Algonquin Thunder has the fourth best men’s soccer club in the CCAA after falling 3-2 to the Capilano Blues in the bronze medal match on Nov. 12.
The fourth place finish is one position higher than where they ranked heading into nationals as they started with the fifth seed.
The Blues sealed the Thunder’s fate at the 87th minute when the game winning goal was scored off an indirect kick.
The bronze medal match up looked like it was heading to extra-time when Algonquin midfielder, Alex Asmis, scored in the 84th minute to tie the game 2-2.
Asmis noted that playing from behind changed the outcome for this year at nationals.
“The difference between this year and others is that we started our games off slow,” said Asmis after the bronze medal game.
And that was true for their bronze medal matchup against the Blues as Capilano scored less than four minutes into the game and took a 2-0 lead by the 21st minute.
Trevor Turner was the other goal scorer for Algonquin to cut the lead to 2-1.
Thunder defender Anthony Legendre also said that he felt that the team started slow to the Blues but also made a crucial error at the end.
“Going into the game we knew these guys were going to be tough,” said Legendre after the bronze medal game. “They scored a lot of their goals in this tournament from set pieces and we prepared for it, but we came out a bit slow and we didn’t stick to what we said and we fell off two goals early. We didn’t give up we kept fighting, in the end it was 2-2 and we broke down again off of different set pieces, so I’m guessing just off our stupid mistakes, that’s why they scored most of their goals again.”
For Legendre it was his first year playing in the league and he noted how difficult nationals really were.
“It’s usually a grind and for rookies coming in it was pretty tough for us to cope with the national level,” said Legendre. “It was so different from our league (OCAA), some of the teams we played in our league was not nearly as good as the teams we played at nationals. But we still had a goal and it didn’t work out for us.”
When asked if he would Legendre would be back next year he responded “100 per cent.”
The Algonquin Thunder finished the event not only in fourth place but with a 2-2 record. They had to defeat the Holland Hurricanes in the bronze semi-final to advance to the final four after a loss in the championship final.
It was Asmis who took charge for the Thunder, scoring two goals which included the quickest goal scored at the CCAA championship at the two minute mark and a header goal in the 6-4 nail-biting victory over the Hurricanes on Nov. 11.
The other goal scorers for Algonquin were Ibrahim Soukary, Andres Sanchez, and Marco Natoli who was named the player of the game for the Thunder.
Thomas Hatch was in the active goalkeeper for Algonquin playing all 90 minutes against the Hurricanes after Dylan Tessier starting the first two games at the CCAA championship and all three matches at provincials. Tessier was put back into the net in the bronze medal game.
Head coach Mike Gagliano was happy with how the young Hatch handled the bronze semi-final game.
“He came in and he’s an 18-year old kid under the lights and it’s a big game for him to play in at nationals,” said Gagliano after their win against the Hurricanes. “But we wanted to give him those minutes and I thought he did really well. The thing with keepers is how do you rebound after you let in a goal? And I think his composure really showed and he’s learning a bit more about game management and I was impressed with his game overall.”
However it was Algonquin’s second game of the event that ended their dreams for redemption.
The players and coaching staff wanted to beat the Humber Hawks bad, and that wasn’t the case. The Thunder lost 8-0 to their league rival and the OCAA champions, Hawks, in the championship semi-final game on Nov. 10. Had Algonquin won that game they would have advanced to play for the CCAA gold medal against the Keyano Huskies.
“Humber came out all guns blazing and they were relentless in their attack,” said Thunder manager Jordan Pagani after their loss to Humber. “You obviously don’t want to ever lose like that let alone lose it all. It’s definitely humbling.”
Algonquin also won their first game of the tournament against the Dynamiques de Sainte-Foy 2-1 on Nov. 9. Goal scorers for the Thunder were player of the game Jemuel Paul and Ali Albadry who scored the game winner at the 67th minute.
“This year I thought we had the squad to do it,” said Thunder assistant coach Loui Legakis after the bronze medal game. “Sometimes it just doesn’t happen.”
But Legakis was happy with the play of the younger players and is excited for their future.
Among those leaving will be their team captain Toni El-Asmar.
“It’s always tough to lose our captain and our leader,” said Legakis. “But we have a very young team, but that’s a positive and we have a bright future.”
The Humber Hawks won the CCAA championship after defeating the hometown Keyano Huskies 2-0 on Nov. 12.