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CMU’s Run For A Championship Begins

photo by Kevin Friesen

It has been almost a decade since the CMU men’s soccer team has lifted the MCAC Championship trophy. The gold name plates that adorn the award show three teams most prevalently: CUSB, Providence and most recently the University of Winnipeg, who are now competing as a part of Canada-West in the CIS.

The nineties was the era of the strong Voyageurs de College Universitaire de St-Boniface – the powerhouse of the then Manitoba Christian Colleges Athletic Association. As the conference entered the 21st century, the shade of the MCAC award turns considerably Providence blue. Not only were the Freemen the dominant force of the Manitoba Conference, (at that time named the Central Plains Athletic Conference) they also rose to prominence  south of the border in the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletics Association) a conference to which they continue membership in even to today.

In recent years, MCAC soccer has been powered by the University of Winnipeg, who since 2010 won back to back championships and have since moved on to conference play in Canada West.

photo by Kevin Friesen

“The playing field has certainly been leveled this season,” said fifth-year Blazers head coach Russell Willms who has seen his team triple their win total this season and finish with a .500 regular season record. “We have continued to improve our program each season and the team that we have assembled this year really has  a shot at winning. You never know how the ball will bounce, but we are confident of ourselves going in.”

Timing couldn’t be much better for the Blazers as they enter Championship weekend, as defender Jordon Zimmerly, midfielder Andrew Letkeman and striker Taku Mizuno, all temporarily sidelined by injuries in October, are nearing full-fitness. “We are almost back to full-health but there are a number of players that are still question-marks that we hope can figure into the team this weekend,” said Willms.

Striker Dylan Attardo and defender Imran Uwimana both suffered injuries in the final regular season match against Providence and have missed the majority of team training this week.

The Championship quest begins for CMU on Saturday afternoon at 4 pm at Norm Konowalchuk Field at Red River College’s Notre Dame Campus when they kick-off with the University of St-Boniface. The Blazers and Les Rouges split their regular season meetings; USB winning 4-3 at Whittier Park and CMU winning 3-0 at the complex.

Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference Northern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association