(FREDERICTON, N.B.) - The top-seeded Acadia Axemen have ended the UNB Varsity Reds' three-year run as AUS men's soccer champions.
The Axemen scored a 1-0 win in Friday's first semifinal of the Subway AUS Men's Soccer Championship, in Fredericton.
Cooper Coats (Halifax, N.S.) scored in the 12th minute to give Acadia the win.
"It felt pretty good off my foot," said Coats. "I knew I was going across the net, and I was happy that it got in."
With the win, the Axemen advance to Sunday's AUS final.
They've also booked a spot in the national university men's soccer championship tournament, next week, at the University of Guelph.
"We've always had that monkey on our back, with UNB," said Coats. "To do it here… they snubbed us at our home field, last year, at AUS, so to go to their home field, and get a bit of redemption feels amazing."
Coats' goal just eluded Varsity Reds' keeper Evan Barker (Winnipeg, Man.).
Looking to equalize, the Varsity Reds pushed time and again into the Acadia zone in the second half.
But strong defence and some focused play from fifth-year netminder Nigel Goodwin (Milton, Ont.) thwarted every UNB push.
"It's definitely the whole team that performed today," said Goodwin. "UNB is a top team, they always have been. Both teams battled out there, UNB pressed really hard in the second half. It's a game that can come down to just one goal."
"You're never happy losing, especially in a big game like this, but I'm proud of the boys," said Varsity Reds fullback Kalen Park (Calgary, Alta.). "We played a great game, we had our chances, we just couldn't score. It was kind of the story of our season, we just couldn't finish."
The Varsity Reds were the only team to beat the Axemen, during the regular season.
"I'm very relieved after that game. It was a close game," said Axemen head coach Findlay MacRae. "We've worked so hard building this program, and this year we worked so hard to be first in the league, and we didn't want to have it end here."
After playing in last year's national university final, this season is now over for UNB.
"They tried to take away the things that we've been doing well lately," said Varsity Reds head coach Miles Pinsent. "It didn't help that we started the game into a strong headwind, and we never got settled. Before we could get settled, they found the net, and from there we had to chase the rest of the way."
The Axemen will now face the Cape Breton Capers in Sunday's final at 2 p.m. The game will be televised live on Bell Aliant Fibe TV, channels 1 and 401, and available via webcast at www.AUStv.ca.
Recap and photos courtesy of Andy Campbell, UNB Athletics