By Charles Vanegas
For the second straight year, the University of British Columbia (UBC) Thunderbirds are the CIS national champions in men’s soccer, after defeating the Laval Rouge et Or 3-1 in the title game. After trailing 1-0 at halftime, the Thunderbirds scored three unanswered goals in an 11-minute span to emerge victorious.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said UBC striker Niall Cousens, who was named tournament MVP. “We really battled. At halftime, we were calm; we had confidence and knew we could get back in it. We got a goal early and it just took off from there. It’s a quality bunch of guys, and we showed it today.”
Cousens scored in the 52nd minute, before midfielders Milad Mehrabi and Navid Mashinchi scored in the 62nd and 63rd, respectively.
“When I saw it go in, I was so happy,” said Mehrabi, on his game-winning goal. “Just like two days before, we got down 1-0 against York, and we came back to win 2-1. We tried to do the same thing. Inside, our coaches got us fired up and said, ‘we gotta get it going. We have to fight for the next 45 minutes and give it all you’ve got. Last game of the season.’ And we did it, and got the win.”
UBC has now won four of the past nine national championships. Head coach Mike Mosher’s explanation for that pattern of success was simple.
“Good players. Good players make coaches look good. But I think we’ve created a nice culture of winning,” said Mosher. “In our program, we’ve set the bar so high – it’s about national championship or bust. There are no rebuilding years. It’s ‘go win it.’”
Laval midfielder Amaury Fauvergue scored the lone goal for Laval.
In addition to UBC and Laval winning the gold and silver, the host New Brunswick Varsity Reds were awarded bronze medals after defeating the York Lions in the third-place game earlier in the day.
Ryerson Rams striker Alex Braletic was named a tournament all-star.