FC Winnipeg Lions win 11th Manitoba Cup provincial title

FC Winnipeg Lions came from behind to win the 2018 Manitoba Cup, their 11th provincial title and sixth in the past seven years. Man of the match Krzysztof Szulc scored the added-time winner as FC Winnipeg Lions won the 28 July men's final 3:2 over Winnipeg Lucania to qualify for the 2018 Toyota National Championships.

Down 0-2 after 45 minutes, FC Winnipeg Lions made some adjustments but kept to their game plan and let their experience lead them to victory. 

"We had hit the post and just couldn't make more of our opportunities in the first half," said head coach Tony Nocita. "After we got the equaliser, we just knew we would get the winner."

Tom Foderaro cut the lead in the 54th minute before substitute Go Kumagai scored the equaliser in the 82nd minute. Szulc scored the winner in the 91st minute. Lucania goals in the first half were scored by Amos Ganyea and Stuart Hodges.

"We started a bit slow, but credit to Lucania who took their chances in the first half. Our team didn't panic and getting that first goal was key for us. We picked up our game, had a lot more possession, and were more effective in the second half."

FC Winnipeg Lions' starting XI in the provincial final featured Sean Golden in goal, Domi Antonini at right back, Andrew Aitken (captain) and Adam Hajkowski at centre back, Aaron Hidalgo-Mazzei at left, Matt Appler and Tom Foderaro in the midfield, Anthony Lourenco and A.J. Naumiuk on the wings, Krzysztof Szulc as an attacking midfielder, and Brendan Rattai up front.

In the second half, coach Tony Nocita replaced Antonini and Lourence with Dan Keith and Go Kumagai (46'), Foderaro with Seifeddine Dhaoui, and Rattai with Marques Scott. Tevin Olivier-Job, Braeden Hidalgo-Mazzei, Moreno Alberti, Edin Kurbegovic, and Hugo Figueiredo did not feature while Zachary Harrison was unavailable through injury. 

FC Winnipeg Lions were national runners up in 2017, falling 0:1 to Western Halifax FC in the championship match. They were Canada Soccer Challenge Trophy winners back in 2002. With 11 provincial titles, FC Winnipeg Lions now trail Lucania SC by just one: they have 12 provincial titles along with national titles in 1987 and 2000. Only Winnipeg Scottish FC (14 provincial titles from 1914 to 1965 plus national titles in 1915, 1954 and 1962) and Winnipeg United Weston FC (13 provincial titles from 1909 to 1963 plus national titles in 1924 and 1926) have more.

At the 2018 Toyota National Championships in Saskatoon, FC Winnipeg Lions will compete in Group B alongside Newfoundland Labrador winners, Ontario winners, Northwest Territories winners (Yellowknife Yk Galaxy FC), and Québec winners. The 10-team competition runs from 3-9 October.

Canada Soccer’s Toyota National Championships serves as our nation’s premier amateur competition, with the 2018 edition featuring more than 600 clubs from across the country competing for a spot at one of three locations: the men’s Challenge Trophy and women’s Jubilee Trophy finals in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; the boys and girls U-17 Cup finals in Surrey, British Columbia; and the boys and girls U-15 Cup finals in Laval, Québec. The Toyota National Championships provide a meaningful soccer experience for host cities and participating teams, as well as the players, coaches, support staff, officials, and volunteers. These competitions are complimented by both the Futsal Canadian Championship and the Canadian Championship featuring Canada’s professional clubs.