Playoff repeat by GSE
Second championship in team's third St. Albert Men's Soccer League season
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013 06:00 am
Victoria Soccer Club – There was strength in numbers for GSE to repeat as the St. Albert Men’s Soccer League champions.
A full line-up of GSE players ambushed the paper-thin Rummies 5-1 on a warm and windy Sunday afternoon.
“Usually we’re short players but with the amount of numbers we had, and the charisma and the heart that we played with today, we’re not really surprised we won because we can play like this every single game and have a great time,” said midfielder Jadran Mujcinovic, who opened and closed the scoring in the rematch of the 2012 final.
Last year GSE edged the Rummies 1-0 to capture their first playoff cup in the team’s second SAMSL season.
“It feels really good to win it again,” said midfielder Roland Park. “Last year’s final was a lot scrappier. We scored right near the end of the half (in the 43rd minute) and just hung on for our dear lives. This one, when it was 3-1 (in the second half), it felt like we had won it and we were relaxed.”
The only goal this season by the opportunistic Park was the playoff winner in the 63rd minute. The straight-ahead slow roller slipped through goalkeeper Joel McRae’s hands and between his legs before stopping at the back of the net to break a 1-1 tie.
“I just hit it and it went in. There was nothing to it really. There was no need to celebrate,” said Park, who rejoined the team in late July. “If you don’t shoot you can’t score.”
Six minutes later, Kyle Greschuk finished off a tremendous scoring sequence in front of McRae that started with Tad Augustyn’s dash down the wing. His pass across the goalmouth was redirected by Terry Esposito to an unmarked Greschuk to salt away.
“After that it was like a breath of life. We’ve got our insurance goal and we can relax a bit and play our game. We play much better when we’re relaxed, that’s our style of play,” Park said.
In the 76th minute, and the Rummies reeling with fatigue, Brandon Kinley chased down a ball and his sturdy strike made it 4-1.
Mujcinovic wrapped up the scoring with a low shot that McRae didn’t move a muscle on.
His first goal in the ninth minute was the only score in the first half.
“It was an indirect free kick. I saw the right corner was open and I put it in,” said Mujcinovic, who accepted Kelly Willis’ short tap on the penalty play and rifled a shot that McRae made a gallant attempt to stop.
The Rummies were lucky to escape the first half down 1-0 against a fired-up GSE squad.
“There was a lot of intensity at the start. We wanted this for a while. They beat us in the season (2-0 in May, plus a 1-1 draw in July) and there is that rivalry between us too after last season,” Park said.
The Rummies kicked in the equalizer in the 50th minute on midfielder Mark Noskovic’s deposit against goalkeeper Matt Bergin. It was Noskovic’s third goal of the playoffs and the 28th of the season as the Golden Boot Award winner as the league’s top scorer. The previous high recently was 16 by Brian van Essen of the Rummies in 2008 and Matt Starcheski of Chester City in 2010 and 2011.
“We picked it up in the second half. We had more of our heads into it for the first 15 minutes or so and then we fell apart,” Noskovic said.
The valuable midfielder was one of three Rummies to get red carded in the 5-1 semifinal win over SA City. In the 73rd minute, and the Rummies up 4-1 after a pair of tallies by Noskovic less than two minutes apart, Shane Hordal of SA City and Noskovic got into a tiff while going for the ball that was out of play and the Rummies were awarded a corner kick. Other players joined in the fray, which featured more hugs than haymakers among the combatants.
When calm was restored, Noskovic, Hordal and Ryan Prodorutti of the Rummies were tossed from the match.
SAMSL director Nick Algar said after a discussion with the referee and reading his report, it was determined Noskovic’s removal was more for safety than any action he had taken and the league showed leniency on his issue.
Prodorutti and Alex Sinclair of the Rummies, who was red carded late in the semifinal after a hard tackle, were suspended for the final and Hordal sat out Sunday’s third-place game against Arsenal.
Noskovic, 23, said the Rummies gave it their best shot despite the shortage of players. When the match ended they had no subs because of injuries.
“We pretty much gave it all that we had. We were short players and if we had more players I’m sure we would’ve done better,” Noskovic said. “We just weren’t kind of there physically and mentally.”
Last year the prolific scorer finished in a five-way tie for second place in the Golden Boot derby with 13 goals.
“We have a great group of guys and everybody knows my style of play so they kind of find me and I’m lucky enough to get it into the net,” Noskovic said.
GSE, which stands for Green Street Elite and whose name was inspired by the English soccer movie Green Street Hooligans, finished 10-4-2 in league and playoffs combined after going 14-1-3 last year.
“We play possession. We keep calm, work the ball around and look for that killer pass while keeping a level head,” said Park, 22.
GSE is the only SAMSL team to beat the Rummies in the last two seasons. The Red Menace finished 13-1-2 this year and 16-1-1 in 2012.
“We always have a great rivalry with this team,” said Mujcinovic, 22, who was unavailable for last year’s final. “It’s all about hard work, numbers and a good work ethic. That’s what we have to bring against not only this team, but every other team every season.”
Visit www.stalbertgazette.com to view the GSE team picture.
CORNER KICKS: In the third-place playoff Arsenal (7-8-3) needed penalty kicks to beat SA City (5-13) 4-2 after a scoreless 90 minutes of back and forth soccer. Alan Stack of the Gunners scored the winner in the shootout.