The victory of the Université de Montréal Carabins women’s soccer team at the 2022 Canadian championship represents a kind of deliverance for many of its members.
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Last Sunday, head coach Kevin McConnell’s squad beat the Université Laval Rouge et Or 1-0 to win the Gladys Bean trophy, a distinction awarded to Canadian champions.
“It’s a story that started last year, analyzed the pilot of the Blues. We had lost one game and only trailed 15 minutes – in overtime – that season. We were patient, but we had the desire to rectify what had happened.
In 2021, the Carabins players were incredibly dominant. No losses, one draw, 37 goals scored and five goals allowed in the regular season. However, the hope of winning everything ended in the Quebec final with a 1-0 loss in overtime against the Rouge et Or. By virtue of this setback, UdeM did not qualify for the national tournament.
“Last year, it was heartbreaking not to participate in the Canadian championship. We corrected the shooting. To have Gladys with us is incredible. There are no words to describe how happy we are to have won this championship,” said goalkeeper Catherine Langelier.
An achievement in net
The latter was also fantastic during the prestigious event. She had two shutouts in three games, but it was her feat in the semi-final shootout that will go down in history. The Saint-Eustache native stopped all three attempts by the Ottawa Gee-Gees.
“This year, we conceded several goals on penalty shots. I was not able to make the saves,” said Langelier.
“I had to be there for my team. Throughout the season, my teammates were able to bounce back at important moments. It was my turn to do my job and make the saves.”
In a hostile environment
The Carabins had an additional enemy on their way to the national championship: the crowd. The competition was held at TELUS-UL Stadium, the home of the Rouge et Or.
“We were the black beast,” said midfielder Santy Malanda. The crowd is part of the game. We didn’t take it into account and it didn’t change the way we play. There have been bad comments. We all know what a crowd can do during a game…”
“We were strong enough mentally to ignore that and show that we deserved to be champions despite everything that was said in the stands.”
Eventually, the Blues pulled off the biggest snub by taking the win against the crowd favourites.
“It makes winning a little sweeter considering we were playing in the stadium of our biggest rivals, in the rain and in front of a hostile crowd,” McConnell said with a smirk.
“We do not replace Mégane Sauvé”
Victory in the Canadian final marked the end of an era for the Université de Montréal Carabins women’s soccer team.
It was the last game of the Mégane Sauvé era. The star player had a fabulous five-year college career. She also concluded her career with the titles of players par excellence in Quebec and the national tournament.
In three games in Quebec, she amassed two goals and an assist. It was the midfielder who made the play that allowed Justine Lalande to score the winning net in the final.
“It’s a job that I did over five years to be able to be at my best in this type of moment,” said Sauvé. I had to learn to manage my emotions in good times. It was very important for me to be able to do this in my last year so that I could succeed in my actions for my team.
The captain’s mental work paid off and she lifted the Gladys Bean trophy for a second time, having also tasted the joy of victory in her first season in 2017.
“During the celebrations, I took some time alone because I realized that was the last time I was going to wear this uniform. I was even a little sad. I would have liked to play 10 more seasons with the Carabins.
A whole leader
Asked about Sauvé, her teammates all praised her leadership qualities, on and off the field. They also know that his departure will leave a void in the locker room.
“We are not replacing Mégane Sauvé,” said Katya Houpert. It will be up to us, those who will be graduating during the next season, to try to replace her leadership and try to do the job she was doing. It won’t be easy.”
Head coach Kevin McConnell also seemed a bit emotional when asked about his number 6.
“I must say that from the start, when we met Mégane, we knew that she would have a big impact on our programme,” he said.
“She’s a special player, but above all a special person.”
journaldemontreal Fr Sport