CMU Closes Out the MCAC Season with a Final Championships Appearance
The MCAC wrapped up its final Championship weekend on Sunday with the Copa de la Paz Futsal trophies awarded at host Universite de Saint-Boniface after a full day of semi-finals and finals action. Blazers men's futsal contended for the cup and a chance to defend their 2020 title, but fell short in the final, relinquishing the championship to the Brandon Bobcats.
The day started very early for the women's semi-finalists, with the CMU side sliding into the third spot in seeding after Saturday's final regular season matchups determined the final standings going into a hectic Sunday Championship round. They matched up against the second-seeded Providence Pilots, a team they had scrimmaged only days earlier as a warmup for the event. A slow start for the Blazers who found themselves down 0-2 early, gave rise to a quick comeback, and the team managed to level the score at 2-2 still in the first half of play. Both sides traded goals once more to send the teams into the second half knotted at 3 goals apiece. Though CMU's side continued to push hard, a few unlucky bounces left the higher seeded Pilots flying high at the end of regulation as they took the 5-3 win, sending them onto the final. Rookies Kalyssa Wasylik and Ayesha Umar potted the goals for the green and gold, showing that the future is still bright for the young Blazers squad.
The hosts, and outdoor soccer champions St Boniface Rouges would go on to defeat the Pilots in the final to take the women's MCAC Championship title.
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CMU's men's side also entered their semi final matchup as the third seed, facing the hosts St Boniface Rouges, who held the same record as the Blazers, but also the decicive advantage in head-to-head matchup in their one previous meeting during regular season play. After trading goals early in the first half, CMU charged ahead to take a 4-2 lead at the half. The home side responded out of the break, leveling the game at 4-4 at the halfway mark of the second period, and then took their first lead of the game, leaving the Blazers searching for answers. The green and gold found an answer as they were able to tie up the score at 5-apiece forcing two five-minute overtime periods to determine who would head on to the finals. Blazers captain Daniel McIntyre-Ridd found his way behind Les Rouge's defenders to tap in the go-ahead goal midway through the first overtime period, and after some tense times and huge stops by CMU's goalkeeper Zach Bartel the Blazers punched their ticket to the final game, once again showing they had the magic to create a semi final upset, which they did earlier in the outdoor season over the higher ranked Providence Pilots. Matheus Moreno earned a hat-trick and player of the game honours in the win, while Daniel McIntyre-Ridd tallied two, and Victor Hugo Gomes de Abreu added one goal of his own.
In a rubber of the previous two MCAC Futsal Championships, the Blazers found themselves once again pitted against the Brandon Bobcats in Sunday's final. The Bobcats had gotten the better of the Blazers back in October when they defeated CMU in the soccer final, earning themselves a trip to CCAA Nationals; however, CMU took the win in their lone meeting during the hardcourt season, leaving the advantage very unclear. A hot start for the green and gold had the men buzzing with a 2-0 lead, but that only seemed to awaken the Bobcats, who responded to keep pace, eventually leveling the game at 3-3 with plenty of time left in the first half. It was a turning point for the Blazers as they started to lose steam against a Brandon side that were able to hit the mark on several long-distance chances to close out the first period, which had them leading 6-4 going into the break. A change in tactics in an attempt to close the gap only left the Blazers defenders more vulnerable to the formidable Bobcats attack. By the midpoint of the final frame, Brandon had worked up a four goal cushion that they never relinquished, taking the final 11-5 over an exhausted Blazers side. Graduating standouts Daniel McIntyre-Ridd and William Anderson tallied all five of CMU's goals in the match, with McIntyre-Ridd potting an exceptional four goals in his final game as a Blazer.
The offseason officially begins now for the Blazers with all provincial league play and championships wrapped up. It was a successful year on all accounts; a season that saw six of eight Blazers teams advance to the MCAC Championship Finals, with two title wins coming from those appearances. The lone team still training is men's volleyball, who will head East to Quebec City for next week's CCAA Men's Volleyball National Championships to represent Manitoba as CMU's first ever nationals-bound team.