They went into their semi-final match against Winfield hopeful they could win, but it was not to be as the Revelstoke Football Club, winner of this year’s Gibson Cup, was shot down 4-3 in Vernon after a heart-breaking second half on Wednesday.
“It was a tough loss for us in our semi-final match against Winfield,” Team Captain Sergio Spataro said today (Friday, Aug. 28). “We came out flying and scored two quick goals within 15 minutes. Winfield then scored 1 with 5 minutes to go in the first half.”
While the first half made it look as though the game, which was played at MacDonald Field in Vernon, belonged to Revelstoke, the second half told a different story.
“I think we all were worried about making a mistake or pushing up too far and giving them another scoring chance,” he said. “So we played conservatively and in the end that was our mistake. Winfield controlled the second half, but only because we let them.”
Spataro said Landon Fuscaldo made it a 3-1 for Revelstoke with about 20 minutes to go and the team sat back and attempted to “kill the clock.”
“With about 10 minutes to go Winfield snuck one by our goalie Travis Froehlich,” Spataro said. “With two minutes left in the game Winfield had a free kick awarded to them. From about 30 yards out, they floated it into the box. Our defensemen Nathan Evans and one of their players connected with the hardest 50/50 challenges I have seen, only to have the ball land at the feet of a Winfield player 10 yards from the goal. Tying it up with 1 minute to go. We then proceeded to penalty kicks.”
He said it took nine shooters to decide the winner. The final score was 4-3 (9-8 on penalty kicks) for Winfield.
Spataro was somewhat philosophical about the loss but he had some criticism for the way the playoffs were structured.
“I think any of the top five or six teams can beat each other on any given night,” he said. “It’s really a shame that it comes down to one game to decide the winner. But I guess that’s the playoffs and that’s how the league system works.”
The North Okanagan Soccer League should move away from that kind of system to one in which “you do a game at home and away and the aggregate winner moves on.
Meanwhile, the RFC’s nemesis Courvas of Salmon Arm — whom they had defeated in their division final — went on to beat the development team of the Whitecaps of Vernon 6-3. That irked Spataro.
“I think we had the tougher go in the playoffs, which makes no sense to me considering we were the best team all year,” he said. “In the quarter finals Courvas got to play the sixth-place team when we had to play the fifth ranked. And in the semis we had to play No. 4, Winfield, when Courvas got to play No. 7, the Whitecaps.
“We were the league champions and we should have played the lowest-ranked team throughout the playoffs. Furthermore, the semi-final game should be at the home town of the higher-ranked team which again would have been us.”
Spataro said the league seems to regard Revelstoke’s teams “like outcasts and instead of making all teams equal they do certain things to make it tougher on us and the Salmon Arm teams.”
Despite that, he acknowledged there were “no excuses for what happened.”
“We hadn’t let three goals in one game all year and it’s unfortunate it came during the semi finals,” Spataro said, adding that he wanted to thank all of the friends and fans who went to the RFC’s home and away games, League Commissioner Wayne Aasen of Vernon “who puts up with a lot of flack from all the teams” and “the girlfriends and wives who put up with games and practices three times a week for four months.”
“I still think we are the best team in the league and our Gibson Cup shows it,” he said.