On Sept. 19 at Percival Molson Stadium, Martlet soccer (3–3–0) hosted the Université de Montréal (UdeM) Carabins (4–1–1). A goal in each half was enough to end a promising McGill two-game winning streak midway through the season.
This matchup, which has developed into a cross-city rivalry, saw yet another close match end in the Carabins’ favour. Coach Jose-Luis Valdes lamented the opportunity to defeat UdeM.
“I think we played quite well,” Valdes said. “We moved the ball around […] and combined for some good passes. Even though [UdeM] did not have control of the ball, they capitalized on the two [to] three chances we gave them and [scored] some good goals.”
McGill started strong, testing a struggling UdeM defence on the wings. Third-year forward Hannah Todd nearly put McGill on the scoresheet with a miss-hit cross five minutes into the game, but the Carabins’ keeper recovered well to deny the Martlets a goal. The visitors then settled in, forcing plays down the right wing. With 26 minutes gone, McGill nearly conceded the first goal of the match as a long-range shot from a Carabins midfielder bounced off the post. Eight minutes later, UdeM put a similar shot past second-year keeper Annabelle Matysiak to take the lead. The resolute Carabins held off the McGill resurgence, and the hosts ended the first half trailing by one goal.
“[Coach Valdes’s] instructions were to secure more balls,” third-year forward Ariane Ducharme said. “He advised us to […] switch flanks [and] make sure [we] unsettle them.”
The Martlets returned after the break with newfound energy, passing well in the final third as they searched for the equalizer. A defence-splitting through ball from first-year midfielder Sara Smyth in the 55th minute set up first-year forward Liliane Lefebvre with an opportunity in the box, but she was unable to convert. McGill’s offensive momentum was interrupted in the 69th minute when a defensive error left a Carabins forward with only the keeper to beat. Evrard reacted well, however, coming off her line to secure the ball. The Martlets responded two minutes later with a dazzling run by third-year forward Giovanna Tiberio, whose shot was just wide of the goal. Tiberio was back at it again in the 79th minute with an effort that narrowly hit the post. UdeM added a late goal off another defensive lapse in the McGill backline, putting the game beyond reach for the home side.
The Martlets remain winless against the Carabins in 15 straight games dating back to 2016. Despite the loss, Valdes remained optimistic.
“On the field […], we had three rookies and a couple of second-year players,” Valdes said. “[They have] matured well over the season […] and combined well in the second half.”
The team’s energy and spirit was on display as the Martlets fought hard to restore balance, putting up a strong defence against the fourth ranked team in Canada. The Martlets are undergoing a rebuild after the departure of several key starters last year, but remain optimistic about their playoff chances this season. They play the Sherbrooke Vert et Or (0–4–1) on Sept. 22, followed by a homecoming game against the UQAM Citadins (5–0–0) Sept. 27.
Moment of the game:
Third-year forward Giovanna Tiberio’s mesmerizing dribble from the half line, skipping past two UdeM defenders before launching a missile toward the far-post, could have flipped the game had the ball found the back of the net.
“Homecoming […] is always emotional, but we have to remain focused. Play the 90 [minutes] and celebrate after.” – Third-year forward Ariane Ducharme on the pressures of the upcoming homecoming game.
The Martlets registered four shots in the second half, putting significant pressure on the Carabins defence for 45 minutes.