Originally published on CanadaSoccer.com
Ontario’s London Marconi claim the Challenge Trophy at the Sport Chek National Club Championships, after defeating Alberta’s Calgary Callies 0:0 a.e.t / Marconi wins 4-2 on kicks.
The route to the final was a difficult one for both teams, who, come the whistle, were playing their fifth match in six days. However, despite the inevitable fatigue, both teams clearly wanted the championship—fighting for every ball and delivering tough tackles.
They played, as two teams should in the finals, with little distinguishing them throughout regulation. But ultimately, says Callies’ coach Dave Morrow, “You have to put the ball in the net, and neither side could do that so it came down to penalty kicks. And we didn’t execute, it’s just the way it is … somebody has to lose.”
In some respect, the Callies were hard done, having had the majority of opportunities throughout the match. Nevertheless, the game’s best chance belonged to Marconi, when, in the 13th minute of extra time, centre forward Tyler Hemming was taken down in the box. But his penalty shot – which would prove to be one of the highlights of the match – struck the cross bar and was smothered by Callies goalkeeper Matt Lally before it could bounce into the net.
This was the closest either side would come to scoring from open play, and both teams – who by this point were exhausted – welcomed the shoot-out. Having already gone to kicks at various stages of the knockout rounds (London in the quarter finals and Calgary in the semis) both clubs felt confident.
“In penalties, it’s anybody’s game,” says Marconi’s goalkeeper Mark Haynes, “but, going into the huddle [before the kicks], I told the guys, ‘bury your penalties and I promise you I’ll win the championship for you.’” True to his word, Hemming came through, stopping two of four shots to position his team for the win.
The stage was now set for Hemming to re-appear and seal the victory. And, this time, he made no mistake, shooting the ball hard to his right to secure the Challenge Trophy for Marconi– the first in the club’s history.
In celebration, the team held hands and ran the width of the field, bowing before their fans. “We’re all family,” says Hemming acknowledging the travelling supporters, who, throughout the match, could be heard chanting: “London, Marconi … clap, clap, clap…London, Marconi … clap, clap, clap.”
But in truth, says Hemming, “Both teams deserved the win. The Callies are a formidable team. And you can tell everyone gave it their all. You know, some of our guys can barely walk…it’s a testament to their will, to their mental strength that they’d lay it all on the line. It goes to show how much this means to our team. It just means everything.”