Edmonton Scottish SC capture elusive Challenge Trophy at St. John's 2016
Posted on 10 October 2016 in ↳ Challenge Trophy
Edmonton Scottish SC finally captured the Challenge Trophy as national champions. Three times runners up in their storied past, Edmonton Scottish SC won the title in St. John's, Newfoundland Labrador at the 2016 Sport Chek National Championships
The heroics came down to the very dying minutes when Steven Wheeler hit a ball that beat the defence and the otherwise impenetrable Beauport goalkeeper Mario Gerges. The 93rd minute winner was the only goal in Edmonton's 1:0 victory over Royal-Sélect Beauport at King George V Park on Teck Finals Day.
"We were very nervous in the first half, but this has been a season in which we haven't lost a game," said Edmonton Scottish SC coach Kevin Poissant after the 10 October win. "I don't know if it was anxiety of the disappointment of past losses in the final, but in the second half we just grabbed it by the throat and showed the bravery and the courage that you need to win."
Edmonton's defence was perfect throughout the entire competition, with no goals conceded in five matches. In the final, however, Jay Vetsch was injured in the first half and replaced by Francisco Wong before the start of the second half.
Vetsch was initially hurt midway through the first half, but continued to play and then made two terrific saves in the 31st and 34th minutes against Beauport. The first was a diving save on a Samuel Georget free kick; the second was another diving save on a Philippe Renaud attempt at the back post.
In the second half, it was Gerges' turn to make a big Beauport save on Edmonton's James Carr from inside the box in the 50th minute.
"We knew if we got our one good chance that we could put it in the back of the net and that's all you really need," said captain and tournament MVP Paul Hamilton. "We had a couple of chances that we felt like could have put us up in the first half, but their goalkeeper made a few big saves."
In the 59th minute, the game took an unexpected turn after Beauport's Jamel Berbèche was ejected after his second caution of the game.
"The sending off had an impact on Beauport, as did the elements (rain and wind)," said Poissant. "It was tough to play into the teeth of the wind (but) that certainly helped us out."
Just minutes from extra time, the breakthrough may have been more unexpected for some, but not for the 31-year old fireman Wheeler.
"I thought if I had the opportunity, I would make the most of it," said Wheeler. "I had a really good feeling and a couple of dreams last night, so I'm not surprised it happened.
"Chris Lemire put the ball in and (because) I've played with him for a long time, knew it was coming. I'm not surprised it came. I wasn't about to head it because their goalkeeper was too good, so he would have got that one. I figured I would try to give him something (with which) to deal."
As for inspiration, the team dedicated their championship to long-time Scottish SC manager Hamish Black, who was back home in Edmonton unable to travel this year to St. John's. Black has been dreaming to capture this title for a long time.
"It's unreal," said Wheeler. "I can't tell you how good it feels to go and do that for Hamish. I think for everyone here, we wanted to win this for him."
In the championship match, Edmonton's XI featured Jay Vetsch in goal, Michael McCormack at right back, captain Paul Hamilton and James Carr at centre back, Anoop Sahota at left back, Chris Kooy, John Pegg, and Chris Lemire in the midfield, Sam Lam as an attacking midfielder, and Dexter MacLachlan and Almir Gazic up front.
In the match, Nicky Reyes, Francisco Wong, Steven Wheeler, and Marcus Johnstone also saw action. On the bench, the winning team also featured Karim Broodhagen, Richard Klein, Christian Kosmin, Dave Rutledge, and injured Nicolas Gonzalez.
Sport Chek National Championships
Canada Soccer’s Sport Chek National Championships run 5-10 October 2016 in Moncton, New Brunswick, Lethbridge, Alberta, Vaughan, Ontario, and St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. At all age levels, the Sport Check National Championships provide a meaningful soccer experience for host cities and participating teams, as well as the players, coaches, support staff, officials, and volunteers.