FOOTBALL. Slowly but surely, the Vandoos are becoming a real little dynasty of Quebec civil soccer.
The Drummondville program is not only the Montreal-Metro Football League (LFMM) midget AAA champion for the second year in a row, but also won the President’s Cup in the bantam AAA division for the second time in three years.
Benefiting from the support of hundreds of rowdy fans who braved the autumn chill on Saturday night at the Alphonse-Desjardins Stadium in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, two Vandoos teams worked hard to steal victory from their opponents in the playoff final. In midget AAA, Michaël Robin’s team defeated the Patriotes de l’Ouest 22-15 to complete a second consecutive perfect season.
After seeing their rivals from Île Perrot take an early lead, Drummondvillois went on to score two touchdowns in the second quarter and returned to the locker room with a 15-7 lead. Refusing to surrender, the Patriotes tied the game at 15-15 in the third quarter. That was the moment when ball carrier Guillaume St-Laurent decided to score his second touchdown of the game, propelling his team to the championship.
“These guys are winners,” said Michaël Robin when met Express in the middle of the celebration. They know what they need to do to win and they do all the little details well to get there. It was difficult at the beginning of the game. We remained in doubt, but we did not panic. After the second touchdown, there was no more doubt. We performed at the peak of our talent, as we did all year.”
“This group has just won the last three years in a row. It’s unbelievable,” added the footballer, whose team are now unbeaten in their last 20 games.
Double championship for the Vandoos, who won the midget AAA final #LFMM 22-15 against the Patriotes de l’Ouest tonight at the Alphonse-Desjardins Stadium. #football #Drummondville pic.twitter.com/razT1FaJra
— Jonathan Habashi (@JonathanHabashi) November 12, 2023
After racking up 182 yards rushing, Guillaume St-Laurent was named the game’s MVP for the Vandoos, after receiving the same honor Two years ago among bantas. Thomas Guillot scored the second touchdown for the winners, moments after seeing Guillaume St-Laurent return a long punt.
“Guillaume is an exceptional athlete. He’s a guy who will go wherever he wants. I think everyone will like it. He will make the right choice for him, I am convinced,” said Michaël Robin.
Expected to become the next head coach of the Voltigeurs du Cégep de Drummondville, the former Riverains pilot from Marie-Rivier High School did not, however, think about promotion when he left the field. “I will take time to experience this championship 100% tonight. We’ll see then,” said the man supported without his tasks by Jonathan Belhumour, Raphaël Gaudet, Yan Genest, Thomas Morissette, Guy Janelle, Cédrik Maillette, Lucas Pelletier-Belzile, Léonardo Davila and Philippe Caya-Bisaillon.
A united team
In the bantam AAA final, a few hours earlier, The Vandos had the final say 16-13 over Pirates du Richelieu after an exciting duel. After several missed opportunities early in the game, Drummondvillois got going in the second quarter, when Maxym Sugoniako scored a spectacular touchdown on a punt return. Holding a 16-0 lead in the third quarter, the Vandoos suffered several turnovers that allowed the Pirates to claw their way back into the game. Jean-Michel St-Laurent’s unit still held on to lift the precious trophy.
“Once again, team unity, intensity and mental preparation made the difference,” said Jean-Michel St-Laurent minutes after this triumph. It was a close game, but we had the feeling that we were one step ahead of our opponents, physically and mentally. We never gave up. In the end, there was only one mission left and the boys accomplished it.”
“These little ones are like my sons. I’m so proud of them,” added the Vandoos pilot.
On defense, Maxym Sugoniako, Jacob Rouleau and Bastien St-Laurent increased the number of tackles and throws to the quarterback. “All year our defense kept the club together. They did it again today.”
Literally all over the field, Maxym Sugoniako was named the most valuable player of the Vandoos. Employed in all sauces, the former Saint-Bernard College Senators scored two touchdowns as well as a 156-yard rushing gain. “Maxym is our star. He is a ball full of energy, both on the bench and in the game,” explained Jean-Michel St-Laurent.
— Jonathan Habashi (@JonathanHabashi) November 11, 2023
Hats off to his assistants Marc Pérodeau, David Paradis, Pierre-Alexandre Guillot, Hugues Lapointe, Benoît Pépin and Jérôme Blanchet, Jean-Michel St-Laurent also thanked his loved ones who have to sacrifice during the football season. The Vandoos coach also greeted the Drummondville crowd. “Our fans surpassed those of the Pirates. We felt all their energy. It carried us to the end!”
While 28 of the team’s veterans will jump to the midget AAA category next season, about 22 rookies will return with the bantam AAA team.
“We will continue to be strong. We will focus on recruitment, but I am not worried. When you win a championship, everyone wants to come and play in your team,” claimed Jean-Michel St-Laurent, who has led his players to five finals, including two championships, since 2017.
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