The loud and boisterous squad that was the 2015 Universite de Saint-Boniface Les Rouges didn’t disappoint in their final game against the Canadian Mennonite University Blazers.
No goals were allowed early on, despite both teams getting chances and it was very clear from the control and communication shown by the Blazers why they entered the final weekend as the 1-seed. Ben Klassen and Andrew Letkemen showed exceptional game management in the midfield and were regularly helping their defenders chase down USB forwards Seifeddine Dhaoui and Rheal Chartier.
Considering their flare for the dramatic, Les Rouges played a considerably tame first half and were able to stay focused on the game for the most part. At one point, several bodies kicked furiously in front of the USB net and the ball looked destined to go in. There appeared to have been a hand ball in the box but it went unnoticed by the referee and the Blazers disputed the no-call while trying to stay focused on the play. Amongst the confusion the ball advanced down the field and CMU scrambled to assemble its defence. Minutes after CMU thought they should be awarded the golden opportunity of a penalty kick, Dhaoui added salt to the wound by solving CMU keeper Thomas Friesen putting Les Rouges ahead by a goal.
Once the score was 1-0, the precision on both sides of the ball began to slip and players began to show the wear of a very fast-paced half. By the middle of the game, a simple 1-0 score was not indicative of the chances seen by both teams.
Going in to the second half, USB Head coach Justin Legare made an adjustment.
“We were trying to force the ball into our top forward, Seif (Dhaoui), from a far distance. We needed to get upfield more into their half and then play it in to him.”
This adjustment paid dividends soon when Dhaoui scored his second of the game from in close, sending Les Rouges bench into hysterics.
The end of the game became heated and players tried to keep their heads on while CMU made one last push. Several times play was stopped for a minute or longer as an aggressive slide or an inadvertent body check left someone on the ground. CMU played two extremely tough and physical games on the weekend but couldn’t solve a very intense USB keeper in Mahamadou Fofana. The score stayed 2-0 and Les Rouges’ bench poured onto the field at the final whistle.
Players of the game were Andrew Letkemen (CMU) and Mahamadou Fofana (USB).
Seifeddine Dhaoui was honoured with the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.