Thrilling Title Matches Put Finishing Touch to Peninsula Cup Season
The final game of the 2008 Peninsula Cup was as unlikely as it was exciting. FC Barcelona Boys 4-5, who finished last in the regular season, scored a shootout victory over Manchester United to claim the division title and make Barcelona the top club in the Rockaway Champions League.
Two of Barcelona's three teams won their division title. The Girls 2-3 team went wire-to-wire; the Boys 4-5 team went from the outhouse to the penthouse.
After winning no regular season games, Barcelona's 4-5 boys swept through three rounds of playoffs. The championship game was great to watch with excellent passing, defense, ball control and goaltending from both teams. Barcelona scored in the first half.
Anthony Scotto crossed to Brian Ganun who scored a one touch in the corner of the net. In the second half Manchester tied it when Patrick Fiemer crossed to Ryan Hoffman who did a one touch and scored to bring the game into overtime. After two scoreless extra periods, Barcelona won the shootout for the crown.
The path to the Boys 4-5 finals was just as exciting for both Barcelona and Manchester. Manchester battled Milan in the semifinals. After a 1-1 first half, Milan came out strong in the second stanza with Jimmy Howard and Austin Sullivan taking charge of the offensive line to give Milan a 4-1 lead.
Manchester never gave up. Ethan Ruiz, John Scaccia and Brian Ostrander worked hard in midfield getting the ball to their forward line. Ryan Hoffman, Tom Lynch and Kevin McDonagh had the right moves to get past the halfbacks and defense to find Pat Fiemer at the 18, waiting to finish.
Fiemer didn't disappoint, scoring twice to finish his hat trick. Brain Ostrander scored the other goal for red-hot Manchester. Teamwork paid off along with determination. The score was tied at 4-4 after the final whistle. It was time for overtime.
Manchester's goalie Joe Moran did a fine job holding Manchester off in both overtimes. Manchester defenders Michael Tammaro, Chris Sammon, and goalie Aidan Morgan held Milan from getting a clear shot on goal.
It went to a shootout but remained tied after the first five shots. Sudden death followed. Ethan Ruiz was able to find the corner of the net for Manchester to get them in to the finals. Barcelona also advanced in a shootout over top seed Real Madrid.
The other FC Barcelona titlist is the Girls 2-3 team, which edged Celtic FC by a score of 3-1. Barcelona controlled the middle of the field with tremendous midfield play by Courtney "Too Cool" McCool, Meghan McGinn, Lindsay Deboer, Caleigh Casey, Emma Gross and Rose Fay. A picture perfect pass, from McGinn up the right wing to Maria Di Carlo, set up the first goal of the game for Katie Marquardt, making the score 1-0 and ending the first half.
A few moments into the second half, solid passes came from Nora Young to Liz Clarke and to Lindsay DeBoer. She was able to dribble and place the ball on the foot of Maria Di Carlo, who blasted a shot over the Celtic goalie making it 2-0. Celtic came back with great footwork by Kelly "Elbows" Santiago, who was able to make a solid pass to Lauren "Speedy" Marten. Taking the ball from midfield, she split three defenders and beat the solid goaltending of Keira Walsh to make it 2-1.
With time running out, the Barcelona team was able to gather one more push with a great pass from Carly McCann to Bella Grillo, who took the ball down the left wing and passed it to Courtney McCool.
She was able to get it to Katie Marquardt, who pushed in for her second goal of the game, making it 3-1 and sealed the deal for Barcelona.
Outstanding plays in the midfield by McCool and Nora Young kept Celtic from doing any damage. As usual, Meghan Gigliello and Hannah Nicholson stood their ground and made sure that only one goal would slip by the Barcelona goalie.
In a classic championship game match-up between the top two seeds in the Girls 6-8 grade division, AC Milan defeated Manchester United in an overtime thriller 2-1. The game was very tight from the start as the two teams were giving up little territory when Manchester United opened the scoring on a beautiful scoring play by Ciara Flynn at 10:00 minutes of the opening half. For the rest of the half the goaltenders and defenders didn't allow too many chances and Manchester United when into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
The game remained tight throughout the second half when Lisa Pulkoski scored to tie the game at 1-1 with just 15 minutes to go in regulation. As the game progressed it became obvious that it was going be tough to score again; because both team battled for every ball the rest of the game. As a result, it was no surprise that the game went into overtime with the score tied 1-1 at the end of regulation.
Then, just three minutes into the first overtime, Lisa Pulkoski netted a goal for AC Milan that gave them a precarious 2-1 lead. The rest of the game saw the action fast and furious as Manchester United tried to score the goal that would send the game to a shootout. When the whistle blew at the end of the second OT, AC Milan had earned its Peninsula Cup title.
Those who had a chance to watch the competition that took place on the field realized just how special the game was, and what a great way to end a terrific season.
HEADERS: Thank you to all of the coaches who took the extra time to contribute to the column and to The Wave for its support.... For St. Francis, CYO signups for the next school year take place this weekend in the small hall.... Sean Shevlin updated the league website (http://home.earthlink.net/ ~shevy62) to include the "pictures of the year".... See you in the fall. Enjoy the summer!