With a handful of rookies, a first-year coaching staff, and a top-ranked, undefeated goliath in their way, the CMU Blazers men’s soccer team were still able to overcome the odds and take home the 2018 MCAC Men’s Soccer Championship.
The Blazers took the championship final over the Brandon Bobcats 1-0 at the Ralph Cantafio Soccer Complex on Sunday after defeating the second-ranked Pilots a day prior.
The Bobcats had one both regular season meetings with the Blazers, 3-2 and 4-1.
“It feels so good,” said first-year Blazers head coach Anderson Pereira. “So good.”
In past years, the Blazers had gotten used to getting bounced in the Final Four, losing to a Pereira led RRC Rebels team in 2016 and the Providence Pilots last season. Blazers defender and tournament MVP Daniel McIntyre-Ridd endured those tough losses, but believes it made their win this time around that much sweeter.
“In past seasons losing on penalty kicks and shootouts…that feels terrible,” said McIntyre-Ridd. “But to finally get here, it’s awesome.”
“Just straight up awesome,” McIntyre-Ridd finished.
The Bobcats deadly front-line of All-Conference selections including Diego Rodriguez, Alex Alvarado, conference leading scorer Kevin Lopez, and conference MVP Osian Edwards were the highest scoring team this season.
For the Blazers to hold the Bobcats to 0 through 90+ minutes of play is a testament to their goaltender Mackenzie Hildebrand and their stellar backline of McIntyre-Ridd and Robbie Friesen.
The championships only goal came in the 71st minute after Blazers All-Conference selection Ryan Jensen took a beautiful pass from fullback Kieran Baydock off his chest behind the Bobcat defenders, turned, and nailed one in off the opposite post.
“We really sorted it out this weekend,” said McIntyre-Ridd. “Strong defensively, strong attacking and we really played as a team.”
After going 2/2, the Blazers become the first school to win both the men’s and women’s MCAC soccer championships since Providence achieved the same feat in 2013.