With the sun already below the horizon, the refs had little choice but to send the soccer game to a shootout in the semifinals of the men’s Senior Metro League Wednesday at Ecole Emilie Tremblay.
After regulation time ended with the game at 3-3, Team A earned a trip to the finals when its goalkeeper Mike DeLuca saved Team B’s final two shots to take the shootout 4-3 and the game 4-3 as well.
“We’ve got more experience: we’ve got older players,” said Team A captain Ammon Hoefs. “I think that is what helped us at the end.”
“These guys have been improving every single game,” continued Hoefs, speaking of Team B. “The first couple games we beat them, and then in the last game we beat them as well, but it went until the very last minute.”
The flow of the game was influenced by player numbers, with both teams being short for various parts of the contest.
“We had at least one player at the Indigenous Games, one of our players was working out of town, we had another off at nationals in basketball,” said Hanson.
“I’ve had a full bench all season and then this week, for some reason, I’ve got only 60 per cent of my team,” he added. “Something’s going on.”
Team B’s Caleb Kelly opened the scoring five minutes into the game while his team had a two man advantage. However, once more Team A players arrived and took the field there was a momentum shift that allowed Matt Thomson to tie it 20 minutes in.
“They started a few short, so it helped (Team A) when they had a full team,” said B Team coach Jake Hanson. “We played a man down until about 30 minutes left in the game.”
“We’ve had problems getting numbers (of players) out all season; we’ve had 11 players out a game, if that,” said Hoefs.
Eventually, when it was tied 2-2 in the second half, Mac Potter put Team B back in the lead, catching A’s goalkeeper far out of his box — lobbing a shot over him from midfield.
With 10 minutes left DeLuca, spending some time out of net, tied the game, rifling a shot through B goalie’s grip from 10 yards out.
“I think both teams were warmed up by that point,” said Hoefs. “Both teams wanted to win, so everyone was pushing hard.”
Strong first half
puts Team C in finals
In their last regular season game, after 90 minutes of play, Teams C and D left the field with a 1-1 tie. However, that was not the case during Wednesday’s semifinals.
Team C took an early lead and held it on its way to a 6-2 win over D, advancing them to the finals.
Team C’s Jon Prestin drew first blood early on, scoring just two minutes in. Prestin’s brother Brenden then doubled the score with a goal of his own.
D moved back within one after a corner kick was knocked around in front of C’s net and eventually met the mesh.
“Kind of some scrambling goals by them,” said George Maratos, goalkeeper and one of Team C’s captains, speaking of the first half. “Our goals were quite nice — we moved the ball around quite nice. Where theirs were just (from) digging around the box and the corners.”
Team D’s best chance to close the gap in the first half came on a string of penalty shots. The D squad received a penalty shot and was given three bonus opportunities when Maratos was called for moving off his line. Maratos saved the first two and the other two missed the net.
“I’ve never actually been called on that before, and I’ve played goal for 20 years,” said Maratos. “It’s usually one of those things where the refs, if there is movement, they say it is already a hard enough save — you watch the pros and there’s a lot of movement. It was kind of surprising.”
Finishing the first up 3-2, Team C scored three more in the second on their way to the win. However, the second half was not a walkover for Team C.
“They came on strong in the first few minutes,” said Maratos. “(We had to) weather the storm for a bit; I had to make a few saves. They were putting the pressure on.”
Team A will be facing Team C in the Metro League finals this evening at 8:30 p.m. at FH Collins. The third-place game, featuring Team B and D, will take place just prior to the finals, at 6:30 p.m.
“I think our guys are really excited,” said Hanson. “We only won one game all season … and one of our (two) ties Monday. So it seems like the team is just building some confidence. I think the kids are excited to have another game.”