Crusaders conquer zone championship
You could tell from the smile on his face.
Minutes after scoring the high school zone championship-winning goal, Paolo DeSoto’s smile was ear to ear at Millennium Field, Friday (June 8).
DeSoto’s goal with about five minutes left in the Crusaders’ final round-robin match of the zone tourney clinched a 1-0 victory over the Okotoks Holy Trinity Academy. The victory meant the Crusaders captured both league and zone titles this season.
In a game which saw the Crusaders carry the bulk of play in Holy Trinity’s zone, the Canmore squad had quality scoring chances throughout, but couldn’t finish. Late in the game, though, midfielder Jihu Chun took a free kick from just outside the area; it was blocked by Holy Trinity, Crusader Patrick Moehler volleyed the rebound toward goal and DeSoto re-directed it sharply past the Trinity keeper for the win.
The victory meant Canmore did not have to await the results of a game between Cochrane and High River’s Notre Dame to have goal differentials affect the outcome.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” said DeSoto after the win in the Crusader’s fourth 60-minute game of the day. “I’m tired, but feeling good, this is some feeling. It felt good to score that one.
“We felt we’d controlled the game, a goal was bound to come. This is a double, we won the league and now the zone.”
After an opening loss to Airdrie’s George McDougall Mustangs – a game where it appeared Canmore forgot to set their alarms for the 8:30 a.m. match, Cochrane’s Cobras then defeated the Mustangs.
In the end, Canmore took championship gold, Cochrane silver and McDougall the bronze.
“We were worried about that (loss to Airdire),” said DeSoto, “because Cochrane beat them and they beat us; we didn’t want to wait and see how goals against turned out. Right now, everybody’s tired, but it feels awesome.”
Late in the game, it appeared DeSoto was not to be denied the winner, as his goal came after he sent a strong strike from 20 yards just over the Trinity goal’s crossbar, then, moments later, nearly directed in a header from a free kick while within the six-yard box.
Canmore keeper Brandon Butler had the shutout in the win.
In the final round-robin game, after Trinity floated a shot over the Canmore crossbar, midfielder Kosuke Shimizu had a pair of chances at the end of the first half. He fired one shot just past the post and, after taking a quality through pass, rifled a shot that was turned aside with a quality save by the Trinity keeper.
In the second half, Crusader Josh Lewis had the best chance, other than DeSoto’s, when he was in alone on the Trinity keeper for a shot from close in. The keeper bobbled it, but recovered before Lewis could get another shot away.
“That took a massive effort from the whole team,” said coach and former English Premier Leaguer Gavin Peacock after the game. The boys are literally on their last legs right now. We killed the league and now they have the zone win. It took great courage and character.
“And that was a goal all year. We wanted to develop sporting excellence and character.
“This is our second banner (zone title) in four years, so it’s a really good outcome. I’d also like to pay homage to the other teams that competed, the second and third place teams in particular.”
Peacock as well said he didn’t want to wait for the outcome of goal differential for the round-robin tourney, “I think we could have won it with a tie, but this (1-0) was a clean win and well deserved. I think Paolo had seven goals here and we’ve scored so many goals all season.”
Peacock said the only downside of the zone win is that it’s the end of the road, high school soccer-wise, for some of his senior players. “After three or four years, you get close to the boys and I look with hope into their future in college or further on.
“And we now have some Grade 9s like Soren Kwasny and Josh Lewis who are excellent technically and we’ve got them for another three years. And then we get exchange students every year who are usually good.
“Everyone played this season and everyone played in this tourney, that was important. When everyone plays, they can get into the pace of the game even if they don’t play regularly.”
Finally, the tourney was a showcase for the program Show Racism the Red Card, said Peacock, an anti-racism program he’s been involved with. A report on the tourney will be send to the anti-racism group to be posted on a website.
“This is what Show Racism the Red Card is about,” said Peacock. “We’ve got a British coach (himself) and a South African (co-coach Gary Anderson) and players from Japan, Mexico, Korea – so this is a microcosm of how society should be.”
In other round-robin action, Canmore lost 3-1 to Airdrie, defeated Notre Dame 5-0 and Cochrane 3-1.
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