Just two championship banners that would remain in the hands of the host club - there's no denying that the draw for the annual Sudbury Panhellenic Soccer Tournament is getting tougher with every passing year. The three day, 84-team competition closed out play early Sunday evening with the Men's U-21 final, a matchup ensured of providing local bragging rights.
Sudbury Athletic would battle Panhellenic Kronos United in a game that required overtime to settle matters as Brian Hennessy finally solves Athletic keeper Michael Laplante early in the second O/T session, lifting Panhellenic past their regional rivals 1-0.
A fairly non-descript first half gives way to more open play through the second thirty minute session, with United Kronos enjoying an edge when it came to both ball possession and quality scoring chances. Just three minutes into the 2nd half, Tomi Pollard plays a great through ball that skips past Hennessy as the game remains scoreless.
The game remained scrambly at times, with Panhellenic defender Alex St Laurent making a nice slide tackle to break up a 3 on 1 that could have easily put Sudbury Athletic on the board. Near the ten minute mark, Panhellenic continues to apply pressure when a direct kick from Chad Ringstead creates a scramble in the box that is eventually turned away by the Athletic.
The eventual Silver medallist narrowly missed on their best chance of the day when defender Mathieu Dugas-Ruest works his way deep along the left flank and sails a perfect cross that Rod Boucher heads past the outstretched arms of netminder Thomas Guscott and just over the crossbar.
The final few minutes of regulation time allow Laplante to showcase his natural athleticism, making a pair of great saves, including turning aside Laurentian Voyageur midfielder Owen Montpellier in tight. The teams trade decent scoring opportunities through the first ten minute overtime segment before Hennessy gathers a ball in close and finds the far left corner as the sun sets on another great tournament for local organizers.
The Panhellenic Lightning U-17 girls earned the honours of the remaining local hopeful to walk away with a championship banner, edging Paris F.C. for a second straight day. Kea Koutsoutkis and Brigitte Lamothe tallied for the Lightning, who slipped past Paris 2-1 Sunday at Delki Dozzi after blanking the same opponent 1-0 late Saturday afternoon.
The round robin encounter sees Teghan Persi find a small hole to score the only goal of the contest, with keeper Kaitlyn Matson picking up the shutout for coach Joe Persi and company. The Valley East U-18 Boys, a team comprised of a handful of players with previous competitive experience thrown together to round out the draw for this event, just missed making it a troika of local teams winning Gold.
In fact, Valley East and South Simcoe United hooked up in what have well been the most exciting final Sunday afternoon, a game which featured a number of incredible shifts in momentum. With United having edged the Valley 1-0 in round robin play, this encounter promised to be a close one, and certainly did not disapoint.
The locals open the scoring in the opening half when central defender Chris Hannon, a steadying force on the back line throughout the afternoon, sends a direct kick from near midfield into the Simcoe box area. A couple of bounces later and the ball squirts loose to Cruz Stevenson who makes no mistake in opening the scoring.
While South Simcoe would take it to the Valley through clear stretches of play, quality chances were kept to a minimum. And when they did arise, Valley East goaltender Cameron Desjardins was equal to the challenge. The score remains 1-0 into the game's latter stages when Simcoe converts on a penalty kick with no time remaining as Graeme Smienk heads a ball that barely eludes Desjardins, prolonging the drama of the U-18 final an extra twenty minutes, and then some.
The late goal throws a charge into the Southern Ontario lads, who grab a 2-1 advantage early in the second half. A nifty passing play in tight is finished nicely when James Spilsbury drills home what would appear to be the game-winning goal. But turn about is fair play, in this affair, and with the clock ticking down to the final minute of overtime, Nick Guzzo draws the Valley even. much to the astonishment of the gathered crowd.
One of just two finals to be decided in penalty kicks, this one clearly favours the South Simcoe side who compete together throughout the summer. Josh Harkins and keeper Cameron Desjardins connect on their attempts in the shootout, but it's not nearly enough as the visitors convert on three of four to pick up the win.
Inside the parameters of the Laurentian University track, the Valley East U-12 ladies fall just short in their bid for a championship banner, losing a 2-1 decision to the Bradford Eagles. The visitors, undefeated in Level 4 CGSL play this summer, received a two-goal effort from Giulia Geraci in upending the Valley, with Mia Tullio countering with the only goal in a losing cause.
Following are some of the remaining championship final results as the 12th edition of the popular youth soccer tournament wrapped up on Sunday:U-11 Girls
NWOSC (London) 2 Sault Civcs 0
South Simcoe United 1 North Bay Select Vipers 0
Darlington Wanderers 1 Barrie Spirit "B" 0
Sault Civics 6 Valley East Vipers 0
Bradford Eagles 3 Sault Civics 1
Sault Civics 5 Bradford Eagles 0
North Bay Jets 4 Sault Civics 0
Collingwood United 2 Sudbury Athletic 0
North Bay Stingers 1 Paris F.C. 0
NBay Century 21 United 1 Sault Civics 0
Bradford Eagles 1 Sudbury Italia Flyers 0
Gloucester Hornets 1 Panhellenic Power 0