Originally published on CanadaSoccer.com
In the second semi-final of the day, at the Sport Chek National Club Championship, Alberta’s Calgary Callies defeated Saskatchewan’s HUSA Alumni Saskatoon 0:0 a.e.t / Callies 4-2 on kicks to advance to the Challenge Trophy finals.
Throughout the match, there was little separating these two former champions, as neither side was able to break down the others’ defence. What few chances were generated came, primarily, from distance.
“We wanted to absorb pressure and counter – and I think we did that well,” says HUSA’s coach Stewart Gillott. At the end of the day, the guys did everything asked of them; they left everything out there. When you go to a penalty shoot-out it’s a guessing game.”
The penalties, however, were almost avoided. In what would prove to be the liveliest moments of regulation, HUSA’s Jers Hamilton Barandica would strike the woodwork, not once, but twice, in the dying minutes. His first shot, from distance, would sail over the keeper and hit the crossbar. His second, a volley, would strike the post.
“I couldn’t repeat the words that came out of my mouth as I watched the ball go over my head,” says Callies goalkeeper Seth Richardson. “When I heard the ball hit the crossbar [on the first shot] I was like thank the Lord. We almost gave them [HUSA] the game in the dying minutes.”
The match would now head to penalties, where Richardson would prove to be the hero, stopping HUSA’s third and fourth shooters to secure the win for Alberta. “As a keeper [when it comes to penalty kicks] all the pressure is off. Thankfully, the guys made some good shots, and, to be honest, I was lucky. Sometimes you can tell where the shot is going, but, in this case, I guessed and fortunately, luck was with me.”
For HUSA this loss marks the second year in a row that they have been eliminated in the semi-final stage on penalty kicks. “It’s heartbreaking for the boys,” says Gillot. “Honestly, it stings, but tomorrow we play [FC Winnipeg Lions from Manitoba] for bronze, so we still have a chance to medal.”
The Callies, on the other hand, will be playing for gold against Ontario’s London Marconi. The match will take place tomorrow, Monday 13 October, at 12.00 ET / 09.00 PT and will be streamed live at canadasoccer.com/nationals.