Challenge Trophy: London Marconi keeps its senior title

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london macoroni

Ontario and Alberta champions took two very different roads to get to the final. London Marconi, the reigning champions were never really threatened. Four straight clean sheets, timely goals when needed, all comfortable victories.

Edmonton Scottish drew their first match against Nova Scotia. They had scary late moments in their quarter and semi finals, nearly ending their tournament. They were resilient, relentless and always found a way to progress. It was a large crowd on hand for the grand finale to the 2015 Challenge Trophy. Swirling winds made for brisk October afternoon. The big men up front got things going for London Marconi. In the 18th minute Younan Samra swung in a corner kick finding Jovan Ivanovich. Ivanovich made no mistake nodding it home to give Marconi the early lead. A little bit later in the half Ivanovich nearly made it two, blasting a shot just wide of the goal. Scottish had a tough time creating scoring chances. That would be compliments to Marconi’s defensive wall of Alex Lewis, Denver Spearman, Tyler Hemming and Connor McFall. Clinical all week long they limited their opponents. Anything that did get through, keeper Mark Haynes was able to mop up. But this one was far from over. Anxious moments in the Scottish box nearly ended twice in a penalty kick but the referee waived off all Marconi claims. Scottish held a tight ship. Captain and defender Paul Hamilton along with defensive partner James Carr shut down London for the most part. Enter Scottish substitute Chris Devlin. Devlin made an instant impact, forcing himself in on goal and firing it by keeper Haynes. Wait a minute; the referee blew for the foul moments earlier rather than playing advantage. It was a tough break for Scottish. Shortly after, Scottish would be awarded a penalty kick. In the 82nd minute Samuel Lam buried it. What many felt was a makeup call by the official, the match was justly level. With both teams were working ever so hard leaving everything on the pitch this one needed to extra time. In the extra frame Frank Wong would be ejected for violent conduct. Scottish would play the remaining 15 minutes down a man. The feeling at the park was penalty kicks were going to be needed. London had won last year by that very method. Cue the controversy. Hand ball or no hand ball? It will be debated for years. Just inside the penalty area a ball would be struck with pace. It went off a Scottish player’s arm. Referee blew his whistle and pointed to the spot. London’s Ivanovich would make no mistake. Striking the ball past keeper Jay Vetsch. The final minutes played out. The end score Ontario 2-1 in extra time over Alberta. While many will agree, in the end the best team won the tournament, no one will disagree it was a difficult ending for Edmonton Scottish. Ivanovich on the winning goal: ‘I felt confident, it was kinda put on my shoulders the whole week, whether we had a penalty kick that I was going to be the one to take it. I was confident to where I was going to go. I struck it well.’Ivanovich on his feelings on winning the national championship: ‘Speechless. It’s the most difficult tournament to win in Canada. No words can really describe what’s going through my head right now.’Ivanovich on his teammates: ‘I can’t speak highly enough about these guys, group of individuals that are just amazing on and off the pitch. We gel so well, we love to play for each other.’

Teck Finals Day results:
London Marconi (ON) 2-1 Edmonton Scottish (AB)
Estrella de Chile (BC) 2-1 Edmonton Green & Gold (AB2)
Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) 1-2 Saskatchewan HUSA Alumni FC (SK)
Fredericton Picaroons (NB) 0-1 Rapides Chaudière-Ouest (QC)
PEI FC (PE) 6-2 Nova Scotia (NS)
Winnipeg Juventus (MB) 3-0 Northwest territories (TN)

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