After getting closer to major titles at the Canadian Championship a year ago, the two Rouge et Or soccer teams kicked off their season on Wednesday night with the idea of doing whatever it takes to clinch the title this fall. The march started well.
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Visiting Sherbrooke for the opening game against Vert et Or, the two Laval clubs showed their seriousness. The women won 2-1, while the men completed the double with a 6-0 win, thanks in part to three goals from Jérémy Ménard.
The women’s team has already secured a presence at the Canadian Championship (U Sports) as they will host the event at Telus Stadium from November 10th to 13th. Last year the Rouge et Or finished their run with bronze.
Entering his third season at the helm of the program, David Desloges’ charges don’t want to take it lightly.
“Last season went well and we finished the Canadian Championships strong. We want to continue this momentum.
“Management is easier than if we had the pressure to win to be with the Canadians, but at the end of the day we want to be national champions anyway. We will have a better fate at the Canadian Championship. It’s in the girls’ DNA to constantly work to improve and perform,” commented the pilot.
Despite the departure of experienced players, Rouge et Or can count on the return of their top three goalscorers, including Joëlle Mercier, who scored one of her two goals as goalkeeper, Catherine Fortier’s other work.
“I really foresee a good season,” said the forward. We have great chemistry. We’ve lost a few veterans, but we’re keeping a good core of players who have experience in a Canadian championship. It can just go well and we hope to have the gold medal around our necks at the end.
For the men, coach Samir Ghrib wants to use the experience from last season to serve the team. His side have suffered just two losses in their entire campaign, including one that hurt in the quarter-finals of the national championship. The Rouge et Or finished fifth.
“Twenty-two players are back and they make an excellent group. I have eight or nine graduates and from experience there is a strong desire to graduate with a good result,” noted Ghrib.
“The goal has always been to win the Canadian Championship. I have to especially remind the guys that they worked very hard last year. It’s the most difficult thing in sport, everything has to be redone,” he added.
His captain, midfielder Jean-Philippe Lévesque, rightly believes the graduates’ insatiable appetites will serve their cause.
“What we feel is less urgency and more a hunger for victory. We wouldn’t feel the urgency if we hadn’t gone to the Canadian Championship, but we experienced it. What drives us is the desire to do something that sticks, to win,” he said.
Both teams will start their home season on Friday at Telus Stadium against nemesis Carabins (6pm and 8.15pm).
This season’s men’s U-Sports championship will be held in Kamloops, British Columbia.
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