Men's Soccer 2017 MCAC Final Four Preview
It's another weekend of possibilities for Men's Soccer as they prepare to embark on the 2017 MCAC Men's Soccer Championship Semifinals on Saturday afternoon. The Blazers snuck into the the MCAC Final Four at the last possible moment, defeating the fifth place Red River Rebels 6-1 in their final regular season match to finish five points clear of the team that ended CMU's Championship hopes in 2016.
Despite being the only team to earn points against the 2017 top two finishers, Providence and USB, the Blazers also earned only a point in two ties with the two teams that finished outside the Final Four, Red River and ACC. In fact CMU set a new record in 2017, earning 6 draws in 10 regular season games, accounting for their lowest point total (12) since the conference grew to six teams in 2014. CMU tied every team at least once and drew twice in their two meetings with the Brandon Bobcats.
#4 CMU (2-6-2) versus #1 PROVIDENCE (8-1-1)
It would be hard to argue that the most improved program in MCAC Men's Soccer in 2017 is the Providence Pilots. Under second year head coach Joey Passi, the Pilots have flown to a near perfect regular season record and their 4-0 win over the previously undefeated USB Rouges on October 15th made a statement to the rest of the teams in the running for the 2017 MCAC banner, that Providence is a force to be reckoned with.
Leading the Pilots is sophomore central defender Braeden Owen who has done an admirable job helping his team concede the least number of goals (10), protecting rookie goalkeeper Evan Bedard. On the attack, Providence has also been the most lethal. Rookie snipers Juan Lafaurie and Jorge Vilchis will need to be closely watched by CMU if the Blazers hope to record an upset. The two have accounted for 19 of Providence's 34 goals and both tallied for the Pilots in their first meeting of the season with CMU, that saw Providence emerge with a 4-1 win.
Since that meeting on September 17th, the Blazers have only suffered one defeat. A now completely healthy lineup, the Blazers believe that even for the high-scoring Pilots, finding a way to get through the Blazer defense and then to score on CMU's emerging first-choice goalkeeeper Chris Giesbrecht, is becoming more and more of a challenge for opponents. Since finding a regular place in the starting 11, Giesbrecht has a record of 2 wins, to go with 4 ties and only one defeat and has proven that he is one of the best shot-stoppers in the conference.
ABOUT THEIR OPPONENTS
The Pilots have stuck with their three-man backline for the duration of the season, and why not? The Pilots have proven that with their modern formation, they can both score goals and make it difficult to be scored against. Converted striker Herby Magny has used his strength and power to help anchor his team as a left back and this move has allowed for a more diverse attack for the Pilots centered around clever dribblers in Vilchis, Romaine Francis and Giovanni Benitez and the consistent finishing of Lafaurie, Jonathan Fulford and Hunter Robertson. The Pilots of not a commercial airline; they are loaded with ammunition and CMU will need to pray the Pilots aren't firing on all cylinders when they meet on Saturday afternoon.
If CMU can find a way past the MCAC's top team, they will face one of two very different opponents. Two players have hurt CMU in previous matches with Les Rouges; fifth-year striker Yahia Chihab and third-year striker Derek Tessier. The two have accounted for all six goals that USB has scored on CMU. Les Rouges are talented and very possession-based. A third player, in highly-touted rookie Imani Bujiriri has been injured for both encounters between the two rivals, but has managed 8 goals in his first season in the conference.
The Brandon Bobcats and CMU Blazers have produced two exciting draws this season; 1-1 in Brandon and 0-0 in Winnipeg. The Bobcats score through the creative passing of Diego Rodriguez and Michael Knox and the blazing speed of right-winger Nolan Melanson. But their greatest attribute for the Bobcats is at the back. The combination of goalkeeper Dan Harrison and his Bobcat defensive group are argubly the strongest in the MCAC.
2017 MCAC Men's Semifinal action begins Saturday at 2:15PM, hosted by CMU at the Ralph Cantafio Soccer Complex. The Championship Final is scheduled for 3:15PM on Sunday afternoon on the John Scouras Field.