Friday, 11 November 2011

CIS Men's Championship - Quarter-Finals

Thursday featured all four quarter-final matches at the CIS Men's Championships being help at Centennial Stadium at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

The opening match of the day featured AUS Champion Saint Mary's matching up against the RSEQ finalist McGill Redmen. This was followed by the Canada West Champion Alberta Golden Bears against the OUA finalist Toronto Varsity Blues. Cape Breton Capers, the AUS regular season winners matched up against the OUA Champion McMaster Marauders in the third game of the day, setting the stage for the RSEQ Champion Montreal Carabins to face the host Victoria Vikes.

The first game featured the AUS Champion Saint Mary's Huskies facing off against the McGill Redmen. Saint Mary's came into this game as probably the hottest team in Canada after they reeled off wins against the top three teams in the Atlantic conference, finishing with a 6-0 pounding of UPEI. The Huskies continued their strong play from last weekend, dominating the Redmen early in the match and scoring an opener in the 15th minute when Elvir Gigolaj beat McGill's goalkeeper Charles Kelly to the ball and headed it over him and into the open goal for a 1-0 lead. Two minutes later a hand-ball in McGill penalty area was ruled to by "ball to hand" by the match official, avoiding a potential penalty kick.

After that non-call McGill began putting the pressure on Saint Mary's and the Huskies tried to take advantage of McGill's stretched defense by counter-attacking. McGill had the best chances of the rest of the half including a goal by Alexander Damianou being called back due to offside. The Huskies took their 1-0 lead into half-time.

The second half started off slowly with the Huskies getting the better chances, one stopped by Kelly and the other going well over the net. In the 64th minute Derek Gaudet put the ball across to Ian Coke and he made no mistake knocking the ball into the back of the net heading the ball toward the far post. Kelly got his hand on the ball, but could not keep the scoreline from going to 2-0. McGill got back into the game within four minutes as Sebastian Munro pounced on a blocked cross that fell right to his feet and he was able to pound it past goalkeeper Adam Miller to bring the score to 2-1.

The rest of the game was all McGill as they put on the pressure, but the Saint Mary's defense was able to keep them out of the goal and the final chance of the game was put just over the crossbar and the final whistle blew with Saint Mary's moving onto the semi-final.

The second match of the day was between the University of Toronto Varsity Blues and the Alberta Golden Bears and featured another 2-1 final. The game started of brightly for both teams with the Blues having the upper hand. Eventually things settled and the Golden Bears got their first shot on target from Milan Timotijevic. He got the ball on a nice pass from Andrew Hood and made no mistake putting the ball past goalkeeper John Smits into the top corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Both Smits and fellow goalkeeper Jay Vetsch were spectacular in the goal making strong saves including Smits' sliding save on breakaway by Hood just before halftime.

The second half was more of the same with chances falling to Hood and Marcus Johnstone of Alberta and a glorious opportunity being just missed by Toronto's top scorer Mario Kovacevic after a clever back-heel to get around the defense. The game's second goal was scored in the 73rd minute the game official pointed at the Toronto penalty spot, giving Timotijevic an opportunity to score a penalty to open the game up to 2-0. Ten minutes later Alberta got another penalty chance but Smits came up big and stopped the shot to keep Toronto in the game. Kovacevic scored a consolation goal for Toronto in the 90th minute, but they were unable to get any closer and Alberta hung on for the win and an opportunity to face Saint Mary's in the first semi-final.

The third semi-final, amazingly, featured another 2-1 final. This time it was between the McMaster Marauders and Cape Breton Capers. Cape Breton was the better team for much of the opening half of the game outshooting McMaster 11 to 8. The Marauders did not look like they started the game comfortably and looked a bit lost for much of the first half. They came out in the second half much more strongly and organized and scored three minutes in on a goal from defender Anthony Costa as his shot curled past the reach of goalkeeper Andrew Murphy to give McMaster the 1-0 lead.

Cape Breton responded well and dominated possession for the rest of the half, outshooting McMaster by an astounding 16-3. Goalkeeper Matthew Grant was about the only thing keeping the Capers from running away with the game as he made fantastic stops on the Capers' top scorers Ian Greedy and Keishen Bean. With their pressure and constant chances Cape Breton was bound to score, and Bean got the tying goal in the 76th minute when he was able to put the ball past Grant from in-close into the bottom corner of the net.

The game went into extra time and the Capers continued their domination outshooting McMaster 12-5 (for a total of 39-16 over the entire game)! The first half ended with the score 1-1 and just after both teams had made a couple of substitutions to prepare for kicks from the mark, Greedy fired the ball into the right side of the goal from a corner put in by Jason Massie to put the Capers ahead 2-1 with less than ninety seconds remaining. McMaster did not give up and had one good chance to tie it but were unable to make it count and the game finished 2-1 in favour of the Capers.

The final matchup of the day featured the Montreal Carabins facing the Victoria Vikes and their 2100 fans. Yes. 2100. The average of the three earlier games was closer to the 200 range, but the final game of the day was a madhouse. Montreal silenced the crowd early with a goal from Colin Parenteau-Michon on a long free kick in the 9th minute to give Montreal the early lead, one they hung onto for most of the first half until Gavin Barrett tie the game up on a header from an Andrew Ravenhill corner kick in the 42nd minute.

The game went into half-time with the 1-1 scoreline and the regulation ninety ended the same way. Victoria had the majority of chances in the second half, outshooting Montreal 18-9, but Montreal's goalkeeper Nizar Houhou played very well and kept the scoreline even.

Montreal was the better team in extra time, dominating possession, and controlling the run of play. They looked to have won the game when fullback Vincent de Bruille scored in the 111th minute putting a hard shot past Vikes goalkeeper Elliot Mitrou to give Montreal the 2-1 lead. Less than three minutes later, an almost carbon copy of the Vikes' first goal happened when Barrett nodded Miguel Romeo's corner kick past Houhou to tie the game 2-2. The game was off to kicks from the mark.

Victoria's goals were scored by Craig Taylor, Peter Richmond, and Gavin and Wesley Barrett. Montreal had goals from Maxime Laurey and Parenteau-Michon. Mitrou made a save on Sylvain Willot's shot, the second Montreal shooter, as he put the ball down the middle and Mitrou got both hands on it. Romeo hit the post for Victoria, bringing Montreal back into the shots, but de Bruille missed the goal immediately after, setting the stage for Wesley Barrett's winner, giving Victoria the 2-2 (4-2) win in penalties.

The semi-final matchups go Friday with Saint Mary's facing Alberta at 19:30ET and Cape Breton meeting Victoria at 22:00ET. Before that the consolation semi-finals go at 14:00ET between McGill and Toronto and 16:30ET between McMaster and Montreal. The fifth place game is at 17:30ET on Saturday and the Bronze and Championship games go Sunday at 14:30ET and 17:00ET respectively.

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