The season was a difficult one for both McGill soccer teams, who were looking to continue their surprising outdoor soccer playoff success in Marie-Victorin centre. Both teams were eliminated in the first round of their respective RSEQ playoff series in tightly fought one-goal games, leaving much to look forward to next season.
The playoffs began with a face-off between the sixth-seeded Redmen (1-5-0) and the third-seeded Montreal Carabins (3-2-1) in the RSEQ indoor soccer quarterfinals. The two historic rivals met only once during the regular season, a 0-3 loss that displayed the inexperience of the McGill team which had just welcomed a group of new recruits to complement the returning players.
Unfortunately, the team got off to an extremely poor start. Only 12 seconds in, the Redmen were victims of a few unlucky bounces which led to a quick goal by the Carabins. Stunned by the quick deficit, the McGill squad took a few minutes to get back into the game and prevent Montreal from controlling the rhythm of the game, something they have excelled at all season.
Despite strong pressure, the Carabins took advantage of a technical mistake committed by McGill in the final minute of the first half to extend their lead to 2-0.
“Despite the goal we allowed in the first and last minute of the half, we clearly were the team in control of the game,” new Head Coach Jose-Luis Valdes said.
The second half began with the momentum on Montreal’s side, but McGill found their way back into the game at the 60th minute when fourth-year Jeremy Hurdle found the back of the net on a 28-yard free-kick. The joy was short lived, however, as the Carabins struck again at the 72nd minute, extending their lead to two again. But the Redmen didn’t give up, and Hurdle scored again in the 87th minute to cut the lead to one. Hurdle’s goal was too little, too late; the game ended three minutes later, handing McGill their third consecutive loss of the season.
“We are a young team; most have not played together in the fall during competition, and have not had the chance to work together on a full-sized field yet. We still managed to maintain possession for the better part of the game while limiting our opponents’ chances,” Valdes explained.
“I feel for the boys, as they deserved a much better result today, but I am proud to see that they’ve been able to improve to finally play two good games these last couple of weeks against the highest-ranked team from the indoor [league] and highest-ranked team from the outdoor season.”
Unlike the Redmen, the Martlets came into the post-season with a strong 4-1-1 regular season record, finishing first in the RSEQ. Obtaining a bye to the semifinals, the team faced fourth-seeded Sherbrooke for a trip to the finals and a chance to compete for the RSEQ title.
The Martlets came into the game well rested and expecting to dominate a team who had played a hard-fought quarter-final game just the week before. Yet the Martlets never managed to contain Sherbrooke’s star player Sophie Normandin, who scored both goals for the Vert et Or and led her team to an upset 2-1 win over the top-seeded Martlets.
“Missing Rioux at the back made things more difficult because we had to move people around to compensate for her injury throughout game,” Head Coach Marc Mounicot explained. “It was especially tough having to deal with the speed of Normandin and Duquette, the two speedy forwards from Sherbrooke.”
The game started well as McGill’s Bianca Cordileone scored the first of the game off a nice header following a cross-field shot by Katherine Green, but the Vert et Or roared back to tie it at the end of the first half.
“We had a very solid start in the second half, dominating the play and missing chances and not being able to score the important goal,” Mounicot described. “We had many dangerous situations on shots or corner kicks but were not sharp in the finishing touch.”
“The team had a good run this winter, but this game leaves us with a bitter taste because we had the potential and skills to win the provincial championship. We got beaten on a counterattack again against the flow of play and after that Sherbrooke defended very well. With a bit of luck, we’d [have gotten] the win.”