1 pens) in penalty kicks. Drama wasn’t short in this match with two goals being scored in the split 15 minute overtime sessions. Holt put MRU on the board to tie the game at the 44th minute mark while graduating veteran Navroop Virk miraculously pulled a 2-2 score-line into penalty kicks, equalizing in the 118th minute after being down in the 110th This was a good year for a young Cougar team who will look to build from a growing squad consisting of ten first-years.
Veteran presence will be lost with players such as Virk, center-halves Bailey Duncan and Brianna Keil, forwards Haily Lafave and captain Emily Sands.
Defender Quinn Hardstaff made history as being the first Cougar in the program to be recognized on a conference level, being named into the Canada West second all-star team.