MONTREAL — It was happy haunting for UQAM and a disappointing Halloween night for the McGill men’s soccer team as the host Citadins blanked the Redmen 2-0 in a sudden-death semifinal game at Stade Saputo, Friday.
UQAM will host third-seeded Montreal in the RSEQ final on Nov. 2. The Carabins upset No.2-seeded Laval in Quebec City. The conference champs will advance to the CIS national tournament in Charlottetown, P.E.I., Nov. 9-12.
Winning goaltender Nizar Houhou earned a five-save shutout while teammates Simon-Pierre Cote-Kougnima and Mohamed Saidi each tallied first-half goals for UQAM. The two-goal deficit put the Redmen in a hole too deep to climb out of, despite a flurry of chances and an improved effort in the second half.
“They are a very strong side,” said Redmen head coach Marc Mounicot of the upstart Citadins, who finished atop the RSEQ conference standings for the first time in school history, posting a 9-1-2 record. “UQAM deserved their win, they are a well-organized team and have not lost a game since early September. They will be contenders at CIS championship next week for sure. They play with maturity and poise.”
Redmen goalie Max LeBlond, a native of Lille, France, turned away four of six shots in a losing cause as was selected as McGill’s player of the game. UQAM’s Mathieu Yala eaned similar honours for his side.
The game featured five yellow cards and one red, with McGill’s Patrick Fusarini being ejected after receiving two cautions. Teammates Alexander King and Alexander Lamont also collected warning cards from the referee. UQAM’s only card was a yellow issued to Yanis Hammiche.
“We had a game plan but again, and it was the case too many times this season, we gave up two easy goals,” said Mounicot. “Our second half was much better, playing with some urgency and more spirit but they showed us what defending is all about and we could not solve their defensive scheme. We lacked quality plays and failed to get good movement off the ball in their defensive end.
“It is hard to play catch up against a team so confident and dangerous all over the park. But we tried hard, right until the end, even with a man down. It is a disappointing finish for our graduating seniors but this was a learning experience for our younger players and hopefully they will come back better prepared next season. This is the second-year of a challenging rebuilding process. We will need a little more consistency and a lot of hard work to get back to be a winning program.”
The Redmen finished with a 7-7-1 record overall, including a 5-6-1 fourth-place finish in the seven-team RSEQ conference. They are expected to lose four seniors, including defender James Allester, a fifth-year history major from Vancouver, B.C., who played 43 regular season games over five years while wearing jersey No.3 for the Redmen.
Munro, a fifth-year software engineering student, played 53 games in five seasons. Di Ioia, who transferred to McGill from the pro ranks last year, tallied nine markers and 12 points in 19 contests. King, a fifth-year international development studies major, scored 13 goals and added seven assists in 39 career regular season matchs, including a team-leading eight markers in 12 games this season.
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