Meeting for their second Championship Final in as many years, Brandon University and Red River College both entered the 2016 Final on Sunday without recording a loss in Conference play this season. Both of their encounters in the regular season resulted in draws, so the best team in the MCAC would finally have to be decided.
By kickoff, the temperature was about ten degrees celsius with a strong south wind. Red River played the first half with it in their favour and it showed. If there was a difference in possession it was in favour of the Rebels who got the ball deep to the corners. They tested BU keeper Sydney Carter-Squire a few times while BU kept working against RRC’s defence and the wind. When RRC keeper Brittany Derkacz was made to play the ball, it resulted in her huge kick with extra distance. Most of the first half was loose balls and small runs in the neutral zone of the field.
Red River started the second half strong, nearly scoring on a third-try opportunity. RRC played very strong at the beginning of the half this weekend, getting out to early opportunities in both of their games. So it was shocking to see BU’s forward Jaycee Castle scored soon after, taking advantage of a waist-high ball that careened off her and in. The Bobcats were in the lead of a Final again. With the ball trading sides so often, it was difficult to tell if there would be enough energy for either team to mount another goal. But Nadine Reimer tied it when she scored for Red River and gave the Rebels life again.
Wasting no time, Brandon grabbed the ball and got it back to midfield. They kept possession off the kick and didn’t give it up until they scored less than two minutes after the Rebel’s goal, this time by rookie midfielder Kiera Riehl. After a quiet start the game was all of a sudden 2-1 in favour of the visiting Bobcats.
Third-year Julia Friesen had some great chances for Red River and Reimer continued to run the right side of the field and get close, but keeper Sydney Carter-Squire was fierce for the Bobcats. Several times she sacrificed her body and got the wrong end of a leg or elbow.
The Bobcats were granted a penalty kick with about 10 minutes left to play when Jaycee Castle was taken down in the box.
Aziza Kinnarath scored easily and after a season spent neck-and-neck, the best women’s team in the MCAC would win the Final by a score of 3-1.
Jaycee Castle was awarded Most Valuable Player of the tournament. When asked about her team’s return to the Final, she acknowledged the feeling of avenging last year’s disappointment.
“Last year still stings for us. That was our motivation to do better. We’ve tied with Red River all season so we wanted to win. We didn’t want to come to a draw, we didn’t want it to go to overtime or penalty kicks, we wanted to finish it.”
BU Head Coach Rainer Schira was impressed with the way his team showed up.
“They executed the plan that we had. They stayed calm and collected, they believed in themselves and in the team. We played like a team today and that’s exactly what we wanted.
“Our defense did its job, kept their long balls and running at bay. Our goalie (Carter-Squire) stepped in when she had to, our midfield distributed the ball well and our forwards struck when they had to. So we were really happy with all the team members…they executed the plan.”
This is the first MCAC title for Brandon University since joining the MCAC in 2015.