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A much different game, as Celtic defends their title

In the end, it would be the same two finalists that would take to the turf on the Monday of the Civic Holiday, contesting the championship encounter of the Sudbury Star Cup.

And when the dust settled, it would once again be the Toronto Celtic who would emerge victorious, edging Mississauga A.C. Diavoli 2-1 (5-4) on penalty kicks yesterday at the James Jerome Sports Complex.

Beyond that, the 2014 and 2015 finals were not all that similar.

Yes, both games featured scoreless ties at the half. And yes, Celtic did open the scoring early in the second half, just as they had twelve months earlier. But where the original featured a pair of late insurance markers from Celtic, easing their way to a 3-0 win, the sequel featured swings in momentum seldom seen at this event.

Following the ice-breaker by Mark Van Beek, a flicked header off a direct kick by teammate Henry Bloeman from fifty yards out, the Toronto crew looked well in command through much of the final forty minutes.

Van Beek would draw a foul, in the box, some ten minutes after opening the scoring, only to have captain Mike Bowerman drill his PK directly off the crossbar. Van Beek also enjoyed a glorious chance to double the advantage in the 63rd minute, sent in alone, but stymied on a great low save from tournament MVP Sakis Rizos.

Those missed opportunities would prove costly when Diavoli attacker Angelo Nero laid himself out, a foot or so off the surface of the turf, redirecting a low header past Celtic keeper Fabrice Kabongo with roughly ten minutes to play.

It was the third straight game in which Mississauga, a four-time tournament champion, would net a key goal late in a contest. After three exhausting days of soccer, the teams would go directly to penalty kicks, where Diavoli snatched a 3-0 lead.

Slobodan Krstic, Geoffrey Borghmann and Chris Cauderwood all found the back of the net before Adrian Williams got one back for Celtic. With both teams now having two shooters each remaining, there was no margin of error for the defending champs.

Back to back saves by Kabongo were followed by tallies from Mitchell Duncan and Colin Keay, leaving the teams deadlocked at three goals apiece after the initial five kickers. Kabongo and Nero traded goals on the sixth attempts, before a Diavoli miss set the stage for Bloeman, who drilled home the game-winning goal for Celtic.

One of several newcomers to the championship team this year, Van Beek was thrilled with the chance to join his mates in defending the crown that was captured by the 2014 edition of the team.

"We're #1 in our league back home," noted Van Beek, who has suited up alongside Bloeman for each of the past four years. "We're a little younger than last year, a little bit fitter, and we move the ball around nicely."

"There's three days of soccer up here, so that's always fun," Van Beek continued. "The people that run this tournament are incredible, and our coach has come up with other teams for much of the past ten years."

While the Sudbury sioccer faithful may not have been all that familiar with players on the first and second place teams, the same could not be said for the gents on the pitch. "A lot of us have played with a lot of their players in the past," said Van Beek.

"A.C. Diavoli used to be in our league, two years ago, but have since dropped down." If the game was marked by shifts in momentum, the weather followed suit, with the final few minutes of the opening half featuring a torential downpour, only to see the sun peaking out midway through the second half.

That break in the weather played a part in the opening goal of the game. "We have six total set plays," said Van Beek. "The storm had just passed, so there was no wind. We got the ball in the air. It was just a cluster, and thankfully, I was just in the right spot at the right time."

"I heard the goalie right behind me, so I gave it a little flick, and over the head she goes." Teammate Joe Vaz captured the tournament leading scorer trophy, netting six goals in as many games. Following is a breakdown of the scores and goal scorers from the 2015 tournament:

North Bay Dragons 3 (Neil Van de Walle-2, Chris Anderson
Sudbury All-Stars 1 (Bobby McKinty)

Croatia Adria 2 (Marco Armiento, Joel Cropp)
Soo Portuguese U21 1 (Brett Lewis)

Toronto Celtic 4 (Joe Vaz-2, Mike Bowerman, Henry Bloeman)
S.C. Italia 0

Mississauga A.C. Diavoli 1 (Christina Da Silva)
Sudbury GSSC U21 Impact 0

Stack FC 3 (Rodessa Boucher-2, Tylr St Denis)
Sudbury All-Stars 1 (Adam Ali)

Croatia Adria 2 (Marcello Tantalo, Daniel Radu)
Wexford Hi-Profile 0

North Bay Dragons 3 (Zach Cameron, Jeam-Michel Paulin, Nathan Zak)
S.C. Italia 0

Mississauga A.C. Diavoli 0
Soo Portuguese U21 0

Toronto Celtic 4 (Joe Vaz-2, Adrien Williams, Mark Van Beek)
Stack FC 0

Wexford Hi-Profile 2 (Dieumerci Yuma, Carvalho Iago)
Sudbury GSSC U21 Impact 1 (Ahmed Bilgasam)

S.C. Italia 1 (Nico Borges)
Sudbury All-Stars 1 (Wolfgang Fellbaum)

Wexford Hi-Profile 5 (Maleik de Freitas-3, Dieumerci Yuma, Ryan Reid)
Soo Portuguese U21 1 (Nathan Briglio)

Toronto Celtic 1 (Mark Van Beek)
North Bay Dragons 1 (Brandon TeBrake)

Croatia Adria 2 (Joel Cropp, Daniel Radu)
Mississauga A.C. Diavoli 0

Stack FC 2 (Tyler St Denis, Brandon Paquette)
S.C. Italia 0

Sudbury GSSC U21 Impact 2 (Bruno Veloso, Ahmed Bilgasam)
Soo Portuguese U21 0

Toronto Celtic 2 (Joe Vaz, Mark Van Beek)
Sudbury All-Stars 0

Mississauga A.C. Diavoli 2 (Daniel Pinto, Jesse Assing)
Wexford Hi-Profile 1 (Maleik de Freitas)

North Bay Dragons 5 (Nathan Zak-3, Chris Anderson, Neil Van de Walle)
Stack FC 0

Sudbury GSSC U21 Impact 2 (Aaron Dent, Troy Charlebois)
Croatia Adria 0

Mississauga A.C. Diavoli 1 (Anthony Halm)
North Bay Dragons 0

Toronto Celtic 2 (Colin Keay, Joe Vaz)
Croatia Adria 0

Bronze Medal Game
North Bay Dragons 4 (Jean-Michel Paulin-2, Nathan Zak, Brandon TeBrake)
Croatia Adria 2 (Marcello Tantalo-2)

Gold Medal Game
Toronto Celtic 2 (Mark Van Beek, Henry Bloeman)
Mississauga A.C. Diavoli 1 (Angelo Nero)