GSE drains Rummies in SAMSL final
First playoff cup in team history
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 19, 2012 06:00 am
Terry Esposito scored the only goal of the game as GSE knocked off the undefeated Rummies for the St. Albert Men’s Soccer League playoff cup.
Esposito capitalized on a defensive miscue in the 43rd minute and keeper Matt Bergin posted the shutout in Sunday’s final at Riel Recreation Park.
“It’s so awesome to be the city champs,” an excited Esposito told the Gazette.
GSE pulled off the feat in only its second year in SAMSL.
“It feels like a million bucks,” declared Bergin. “We played a good, solid game from beginning to end. There were a couple of heart attacks here and there but other than that we kept it clean and solid defensively.”
Bergin’s kick down field put Esposito in position to pot the game winner against keeper Joel McRae.
“One thing led to another and we caught their goalie out of the net. He didn’t play it that well and we chipped it around and scored,” Bergin said. “It was very much an opportunistic goal.”
Esposito played a hunch when Bergin booted the ball deep into Rummies’ territory.
“I just saw how they were using their keeper every chance they got. Their guy looked back to his keeper and the ball was coming to him so I knew he was going to use his keeper. I basically got on the keeper as hard as I could, forced him to make a mistake, went around him and put it into the empty net,” Esposito said. “Luckily their guy was just half a second too late and touched it into his own net but almost saved it.”
Rummies player/coach Rob Furlong was playing sweeper when Esposito capitalized on the snafu.
“It was partially my fault and they pounced on it,” Furlong said. “It was opportunistic but that’s soccer.”
GSE played with more spring in their step after escaping the first half with the lead.
“It picked up the momentum for us huge,” Esposito said. “We usually start slow the first couple of minutes of each half but our game picked up after that goal and we got it done.”
The Rummies dominated ball possession throughout the match but lacked finish in front of Bergin.
“Their defence played well, cleared their lines and kept it really simple,” Furlong said. “Before the game I thought their game plan was to work hard, wait for a mistake and grab a goal. That’s what they did and then they defended well. Their keeper was also exceptional today.”
The Rummies poured the pressure on as time wound down but GSE stood tall in front of Bergin to preserve the win.
“It was just a solid defensive effort at the end of the game,” Esposito said. “They were getting chances and it was looking like they were maybe going to bury one, but our defence just stayed strong and held them out. We got the ball out every chance we could and tried to keep it out as long as we could and it worked out for us.”
Bergin, 25, was cool as ice while making a handful of clutch saves down the stretch.
“I don’t get nervous during games because I try and get myself focused and stay in the game. You just think about your job and do it,” said Bergin, who is playing on his third SAMSL team since breaking into the league at age 18. “You also get to know the tendencies of each team. You know which ball is going to which player and you can kind of just jump on that and kind of get there a half step early and that’s what I tried to do today.”
The closest the Rummies came to scoring the equalizer was Ryan Prodorutti’s shot that glanced off the top corner in extra time.
“We have a good, solid back core. They know how to play defence and they play it well,” Bergin said. “I also can’t say enough about our captain [and sweeper], Quinn Smith-Ackerl. He’s the heart of the team.”
In league play GSE (12-1-3) finished seven points behind the pennant-winning Rummies (15-0-1) as the second-best defensive team. Both squads also received byes into the semifinals and represented SAMSL at Tier IV provincials.
The playoff triumph by GSE was the 15th win in 22 games, including the team’s 1-3 showing at provincials.
“It was a huge win for us, especially after our provincials didn’t go very well at all. We had barely any guys show up,” said Esposito, the team’s top scorer in the regular season with 13 goals.
The 20-year-old striker said GSE stands for Green Street Elite and was inspired by the Green Street Hooligans, an English soccer movie.
“It’s basically a group that follows around their favourite team and brawls with other teams. We thought it was a pretty good fit because we’re a little bit of a sassy team if you know what I mean. We like to talk a little bit and get a little bit chippy once in a while,” said the Paul Kane High School grad.
Losing to GSE was a sobering experience for the Rummies, the Tier IV provincial bronze medallists. As the final unfolded against the team they tied 1-1 in June and beat 3-0 in July, the Rummies voiced their frustrations on the field and on the bench
“We’re disappointed with the result, but it’s our intention to win every game we play,” Furlong said. “We gave it our best shot today and everyone worked hard.”
At provincials the Rummies went 3-1-1 en route to winning their 12th medal in team history.
The Rummies also finished 1-2 at the second annual Dieter Knobloch Memorial Adult Tournament, with losses of 2-0 to the championship-winning Regala FC of Fort McMurray and 5-4 on penalty kicks to the St. Albert Impact Rangers after a 2-2 stalemate in regulation time.
“I thought we could’ve won every single game this year,” Furlong said. “We did great at provincials and we’re happy with the bronze.”
Furlong considers the season a success after the team’s two-year hiatus away from the pitch. The last match for the Rummies before rejoining SAMSL was the 4-0 loss to Summit FC for the 2009 playoff cup. It was the 17th straight appearance in the final by the winners of an unprecedented 13 playoff cups.
“We’re really happy we put the team together this year. In the regular season we had real good turnouts. There is a great camaraderie on the team,” Furlong said. “As soon as the whistle was blown we were already talking and excited about next season.”