OUA, Canada West, and RSEQ blurbs are below, but first, a little note for those who wonder about the skill level in CIS soccer:
Canada's senior women's national team will play Mexico tonight in the final of the CONCACAF women's Gold Cup (also Women's World Cup qualifying). On the team are two players who played in CIS last year: Desiree Scott (of University of Manitoba) and Josee Belanger (of Universite du Quebec a Sherbrooke). Both have started games in the competition and could see time tonight in the final.
The match can be watched online on the CBC at 8:50pm ET or on the local CBC at midnight.
Now onto CIS women's soccer play:
Queen's and UBC must have been fairly confident coming into their respective conference finals on the weekend against competent but weaker opposition in the UFV Cascades and Laurier Golden-Hawks, respectively.
Which is not to say Laurier and UFV are bad teams. Only that Queen's and UBC were favourites.
Either way, the favourites lost.
University of Fraser Valley took out UBC 2 - 0 in Edmonton. It was a victory that could be seen coming a ways off--UBC have had an up and down year and UFV are on the miracle run--but the Cascades are still a program that's only been around for five years and has been at best a playoff bubble team over those five years. This was UFV's first post-season run.
UBC, on the other hand, are loaded with CIS and FISU-experienced players.
The result is definitely a surprise: head coach Rob Giesbrecht has obviously done amazing things with this Cascades team.
UBC and UFV will both head to PEI, and it's always possible that deep down the Thunderbirds knew that coming into the final.
In the OUA, it should have been Queens' game, on paper, anyway.
The Gaels' line-up is loaded with offensive talent, especially, but the Golden-Hawk's back line held firm, giving them the 1 - 0 win.
Oddly, the result probably helps Queen's as much as UBC's result helps them: Queen's draw Cape Breton and the Thunderbirds get Laurier. While no one wants to play a hot team coming off a banner-winning weekend, both would probably rather not play each other in the quarterfinals. UBC and Queen's, due to the early exits of Trinity Western, Alberta, Toronto and maybe Dalhousie (I'm allowed a little home-town bias, right?) are now likely favourites to win nationals along with Montreal.
The Carabins have to be loving the weekend's results, as they're now the only "big" team coming into the tournament with a win and a banner, having beaten Sherbrooke 2 - 1 and Laval 2 - 0. They have the talent to win--they did last year, until they got what was coming to them by trying to play for penalties all tournament. If Montreal open up and use their skill, they could be one of the best teams to watch come Thursday.
Montreal also get possibly the easiest quarterfinal draw of the lot. UPEI looked downright awful all weekend in the AUS playoffs and should be an easy victim for the Carabins. The Panthers are a hard-working, gritty team. They're not fun to play against and might take a chuck out of Montreal, but it would be the shock of the year if they beat them.
CIS nationals this year will likely be just a tad less skillful than last year's tournament or even the 2008 event. The upsets mean that some of the memorable classic games between high-skilled opponents will disappear, at least until the later rounds. There should still be plenty of drama and plenty of entertaining games, though. There is still skill in the teams coming in, many have significant momentum, and there are also few real mismatches. Even UPEI could give Montreal a run if the Carabins don't play their best. There may be lots of close games, even controversial games. The question is how much skill there will be, and it's possible this tournament might suffer a bit in that department.
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