Controversy kicks Knights at zones
Soccer: Penalties lead Cochrane to second-half comeback in tournament final
Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 06:00 am
Everything was going according to plan.
The Holy Trinity Academy Knights had swept through round-robin with a flawless record, avoided arch-rival Canmore in the playoff round and held a 1-0 advantage in the South Central Zone final after a dominant first-half versus the host Cochrane Cobras.
It all changed with two sounds of the whistle.
Cochrane made good on two controversial second-half penalties to steal victory from the jaws of defeat and leave the Knights pondering what could have been after a heartbreaking 2-1 loss on Friday.
“It’s really frustrating,” expressed Knights head coach Crystal Anderson. “I think the first one (penalty) happened outside the box and the second one wasn’t a fair call either.
“It’s really unfortunate that we lose on two-penalty shots when we’ve already beat this team and we have possession and I do think we deserved to win.”
The Knights were on a mission in the first-half of Friday’s final and were swiftly rewarded for the strong start when midfielder Jordan McCarthy’s looping shot from distance went off the fingertips of the Cobra keeper and into the back of the net.
HTA couldn’t add to its lead before the break despite golden opportunities from slick left-midfielder Braden Barwich, centre-mid Oliver Pearson and striker Sam Coyles, all of whom were stymied on clear cut chances.
Five minutes after the break, Cochrane was awarded its first of two penalties on a tackle at the edge of the eighteen yard-box. Cobras captain Robert Reid stepped up and delivered and out of nowhere, against the run of play, the hosts evened the contest at 1-1.
“That was huge,” said Reid.
“If we didn’t score that, if we don’t get that penalty, I don’t think we would have won the game.”
The Cobra commander went back to the well and fired left for his second-kick from the spot sewing up the victory with 10 minutes on the clock.
“I have my routine that I do for every penalty and it’s worked for me all year, I’ve been 100 per cent all year,” Reid said. “It’s awesome (to win). This was my last year and it feels great.”
Not so much for the visitors, who despite the adversity poured it on in the final moments with Simon Leslie, Coyles and Barwich each threatening goal before the dreaded final whistle struck.
“It wasn’t just down to the penalties,” said Leslie. “We had many chances we couldn’t put away. As a team we could have done better, but we had a great season.
“It gives us confidence going into next year. We have the ability to get into the finals, I think it’s just the extra push we need.”
The Knight posted a perfect 2-0 mark in round-robin in shutting out Pool A counterparts Strathmore by a 5-0 score and outlasted Cochrane by a 2-0 score with just 10-men.
The Foothills Falcons finished at the bottom of Pool B with an 0-3 record, sustaining a 4-0 loss to the Springbank Phoenix, 3-0 shutout to Canmore and 4-1 drubbing at the hands of the George McDougall Mustangs.
As the top-seed in Pool A, the Knights avoided the powerhouse Canmore side in the crossover in the semifinal and instead squared off with George McDougall.
HTA would reign supreme 3-1 with Leslie scoring a pair and McCarthy tipping home a late insurance-marker. Cochrane upset Canmore 2-0 in the other semifinal.
“We went in pretty determined and pretty confident because we knew we had beat them before and down players,” Anderson said. “We knew it was more than possible and I think that’s why it also hurts so much.”