Otterburne, MB – Andry Giesbrecht recorded a goal and an assist, keeper Brennen White earned the blank sheet, and the Providence Freemen took the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference Championship banner with a 2-nil victory over the #2 ranked Canadian Mennonite University Blazers.
The MCAC Championship featured a re-match of last year’s final that saw CMU fall to Providence 2-1 in a game that needed overtime to be solved. With a history and rivalry between the two teams – and a conference title on the line – the match up was expected to an extremely competitive and physically demanding duel, and the MCAC’s two best men’s soccer teams did not disappoint.
The Freemen took control of play right from the opening whistle as they mounted attack after attack on the Blazers’ defence. Providence created numerous first half scoring opportunities but remained unable to put the finishing touches on their efforts for most of the half as the Blazers kept their tight defensive strategy. However, in the 37th minute, after foiling a counter-attack from the Blazers, the Freemen moved the ball up the right wing and onto the foot of all-conference striker Mario Giesbrecht. Mario then showed everyone why an American college sports blogger (www.ccsnonline.com) referred to him as a ‘bulldog’ as he battled and accelerated past a CMU defender and fed a pass into the penalty area where his brother, and 2009 regular season MVP Andry, made no mistake in finishing.
Trailing by one, the Blazers brought in their long-throw specialist in an attempt to create problems for the Freemen defence. But the Freemen stepped up and remained ahead of the challenge. The half finished with Providence leading 1-0.
CMU came out stronger in the second half and started to control-play for the first part of the half. However, the pressure didn’t amount to any scoring opportunities as the Freemen defence prevented any shots getting to the net, and keeper Brennen White was sure to scoop up any through balls or crosses that came into the penalty area.
Providence head coach Martin Ward, seeing the change in pressure, brought in the always energetic freshman forward Brendan Wiens to create a spark for his squad. The move paid off almost immediately as Andry Giesbrecht cut across the middle, caught the attention of the CMU defenders, and then sent the ball down the right side as Wiens found it and put it behind the Blazer keeper Mike Rutherford. The game finished with both teams attacking aggressively, but the score ended at 2-0, giving the Providence Freemen their fourth consecutive Manitoba conference title.
Following the match, individual awards were handed out to the players of the game; Providence defender Kaiten Critchlow, and CMU’s all-conference selection Jeff Klassen. The tournament MVP was also awarded following the match as “The South American Sensation” Andry Giesbrecht earned the top individual honour. He amassed an impressive 4 goals and 2 assists in the two-game tournament.
Providence head coach Martin Ward left the game impressed with both the way his team played and with the way that Canadian Mennonite University stepped up their play in the championship game.
“I think it was good for us to have a good, hard game,” said Ward. “CMU always seems to raise their performance in the championship game, and they did again today. I thought everyone played well and contributed to the win.
Game Stats: Andry Giesbrecht 1G 1A, Brendan Wiens 1G, Mario Giesbrecht 1A
Shots: CMU – 4, PC – 18
Shots on Goal: CMU – 2, PC – 9
By Kaiten Critchlow