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CAPE BRETON, N.S. — The Mount Royal Cougars continue to build their historical soccer legacy after beating the York Lions 1-0 in the 2023 U SPORTS nationals quarter-final match hosted at Cape Breton University on Thursday evening in Sydney, N.S.

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Although the match was incredibly intense and physical from the first whistle to the final, the majority of the game remained scoreless. With two yellow cards and 15 fouls called on each team, it was clear neither opponent was going to go down without a fight. The Lions took four shots with one on goal in each half, but the Cougars were far more aggressive attacking in the second half, taking seven shots with six on goal in just the final 45 minutes.

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Then, in the 89th minute, Miguel Da Rocha, who entered as a second-half substitute, beautifully headed the ball into the net after a corner kick snipe from Finn Marshall, who entered the game only four minutes prior. Da Rocha continues to be one of the top playoff contributors for the Cougars, after he was an integral part of their success in winning gold in the Canada West championship scoring two goals total in the conference, and continues his invaluable impact in the U SPORTS national championship.

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“I’m so, so excited. This still doesn’t feel real. I’m so happy for all of the hard work we’ve done to get here, and I’m so happy that we are continuing to move on in the conference,” said Da Rocha.

“We worked so hard. It was a hard-fought match, and York is so talented, but at the end of the day, we got the job done, and it feels fantastic,” said Aidan Dumoulin, MRU’s outstanding rookie goalkeeper who earned his 12th shutout of the season.

Head Coach, Ryan Gyaki added, “both teams dominated. It could have gone either way. I thought York played amazing and was very well coached. It was a great game of football. I’m so proud of the boys, and I’m so excited to move on to the semi-final match (Friday).”

The legacy the team has built this year is nothing short of spectacular. Not only is the men’s soccer team the first Cougars team to win gold in the Canada West championship, but they are also the first MRU team to enter into the U SPORTS nationals in the No. 1 seed.

Next up is the semifinal Friday at 3:30 p.m., when the team will be taking on the host school, the Cape Breton Capers.

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