Ponoka’s men’s soccer team FC Storm won the second consecutive championship of the Battle River Men’s Soccer League at the end of a game they almost didn’t play, earning bragging rights for another season.
Hosting United FC of Wetaskiwin, the only team to have defeated the Storm this season, Ponoka guys had to wait almost a full hour until the kick off whistle was blown on Sunday, July 19. The league administrator who plays for the United FC apparently changed the scheduled start time of the game without informing his own teammates before starting his holidays, leaving a scheduling mess behind. With several United FC players unaware of the new start time of the game, and several not showing up even for the previously announced start time, Storm kept warming up in the hope that there would be a United FC team on the pitch at some point in the day. In the end, United FC could field a nine-men team, only to be defeated 6-3, but not without a serious fight.
At the beginning of the game, the younger and ambitious FC United started attacking the Storm net in earnest but the Ponoka team was quick to thwart the attacks and score in the first five minutes of the game through Christoph Dittmar from close range.
Ten minutes later Josh Simons scored by sending the ball to the United net on a short cross from Carmen Lyon. The visitors tried to stop the wave of attacks by the Storm, but could not find a lot of success.
With almost 20 players dressed for the game, Storm coach Lonny Behm used this advantage to frequently engage substitutes, keeping the players on the field fresh. FC United, on the other hand, having no substitutes, continued to struggle but did not falter.
In the 35th minute of the first half, Elzard Visscher scored once again for the Storm, but United FC responded within a minute with their first goal of the game. There was no other score in the first half, which ended 3-1 for the hosts.
Josh Simons scored once again five minutes into the second half, extending the hosts’ lead to three points, making their cushion safer. However. things were to change towards the middle of the second half.
In 20th minute, the referee awarded a penalty to the visitors, which was easily converted by the United striker, bringing the lead down to two points. Two minutes later, the United were awarded a second penalty, which appeared to lead to some discomfort among the Storm players. Although the penalty was saved by Storm goalie Wouter Opsteen, the Storm players continued to dispute some decisions of the referee, leading to a few yellow cards.
Three minutes after the penalty was saved, Eric Escheid scored once again for the Storm establishing the solid lead of three points once again, but FC United was not giving up: They scored another within 10 minutes, making the score 5-3 for the hosts.
In the 80th minute, the Storm were awarded a penalty when a United player touched the ball with his hand in his 18-yard box. Christoph Dittmar missed the penalty, but made up for it two minutes later by scoring from close range, sealing the final score 6-3.
With this result, Ponoka FC Storm grabbed the championship and raised the trophy in victory two weeks before the end of the regular season.
Storm will still play two away games before the league season officially ends.