UQAM are heading back to the CIS men’s soccer semifinals after a 3-2 defeat of the UBC Thunderbirds, avenging their bronze medal loss to UBC last year. They now await the winner of the last quarterfinal matchup between number one seed and host, Guelph Gryphons and the Acadia Axemen.

The hero for UQAM was Simon-Pierre Kougnima (Lougueuil, Que.), who pounced on an uncharacteristically bad back pass by first-team All-Canadian Bryan Fong (Vancouver) that came up short to goalkeeper Chad Bush (Ottawa).  Kougnima beat Bush to the ball, pushed it passed him and fired it in the wide open net for a 3-2 lead in the 103rd minute, and the eventual game-winner.

A former defensive midfielder, Kougnima, knew what he was looking for.

“I always look for mistakes, I try to expect what they might do and in this case it worked out well.”  Despite this being a rematch of the semifinals last year, Kougnima and the Citadins weren’t looking at this game as revenge. “Our squad this year is different since a lot of players are gone from the team. Plus we just wanted to forget that game.”

UBC looked like they may dominate the game from the opening whistle, as Kerman Pannu (Surrey, B.C.), hammered home a low line drive past a frozen Valentin Lamoulie, in only the third minute.  The first-team All-Canadian goalkeeper had no chance on the play.  UQAM started to find their legs halfway through the opening 45 and were rewarded by drawing a penalty kick in the 22nd minute.  Fifth-year senior James Louis-Jeune (Saint-Leonard, Que.) took the penalty and hammered the ball right down the middle, waiting just long enough for Bush to dive to his left.

UQAM took a 2-1 lead in the 38th minute off a free kick taken beautifully by Louis-Jeune, which found the boot of Bivuala Daivy Makunza (Montmorency, FRA) and deflected in off the far post, much to the surprise of Bush. The back and forth continued with rookie forward Zach Verhoven (Surrey, B.C.) firing a laser into the back of the net in the 41st minute for UBC, evening up the score at two.

After a wide open first half, both teams failed to score in the second half, but not for a lack of opportunities.  Both sides kept up the high tempo throughout, which made it an exciting game to watch from start to finish.  UQAM will look back and regret not scoring in a sequence in the 60th minute in which Kougnima hit the cross bar from just a few yards away, and then the rebound was cleared off the line by sprawling UBC defender, Verhoven.  UQAM kept up most of the pressure late into second half, hitting a post and a crossbar off a corner kick in the 90th minute.

The Citadins will now advance to Saturday’s semifinal against the winner of Guelph and Acadia’s quarterfinal coming up next, while the Thunderbirds will play the day’s last quarterfinal game.

UBC 2-0-0-0
UQAM: 2-0-1-0

First Half
1. UBC Kerman Pannu (1), 2:05
2. UQAM James Louis-Jeune (1), 22
3. UQAM Bivuala Daivy Makunz (1), 38:45
4. UBC Zach Verhoven (1), 41:16

Second Half
(No scoring)

Extra Time (2×15 mins)
5. UQAM Simon-Pierre Kougnima (103:43)

UQAM: Valentin Lamoulie (W 2 GA, 3 save, 120:00, 1-0)
UBC: Chad Bush (L 3 GA, 2 save, 120:00, 0-1)

Team Stats
Shots: UQAM 13, UBC 9
Shots on net: UQAM 5, UBC 5
Corners: UQAM 7, UBC 3
Offsides: UQAM 2, UBC 3
Fouls: UQAM 0, UBC 0
Yellow cards: Simon-Pierre Kougnima (UQAM), Andre Bona (UQAM), Manraj Bains (UBC), Valentin Lamoulie (UQAM)
Red cards: None

Players of the game:
UQAM: Simon-Pierre Kougnima
UBC: Zach Verhoven