Down two players at the start of the game, Team A’s uphill battle grew steeper.
The team lost its captain early in the finals of the Metro Soccer League’s finals Friday at FH Collins.
However, despite this turn for the worse, the number-one seed almost pulled off a 4-1 comeback, but eventually fell to the number two seed C team 4-3.
“They were down three guys and they didn’t let up,” said Team C’s goalkeeper, George Maratos. “I think it’s a testament to how much they wanted it.”
The unexpected even play of the game is best depicted by the 0-0 score at halftime.
“I was getting a little worried; we’re up three guys, we should be getting more scoring opportunities,” said Maratos, speaking of the first half. “We didn’t really test their keeper.”
Once the ice was finally broken and goals started rolling in, Team C’s Brendan Preston stole the show, scoring three goals and getting an assist.
After scoring two goals, Preston found teammate Victor Lavenderous to set the score at 3-1 with 10 minutes left in the game.
“The goaltender kicked it out; it was a short kick, and I intercepted it,” said Preston, describing his assist. “Victor was up to the left so I went straight up to the defender, passed it to Victor and I think he put it in the top left (corner).”
Preston then made it 4-1 with just four minutes left, practically hand delivering the ball to the net after outmanoeuvreing defenders with some fancy footwork.
Contrary to reason, having a multiple-man advantage did not seem as beneficial for Team C as one might think.
“You’re used to playing 11-on-11 and all of a sudden you have all this field, and you can take more space, and the soccer game changes,” said Maratos. “I think that was some of the problem, just adjusting to that.
“It seems like an advantage, but all of a sudden you have to change your game,” added Maratos.
“Your players assume that they’re going to win — in the back of their minds,” said Team A captain Ammon Heofs, who left the game 10 minutes in with a hamstring injury. “So it definitely changes the dynamic of the game.”
Like a ball of twine unwinding with a roll down the stairs, Team C’s first-place wishes were almost dashed as Team A fought back to within a goal with just minutes to play.
Team A’s final goal was made by Matt Thomson, on a penalty kick resulting from an illegal slide-tackle with two minutes left on the clock.
“I just guessed wrong; I thought he was looking at that corner, so I figured he was going there,” said Maratos, of the penalty shot.
“I think I used up all my saves Wednesday,” added Maratos, referring to his team’s semifinal win Wednesday over Team C in which he faced four penalty shots.
Second win of the season means
third-place finish for Team B
Getting only one win midway through the regular season and a tie in the final week, Team B’s record going into the consolation finals had much to be desired.
Yet, a lackluster record did not prevent the young squad from taking a third-place with a 2-1 win over the third seeded Team D.
“The guys really came on in the end of the season and they played their best soccer,” said B team coach Jake Hanson, speaking of his team, which is made up exclusively by 15-, 16- and 17-and-under players.
“It’s an exciting way to end.”
Both of B team’s goals occurred in the first half by two of the team’s strikers.
Ten minutes in, Jono Quarton broke past a defender to get in the box and beat the goalkeeper on the short-side.
Caleb Kelly then got the game winner 15 minutes later.
“He put pressure on the goalie and ended up with the ball on his foot and he put it in.” said Hanson, describing Kelly’s goal.
“Caleb has had a knack for scoring goals this summer … he’s in the right place at the right time, makes good runs, and has scored a pile of goals for us this summer.”
Team D got on the board with 10 minutes left in the game. Jeff Hills found the back of the net on a penalty shot that resulted from a handball shortly after a corner kick.
A good number of Team B’s line up will be travelling to Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, to compete at a 16-and-under soccer tournament August 30 and 31.
The team, called the Krushers, will also be coached by Hanson. Then during Thanksgiving weekend, the boys will be competing in the U-16 Nationals in Sydney, Nova Scotia.