It’s not how you start a season, it’s how you finish it.
After being held to just one win in their first eight matches of the season, Assante Financial Management finished on top in the final of the Whitehorse Rapids Over-35 Men’s Indoor Soccer League playoff at the Canada Games Centre on Saturday.
“We had a really good season this year,” said Assante captain Dave Black. “We had a tough start. We won one of our first eight or 10 games and then lost only one or two of the last 10. We had a good second half.”
Lifting Assante to champion status in the league was a 3-1 win over Quest Computers in the final.
“I’m happy. We lost the final, but as a team performance, I’m happy with the team,” said Quest captain Justin Carre. “Everyone played their role. We … gave ourselves a real shot at it. It takes the sting out of defeat that we played a game like that.”
The two finalist teams had mirror-opposite regular seasons. Quest began strong, took the top spot and began taking more losses towards the end of the season – still hanging on to first place, but barely.
“We won by a point, but by the end we were falling off the lead,” said Carre.
Assante’s winning goal came just 20 seconds into the second half, on a short, high shot from Jake Hanson. Chay DeLorey then got the insurance goal midway through the second, capitalizing on a cross-field pass from Black.
“I think all year we’ve been passing the ball really well,” said Black. “It’s been a real team effort, not one guy doing everything. We move around, pass the ball and it paid off in the end.”
Assante, which finished third in the regular season standings behind Pepsi, drew first blood in the match. Doug Hnatiuk got a close-range goal on a rebound from Hanson, at minute 14.
Hnatiuk was his team’s top scorer, and fourth in the league, for the regular season with 17 goals.
Carre scored his team’s lone goal on an end-to-end effort, weaving through two Assante defenders. The Quest captain led the league in goals during the regular season with 33 in total.
“Both teams played well. I liked the competitive spirit. It was very fairly contested, but physical,” said Carre. “It was a good, fun game to be in. It was a final, so people can get hot-headed, but there wasn’t a lot of that.
“I think the better team won – but just.”
In the fight for third place, Klondike Business Solutions defeated Pepsi 6-2 in the match before the final.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com