After finishing atop the Men’s Nova Scotia Soccer League, Suburban FC went in against Halifax Dunbrack Tuesday evening with all the confidence in the world.
The match pitted outstanding soccer talent Mesut Mert, League MVP and goals leader, against a stingy Dunbrack defence that has allowed just seven goals all season and backstopped by an outstanding keeper in Ben Ur, who finished the regular season with 10 clean sheets.
First Half Recap
The opening twenty minutes were cagey and both teams probed the defensive lines looking for breaks, the only bright spot was a brilliant ball played in by Mert but keeper Ur was quick off his line to break up the run of play.
The deadlock was broken in the 21st minute when Jon Cordoba broke away, showing off his speed and the striker’s shot blasted right through keeper Hogg who got a piece of the ball but just couldn’t keep it out of the net.
The goal spurred both teams on and the pace of play picked up, with Mesut Mert coming right back down the field and scoring just more than a minute later. Mert clear on goal used his agility and skill to weave around keeper Ur and calmly placing the ball in the back of the net.
The game continued to go back and forth, with not much difference between the both sides. However, it was once again Dunbrack to break the deadlock. In the 35th minute Alex Cordoba put Ryan Devereaux free past the last defenders and he blasted a shot past a helpless Hogg to put the score to 2-1.
In similar fashion Suburban FC broke quickly to respond, but this time Dunbrack covered well and kept their slim one goal lead after strong defensive play.
Dunbrack made the first substitutions of the game in the 38th minute, taking Peter Garonis out and throwing Ahmed Negahban into the mix. Followed up shortly it was Marvin Okello coming off due to injury in the 41st minute, meanwhile the coaching staff of Suburban FC took issue with the delay in allowing a substation and berated the fourth official.
With the rain pouring down Halifax Dunbrack got another excellent opportunity from a free kick with Jon Cordoba forcing a brilliant save from keeper Hogg, and then another shot came near from J. Cordoba.
The game looked destined to be a 2-1 score lineat halftime but Suburban FC upset the storyline when Ian Greedy struck a fantastic strike past the Ur and into the upper left corner just below the woodwork. With that wonderful strike from the Greedy, the game was deadlocked at two goals apiece at halftime.
At half time it was clear that the raw pace of Jon Cordoba was causing issues for the Suburban FC defence, unable to keep up with the speedy striker, with player/coach Mesut Mert saying that the team was giving the striker too much space.
Second Half Recap
The game was played at a much slower pace for the start of the second half, with both teams playing more cautiously and not wanting to concede the next goal in the deadlocked match.
The only action in the first twenty minutes of the second half was a pair of nasty challenges on Dunbrack players Shawn Kodejs and Jon Cordoba, with the Dunbrack star in obvious discomfort after the challenge.
In the 75th minute Dunbrack were given another set-piece in a dangerous area, but were unable to convert an opportunity with a foul being called against Kerry Weymann. Suburban FC came right back down the pitch and were awarded with their own set-piece just outside the Dunbrack box, however, it was Ben Ur getting down to his left to make a spectacular save off of the Mesut Mert strike.
Both teams seemed content with playing for extra time and neither side seemed the likelier to score the next goal. Both Mesut Mert and Jon Cordoba were quiet in the second half; neither stars able to make an impact for their teams.
The first half of extra-time started much the same, but just a few minutes in Chris Maceachern went down hard and remained on the ground for a few minutes as he received medical attention. The player was able to make it off the field under his own power, but would not return to action.
Thick fog covered the field at the extra-time interval and both teams sat back and let the play run, with neither side looking interested in scoring the go ahead goal.
Late drama in the second half of extra-time, with Suburban FC Captain Talal Al-Awaid being awarded a red card, giving Dunbrack ten minutes of play with a man advantage. It was ten-man Suburban FC who had the best chance of the final moments, with Ian Greedy coming close but skied a ball over the net.
In the dying moments and with Marvin Okello ready to come on as a substitute to be in the shootout, the ref blew for full-time and off to penalty kicks the game went, without a visibly upset Okello to shoot.
Penalty Shootout Recap
One of the cruellest moments in sports, the Penalty shootout but with Ben Ur in net Dunbrack had the clear advantage heading in.
Suburban FC Ian Greedy – SCORES – Off the post and past the keeper Ur
Halifax Dunbrack – Shawn Kodejs – SCORES – Sends keeper wrong way and score easily
Suburban FC – Second Shooter– MISSES – Ur chooses right side but Reddich misses net
Halifax Dunbrack Peter Garonis – SCORES – Blasted over the keeper to the right
Suburban FC – Jason Paul – SAVED – Ben Ur Dives left and saves
Halifax Dunbrack – Fourth Shooter– SCORES – Another shot hammered into the top right
Suburban FC – Fourth Shooter – SAVED – Ben Ur guesses right again and its another brilliant save!
*Due to technical difficulties, some names were missed during the action and will be filled in later.
As the Dunbrack players swarmed their keeper, it was clear that Ur was the hero for Halifax Dunbrack. The keeper came up with two gigantic saves in the shootout and he coolly booked Dunbrack’s place at Nationals.
Suburban FC will be left wondering `what if,` as they came so close to a Championship but had their dreams snuffed out in one swift, cruel moment.
Now League Champions, Halifax Dunbrack will get ready for Nationals where they will hope to add to their current silverware.