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Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018
Sacre-Coeur upsets Lo-Ellen in boys soccer playoff action
by Randy Pascal

Far be it for the boys high-school soccer loop to be left out of the mix in the playoff upset carousel this spring.

Just days after the Lasalle Lancers surprised the Marymount Regals in SDSSAA Open Premier Girls soccer quarter-final action, the young lads representing the Sacré-Coeur Griffons proved themselves up to the task of eliminating another top seed as well.

Sparked by a two-goal effort from Mathieu Archambault and benefitting from an untimely hand-ball, in the box, from the Lo-Ellen Park Knights (3-0-1), the Griffons (0-4-0) slipped past the Knights 3-2, advancing through to the final four on Friday.

Franck Shu Atoh would net the game-winning goal, slicing just in front of Lo-Ellen keeper Lucas Lachapelle and deftly redirecting a pass from Saker Bobda Fotso into the back of the net.

Despite playing 10 v 11 for much of the match, the favoured Knights still appeared set to prevail, opening the scoring on a beautiful direct strike from Jacob Socransky from 35 yards out, and quickly erasing a 2-1 half-time deficit with a goal from Kieran Eagan.

But while a large number of players have graduated from the 2017 Sacré-Coeur lineup that lost in the city final to the St Charles College Cardinals, those who remained were willing to draw inspiration from their predecessors.

"Our coach, Simon Brock, gave us a good speech, reminded us that we upset CND (Collège Notre-Dame) last year (in the semi-finals), and the guys were motivated from that," stated Archambault.

Trailing 1-0 at the time of the Lo-Ellen hand-ball infraction - a foul that causes an immediate red card dismissal, if clearly denying a goal scoring attempt - Archambault suggested that the Griffons could sense a potential momentum swing in the making.

"First of all, it was just making sure I got the penalty kick in, to get the goal," admitted the 17 year-old grade 12 student. "Then it was just a matter of being consistent and taking advantage of the extra player."

"They spread their defense really wide, giving us some room if we could send a good through ball. We were able to get some good shots on net or just cross it." And when Shu Atoh found the back of the net with roughly 15 minutes remaining, it was time for Sacré-Coeur to bring their leader back to support.

"I play defense with the GSSC U-21 team in the summer, so it wasn't that hard to drop back and just play defense," said Archambault. "Being up on offense was a little bit weird, but I kind of got used to it. When I got back to my comfortable spot, it was just a matter of holding it down."

In doing so, Archambault would rely on some key contributions from some unexpected sources. "My two fullbacks - Riley Dupuis and Caleb (Cam) Maki - they haven't played in a long time and they improved a lot," he said.

"They have speed. Cam got a nice tackle to stop one of their open shots late in the game. I was happy about that." First place finishers in the opposite pool and boasting a 4-0-0 record entering the playoffs, St Charles also needed some late game heroics to register a 2-1 win over the Confederation Chargers.

Jack Jordan and Nick Gnahore scored for the winners, the latter providing the dramatics with about three minutes left in the game. The Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes blanked the Lockerby Vikings 2-0 in a contest that marked an end to a decade plus of Lockerby coaching for Paul Hatzis - he moves to Lo-Ellen in the fall - while the St Benedict Bears recorded the most lopsided win of the day, bouncing the Lively Hawks 4-0.

Gianfranco Carniel, Max McGillivray, Giovanni Mastroianni and Robert Krueger handled the offense for the Bears, who now face the Cardinals on Friday at 2:00 p.m. at the James Jerome Sports Complex.

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