Rangers shoot for premier status
Winner of Monday's promotion challenge plays premier men's soccer next year
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 06:00 am
Coronation Park – The St. Albert Impact Rangers can punch their ticket for a return trip to the premier division in next week’s promotion match in the Edmonton District Soccer Association.
Kickoff between the Rangers and S.S. Lazio is 6:30 p.m. Monday at the ESA Complex.
The winner plays in premier and the loser will kick the ball in division one next year.
“We really want to get back into premier. That’s the important game. That’s the one we’re really concentrating on,” said striker Marc Tetreau after the 3-0 loss to the Scona Blues this past Monday in the Tier II provincial playdowns. “This was a game that we wanted to win too but it really wasn’t our top priority. (The promotion game) is our top priority.”
Lazio finished eighth at 4-10-3 in the 10-team premier table.
“It’s been a while since we played them but we know they have a lot of skill and they’re also pretty physical too,” Tetreau said. “We’re expecting a pretty solid game and we just have to give it our best.”
The Rangers placed second in division 1A at 9-4-1 for a shot at the Tier II provincials and promotion challenge.
Last year the Rangers finished at the bottom of the premier table at 1-12-3.
“This year we revamped three quarters of our team. We still have quite a few old vets kicking around but we have a lot of young guys now,” said Tetreau, 34, a longtime Ranger and a major player in the team’s first-place 12-2-4 record in premier and Tier I provincial bronze medal victory in 2007. “It means a lot that we're able to help these young guys build their confidence and show them what it’s like to win so we can get back into premier. It’s important.”
Last week the Rangers edged the St. Albert Impact 2-1 in the provincial playdowns for a berth in the promotion challenge. The Impact was the division 1B runner-up at 9-5 behind Scona at 10-2-2.
Scona will join AS Roma – the division 1A leaders at 14-0 who beat the Blues 4-0 in last week’s crossover playdowns – at provincials next weekend in Calgary after beating the Rangers in Monday’s physical affair. Scona was issued several yellow cards, and one of the fouls was a nasty tackle attempt from behind on Ryan Sebastianelli in front of the Rangers’ net in the 28th minute. After several minutes lying on the ground surrounded by teammates, the veteran Ranger limped off the pitch and didn’t return.
Towards the end of the first half, Emmett Keenan and a Scona foe were carded following an altercation ignited by roughhouse tactics by both players.
“It was a battle. The play was rough the whole game. The ref let a lot go, especially at the start of the game,” Tetreau said.
Scona opened the scoring in the 31st minute on a penalty shot against keeper Tom Wolansky, the Rangers’ best player in the loss. Wolansky made a handful of highlight-reel stops before Scona broke it open in the second half with goals in the 58th minute off a free kick and the 66th minute on a tricky shot to the short side by Terry Sims. The big and dangerous striker should’ve netted at least four goals if not for a combination of timely Wolansky saves and misfired attempts.
“They potted a couple of good goals and we didn’t bury our chances early, which made a difference,” Tetreau said.
The Rangers’ attack revolved around Tetreau and speedsters Jonathon Mark and Walie Aktary up front, with captain Mike Thompson and Brent Jenkins setting the table from their midfield positions.
In the first half Tetreau’s header was punched out by the Scona keeper. The Blues regained possession, bolted down the field and on their chip shot over top of the back line the Rangers were called for holding in the box and Scona capitalized from the penalty spot.
“We played better in the first half. The first five minutes we dominated. We had some good chances but just didn’t bury them,” said Tetreau, who scored six goals in league play, one less than David Letourneau’s team-high total.