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Undefeated and Undisputed: The 2014 MCAC Soccer Champions are Crowned


While one celebrated a three-peat, the other celebrated the long road of an undefeated season, as the Providence University College Pilots women’s team, and the Université de Saint-Boniface Les Rouges men are the 2014 MCAC Champions.

For Providence, this was their third straight title, and an especially sweet one in front of their home crowd. But for Saint-Boniface, the howling winds weren’t even close to muting their celebration, as not only can they call themselves “Undefeated”, but they can now call themselves “Champions”.

Neither team had an easy route to the title, as both games played very even throughout. In the women’s match, it was Red River College who dictated the play early on, including a beautiful chance by Melony Dittbrenner who was met by an equally impressive stop from goalkeeper Kate Osadchuk.

Osadchuk continued to keep the score even, with a couple more key saves in the first half, until Providence finally started picking up some momentum and keeping the play on the Rebels half. The pressure resulted in a free-kick for Player of the Game Jessica Gzebb, who curved it around a wall defenders and into the short side of the net to give her team the lead going into the second half.

As the wind picked up, chances were hard to come by, as the second half became a hard-fought defensive affair. In the second, Providence proved to be too much to take on in the midfield, and regardless of what they threw at the Pilots, the Rebels simply couldn’t get into the dangerous areas for big scoring chances.

Eventually, the whistle blew, and Providence was once again able to celebrate as MCAC Champions. For the Pilots, Jessica Caul had yet another strong performance, using her speed and hustle to create plays on a day where offense was hard to come by. Her strong play earned her the MCAC Final Four Tournament MVP.



In the men’s match, it wasn’t until late in the second half where it was really clear who would take home the victory. Saint-Boniface came out strong, with a couple of big chances in the first five minutes. Until half way through the second half, it didn’t look like anything was getting past goalkeeper Arunjeet Johal, who was really the story of the first half, turning aside some very difficult chances from a strong Les Rouges offense.

Despite early pressure from their opponents, the Rebels fought back with chances of their own which, unfortunately, were met with various parts of the goalposts. However, it was the Rebels who ended up starting the scoring, with a textbook header from Player of the Game Derek Tessier.

The second half began similar to the first, with both teams trading blows. However, as the game wore on, Saint-Boniface continued pursuing, finally resulting in Elmahdi Khattabi notching his first of two goals to tie the game up. After Khattabi delivered a perfectly placed header to go up 2-1, it was Player of the Game Seifeddine Dahaoui who iced the game with an incredible strike into the top corner.

Leading the charge all tournament long was the dynamic offense of MCAC MVP Marouane Imaghri, who also earned the title of Final Four MVP at the end of the match.

The Saint-Boniface celebration was as energetic as their play on the field, and as they lifted the trophy it officially brought an end to the MCAC soccer season. Congratulations to our Champions, and all who competed this season to help make it one of the most competitive the conference has ever had.

MCAC Soccer Semi-Final Recap


It wasn’t until the sun hit the horizon, but after a full day of soccer, tomorrow’s MCAC Championship matches are officially set in stone. Tomorrow at Providence University College it will be the Providence Pilots taking on the Red River Rebels in the women’s final, and the undefeated Saint-Boniface Les Rouges taking on the Rebel’s on the men’s side.

With daylight running thin in the second men’s semifinal, there was a familiar feeling in the air as the first three matches set up an exact repeat of last year’s finals. But all of that changed when Diego Santos found the back of the net in overtime, punching in Red River College’s ticket into the finals, and assuring that there’d at least be one new champion this season in the MCAC.

In that game, the Pilots put up a fight in what was an incredibly competitive matchup, which saw the game go into overtime after a scoreless draw in regulation. The Rebels poured on the offense all game long, but were unable to find an answer to some stellar goalkeeping by the Pilots Liam Hodges. Santos’s winner came on a loose ball that put Providence’s dreams of a three-peat to rest, and adding to a promising season for this Rebels team.

It wasn’t all bad news for the Final Four hosts, as the Providence women’s team dominated the
fourth-seeded CMU Blazers 6-0 in their semi-final, led by an exceptional two-goal performance by both the MCAC Most Valuable Player, Julika Kehler, and the Player of the Game, Jessica Caul. With the win, the Pilots will have a shot at a three-peat as champions in the MCAC.

They will however, have to get past Red River College, who defeated the Brandon Bobcats 2-1 in the first matchup of the day. Brandon played some great lockdown defense, especially in the second half, however their lone goal in the 65th minute was not enough to extend time after a couple of beautiful goals by the Rebels, including a textbook top corner strike by Nadine Reimer.

The first men’s match of the day saw Saint-Boniface defeating CMU 4-1, in a game where the score, after consecutive late goals by USB, didn’t tell the full story of what was a highly competitive match. The game was full of midfield battles, but for Saint-Boniface, they received contribution from a familiar source, as MCAC scoring leader, and Most Valuable Player Marouane Imaghri notched two goals in the match.

It was an action-packed first day of the Final Fours, and it should only get better tomorrow as Red River looks to make it an all-Rebel celebration, Saint-Boniface tries to stay undefeated, and Providence looks for the three-peat. The stakes are higher than ever, which means so is the competition level. We hope to see you at Providence University College tomorrow afternoon for what will be the exciting conclusion of the 2014 MCAC soccer season.

Below is tomorrow’s MCAC Championship Schedule:

Women’s Championship
1:00 pm @ Providence University College
(1) Providence University College vs (2) Red River College

Men’s Championship
3:00 pm @ Providence University College
(1) Université de Saint-Boniface vs (3) Red River College

MCAC Announce All-Conference Team and Most Valuable Players

As todays Final Fours got underway, the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC) revealed its All-Conference Teams and Most Valuable Players in both men’s and women’s soccer to fans, players, and coaches at Providence University College.

The selections were based on votes by the member schools’ coaches and are listed below:

Men’s Soccer

Most Valuable Player – Marouane Imaghri, Université de Saint-Boniface
Mitchell Martens – Providence University College
Seifeddine Dhaoui - Université de Saint-Boniface
Jonathan Janke – Providence University College
Vasilios Giannopoulos – Brandon University
Jonah Langelotz – Canadian Mennonite University
Andrew Letkeman – Canadian Mennonite University
Robert Neumann – Assiniboine Community College
Cole Johnson – Canadian Mennonite University
Anderson Perreira – Red River College
Dale Danso – Providence University College
Harouna Gueye – Université de Saint-Boniface

Women’s Soccer

Most Valuable Player - Julika Kehler, Providence University College
Bailee Ploshynsky – Brandon University
Elizabeth Codville – Red River College
Lisa Haynes – Red River College
Robyn Coffey – Providence University College
Jessica Gzebb – Providence University College
Morgan Butler – Red River College
Jade Barrault – Brandon University
Megan-Rae Castro – Red River College
Kyra Neufeld – Canadian Mennonite University
Cindy Lou Nepinak – Brandon University

MCAC Socer Final Fours Preview

It has been the most competitive season of soccer the MCAC has seen in a long time, and after a full schedule of upsets, draws, dominance, and a seemingly never-ending standings swap, we are one step closer to crowning a champion.
Hosted by Providence University College in Otterburne, Manitoba, the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference Soccer Final Fours will be taking place this weekend, Saturday, October 25, and Sunday, October 26, in what is shaping up to be one of the premiere soccer tournaments in the Province this year.
In one of the many subplots in this single elimination playoff, you could say it’s a picture perfect scenario for the two-time defending champion Providence Pilots to make it a three peat on their home pitch. Both teams (men and women) have been playing their best soccer as of late, and they will be riding a home crowd who has proven to be one of the loudest in the league. But with this season being one of the most evenly matched in years, all bets are off as every team remaining can win on any given day.
Although the Pilots women's team will go into the semi-finals as the top seed, the likes of Red River College, and the newcomers out of Brandon University have played them tough all year long, and have played a large part in the parity of the conference this season. Those two contenders face off in the first semi-final of the day, while the home-team Pilots will face their rivals out of CMU, who will have all of the motivation in the world to knock off the defending champs on their own soil.
For the men, Université de Saint-Boniface have emerged as the top-dogs in the conference, finishing with an undefeated record in this ten game season. Their first match will be against CMU, who are fresh off their impressive 5-0 victory against Red River in a game that solidified their spot in the Final Fours. They’ll be looking to carry that momentum against a Les Rouges team who has yet to really stumble at all this season.
The men’s host team takes on Red River College, who stunned them at home to start the Pilots season earlier this fall. A repeat performance would put them into the Finals, and they’ll be trying to do just that in front of what should be a packed crowd in Otterburne.
Below is the schedule for the Soccer Final 4’s. Single-day passes are $5.00 and can be purchased upon entry, and member school students with valid student ID get in for free.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Women's Semi-final #1: BU vs RRC - 9:00 am
Men's Semi-final #1: CMU vs USB - 11:00 am
Women's Semi-final #2: CMU vs PUC - 1:30 pm
Men's Semi-final #2: RRC vs PUC - 3:30 pm
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Women's Championship: 1:00 pm
Men's Championship: 3:00 pm

Holly Kalynuik named Week 6 Athlete of the Week

When a team enters its first year of competition, you expect the adjustment to take a while to even out before you can make a real assessment of your team’s identity. Just six weeks into their inaugural season in the MCAC and one thing is for sure – the Bobcats are for real.
 
After seven games, Brandon’s bread and butter has been defence, as they’ve only allowed six goals against all season. Anchoring that defence has been Holly Kalynuik, and in a whirlwind first season, her composure has been a major constant for the first-year Bobcats.
 
“Holly has a calm, dependable, reassuring presence in the back, and is exactly the kind of player you want in front of your goalie,” says head coach Rainer Schira. “She played both inside and centre-defence with equal skill, she played 180 minutes this weekend, and has played every minute of every game this season.”
 
After already recording four shutouts this season, Kalynuik and the rest of her defensive squad is something everyone in the MCAC should be worried about. Regardless of their seed, nobody will be taking the Bobcats lightly, and if Kalynuik and her teammates are up for the challenge as they have been all season, look for Brandon to really make some noise in the Final Fours two weekends from now.
 
Kalynuik is in her third year studying English at Brandon University.

Vasilios Giannopoulos named Week 6 Athlete of the Week

Before Week 6 began, things weren’t looking good for the first-year Brandon Bobcats. They were nine points out of a playoff spot, and were up against two teams who both had already beaten them earlier in the season. It was a long shot, but mathematically they were still alive. And now here we are – after an incredible effort going 2-0 against CMU and Red River last weekend, the Bobcats are potentially one win away from doing what looked to be impossible: earning a spot in the MCAC Final Fours.
 
Although the team as a whole deserves a lot of credit, they certainly couldn’t have done it without Vasilios Giannopoulos. The dynamic 6’1” forward has been on a scoring tear as of late, which has put him tied for the league-lead with seven goals on the season. Two of those goals were against CMU last weekend, helping his team pick up the most important victory of the year, putting them within striking distance of a Final Four Spot.
 
As a late addition to the team, Giannopoulos has been critical for his team’s final push of the season, and his impact certainly isn’t lost on head coach Terry McGonigle.
 
“Vasilios is a major impact player that generates pressure on the opposition the moment he steps on the field,” says coach Terry McGonigle. “His stats speak volumes to the type of player he is. He’s our leading goal scorer, despite being a late addition to our team and missing time due to injury. Best of all, the threat he provides on offence helps our defense and mid-fielders create more scoring opportunities.”
 
Giannopoulos and his Bobcats squad are in a literal must-win next week as they take on Assiniboine Community College in an all-Brandon matchup. The Bobcats will hope to recreate their 6-1 victory against ACC earlier in the year – a matchup where Giannopoulos scored five goals. If they’re able to take that win, they’ll still have to hope for a CMU loss, as the Blazers will control their own destiny in Week 7. One thing’s for sure: it’s definitely going to be an exciting week in the MCAC.

Jessica Caul named Week 4/5 Athlete of the Week

When you win two straight championships, there’s always going to be a lot of pressure to go back and make it three. This is the case for the Providence Pilots this season. After suffering their first MCAC loss since 2012 in Week 3, Providence needed a spark - and that’s exactly what they got from second-year forward Jessica Caul.

Despite scoring in their big victory against CMU, and assisting on the game-winning goal against Brandon, it has been Caul’s intelligence and movement away from the ball which had head coach Dante Calla using the word “outstanding” to describe Caul’s play in these last two weeks.

According to Calla, Caul has always been a talented and dedicated player, but after meeting with her coach two weeks ago to find ways to really ignite her play, Caul responded in a big way.

“She responded like a champion,” says Calla. “Her attitude and willingness to work on every aspect of her game, and her focus on making sure she gets better each practice has been impressive to watch. This is the best she has played in 2 years.”

The Pilots will have a tough few weeks ahead of them, as the competition for the MCAC title is greater than it’s been in years. If they want to achieve their goals, it may take more efforts like Caul’s to make this MCAC season another successful one.