November 6, 2012, OTTAWA (CIS) – With the UVic Vikes elimination from the first round of the Canada West playoffs, new national champions will be crowned this week when the best teams in the country gather in Quebec City for the 43rd CIS men’s soccer championship.
The single-elimination tournament gets underway Thursday at TELUS-Université Laval Stadium and culminates on Sunday with the gold-medal final at 2 p.m. All 11 games from the competition will be webcast live on CIS-SIC.tv.
The CIS individual awards and all-Canadians will be announced on Wednesday night.
The teams hoping to claim the Sam Davidson Memorial Trophy are the tourney host Laval Rouge et Or (RSEQ finalists), as well as the UQTR Patriotes (RSEQ champions), Cape Breton Capers (AUS champs), UNB Varsity Reds (AUS finalists), McMaster Marauders (OUA champs), Carleton Ravens (OUA finalists), UBC Thunderbirds (Canada West champs) and Alberta Golden Bears (Canada West finalists).
Thursday’s quarter-finals include Cape Breton vs. Carleton at 11 a.m., UQTR vs. Alberta at 1:30 p.m., UBC vs. UNB at 4 p.m., and McMaster vs. Laval at 6:30 p.m.
UBC has won a record 11 national titles over the years but hasn’t hoisted the Davidson Trophy since 2007. Alberta (4), Laval (1) and UNB (1) have also triumphed in the past.
One team that won’t be competing for the coveted trophy this week is the Victoria Vikes, who last year captured the CIS banner on home turf. The Vikes were eliminated in the first round of the Canada West conference playoffs.
Laval head coach Samir Ghrib would love nothing more than to see his troops replicate UVic’s feat and become the 13th squad in history – and the fourth in seven years – to win it all at home.
“To play the championship at home, in front of family and friends, is truly a privilege, especially since you never know when, or if, your turn will come again,” said Ghrib, who has been at the helm of the Rouge et Or since the rebirth of the program in 2000 and has since led his club to a pair of appearances in the national final, including its lone CIS title in 2009. “We know it’s going to be a magical week because so many people worked hard to put together this event. We’ll do everything we can to make it even more special come Sunday.”
The Rouge et Or were stellar in conference play and finished first in the RSEQ standings thanks to a 9-0-3 mark. They were one of only three teams across the country to remain undefeated throughout the regular season, along with UBC (11-0-3) and York (14-0-2). However, Laval was upset 2-1 in penalty kicks by UQTR in the Quebec final played at TELUS-UL Stadium.
That loss put the tournament hosts on the same side of the draw as conference champions UBC and McMaster, as well as UNB, which claimed the regular season title in the AUS.
The Thunderbirds, who edged Alberta 2-1 in the Canada West title match, are by far the most decorated program in the history of CIS men’s soccer. UBC has won a record 11 Davidson Trophies, seven more than any other school, and shows an astonishing all-time mark of 35-5-1 (.866) at the CIS championship, including 15 appearances in the gold-medal game.
“I’ve been saying it for years, I think Canada West does a great job of preparing teams to compete at national championships simply because of the level of competition we face every week,” said head coach Mike Mosher, whose T-Birds were the highest-scoring team in CIS in conference play with 45 goals in 14 contests. “What we’ve faced at our conference championship, and all season really, is as high of a level you’re going to find anywhere in Canada, so I like where we’re at from a preparation standpoint. We go out to Laval with the same expectation we have for every game and every championship, and that is that we want to win it.”
“I’m really proud of our group and what we have done so far. To go undefeated through a tough Canada West conference is a real accomplishment. The core of this group has had some defeats in the last two years, including a loss in the 2010 CIS final and a 90th minute loss in last year’s Canada West final so they are a motivated and determined group looking to try and win the big prize of a CIS championship.”
The Marauders finished second behind York in the OUA West division (12-1-3) and then went on an offensive tear in the playoffs with 12 goals in three games, including a stunning 5-0 domination of Carleton in the Ontario final. McMaster placed sixth at last year’s CIS tournament.
“Once you get to this point in the season there are no easy games,” said Mac sideline boss Dino Perri. “We know that we will have to be at our very best for every game in order to be victorious, but we are looking forward to the challenge.”
UNB returns to the show for the first time since a seventh-place finish in 2006. The V-Reds took first place by a single point over Saint Mary’s in league play – ending the schedule with eight straight shutout wins – but then fell 2-0 to Cape Breton in the AUS championship match.
On the other side of the draw, Alberta is the only team that has claimed the Davidson Trophy in the past. UQTR, Cape Breton and Carleton are all looking for their first triumph.
The Golden Bears, who barely missed out on a second straight Canada West title, losing to UBC in OT, return to the national tournament for the third year in a row but are looking for their first CIS medal since they last captured gold in 2006. Since then, Alberta has placed seventh in 2010 and fourth last fall.
The upstart Patriotes surprised quite a few experts this season, first by taking second place in the RSEQ in league play with a 7-2-3 record, and then by winning their first conference title since 2001, and only the third in program history. UQTR will be looking for its first-ever CIS championship victory this week after going 0-2 in 2001 and 0-1-1 in 1995.
The Capers had never competed at the CIS tournament before 2007 but have now become regulars at the event and will compete for the Davidson Trophy for the fourth time in six seasons. Cape Breton had its best-ever result on the national stage a year ago with a bronze-medal finish.
The Ravens are returning to the nationals for the first time since 2008. Carleton’s defensive breakdown against McMaster in the OUA final was very uncharacteristic for a team that had allowed less than one goal per game in the regular season (13 in 14 games) and had blanked the top-ranked team in the country, York, for 120 minutes in the OUA semis en route to a 1-0 upset win on the Lions’ field.