Rummies taste bronze
St. Albert Men's Soccer League team finishes third at Tier IV provincials
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 05, 2012 06:00 am
ESA Complex – The 12th provincial medal in the storied history of the Rummies was the most satisfying of them all.
The most decorated and despised team in the St. Albert Men’s Soccer League hung on to defeat the Black Stars 3-1 in Monday’s bronze-medal match at the Tier IV championship tournament.
“It was a really good win,” said striker Laurence Gauthier. “It was a big game today and we wanted it really bad.”
After player/coach Rob Furlong was red carded with 10 minutes remaining for throwing a body check, the Rummies went into a defensive lockdown in front of keeper Joel McRae to preserve the victory against the top division 3B team in the Edmonton District Soccer Association.
“We were all together as a team, played hard and had fun doing it too,” Gauthier said.
Alex Sinclair opened the scoring in the fourth minute with a laser over top of the diminutive Black Stars keeper.
Mark Noskovic made it 2-0 halfway through the first half with some shifty footwork.
The Rummies dominated the first half but only had two goals to show for their efforts despite glorious opportunities by Brian van Essen, Norbert Filo and Noskovic.
“We always approach every game like we’re down a goal. We come out swinging. We play like we’re losing,” said Gauthier.
His third goal of the tournament came off a wild scramble in the 73rd minute.
Seven minutes later, the Black Stars banked a shot off the post to trail by two.
The Rummies had chances to seal the deal before the dubious call against Furlong.
While shorthanded, a couple of iffy penalties in Rummies’ territory allowed the Black Stars to shoot for the equalizer but they were unsuccessful.
“It was a battle right until the end,” Gauthier said.
The Rummies advanced into the medal round with two wins, including a 3-0 forfeit by Earls Phantoms of Medicine Hat, one loss and one tie in the group II round robin.
Sunday’s 10-2 blowout over Bonnyville gave the Rummies the edge in goal differential to secure a playoff spot.
Noskovic’s hat-trick, two-goal efforts by Gauthier, van Essen and Alan Smith and Filo’s single paced the attack.
“We needed that real bad. We didn’t put that score up there that high to make a statement, we needed that for this game just so we could play in it and everything worked out perfect,” Gauthier said.
The Rummies were hot under the collar after settling for a 1-1 draw with Vittorio Instinct FC and losing 6-0 to FC Albania of Calgary.
“When you know you can do better than that it really lights a fire under you,” Gauthier said.
Smith was the only goal scorer in the tournament opener against Vittorio, the first-place division 3A team in the EDSA.
“That was a tough one to take. We definitely should’ve capitalized a lot more on our opportunities but a tie is a tie,” Gauthier said.
Giving up six goals while shut out by Albania was another head scratcher.
“I can’t bring up any excuses for that game. Sometimes the ball goes your way and sometimes it goes the other way,” said Gauthier.
The physical forward described the road to the medal podium as a rollercoaster ride.
“We took a couple of beatings to get here but we came back strong,” he said. “There was lots of emotion. Big battles. Great teams. We had crazy weather: cold, warm, just everything. Overall, it was all-around good to be here at the end and that’s the most important thing.”
The Rummies displayed more of a passing game at provincials than their prolific run-and-gun offence that racked up 83 goals in 16 league games.
“Passing was key. This tournament is a little bit of a higher calibre than our league so we all just adapted,” said Gauthier, who shared the Golden Boot Award as the top scorer in league play with Filo and Todd Watson of Chester City with 14 goals apiece.
The Rummies finished the league table at 15-0-1 for a berth at provincials and a bye into Sunday’s semifinals. They play the group B playoff winner at 11 a.m. at Riel Recreation Park.
“It’s been an amazing season. One tie and that’s it,” said Gauthier, 28.
The Rummies haven’t missed a beat after taking the last two years off. The 2009 final marked the 17th straight appearance in the big game for the 13-time playoff cup winners.
The final is Sept. 16 at 1 p.m.
“It’s a huge deal for me and I know it’s important for everybody else to win it this year,” said Gauthier, 28, a first-year Rummie from Squamish, B.C. “There is a lot of pride being a Rummie and I’m part of something special.”