The Ottawa TFC under-17 girls soccer team will be heading to P.E.I. to play in the national championship next month after beating the Vaughan Azzuri 1-0 to win the Ontario Cup on Sunday, becoming the third Cumberland United Soccer Club team to win the provincial championship in the last three years.
The TFC ladies played an outstanding game, creating a number of scoring chances in both the later stages of the first half and the middle section of the second half before Flavia Dubé redirected a pass from Devon Vermaire for the decisive goal in 71st minute of the 90-minute game.
| The Ottawa TFC team is made up of Chanelle Chaput, Riley Bonadie, Lauren Curran, Flavie Dubé, Emily Smith, Paige Robert Kylen Grant, Kylie Laframboise, Jessica Boyle, Melina Cane, Véronique Bolduc, Joelle Chackal, Rachel Vermaire, Amelia Thompson and Katelyn Brzozowski. The head coach is Pavel Cancura. The assistants are Duane Bonadie and Patrick Boyle and the team manager is Frances Smith.
Dubé is one of three 15-year-old players on the team who has played on all three Ontario Cup winning teams. She was on the Cumberland Cobras U13 Academy team in 2017 and the Cumberland Cobras U15 squad team last year. The other three-time winners are Riley Bonadie and Jessica Boyle.
It took TFC the better part of the first 25 minutes of the game for them to find their legs, but the momentum eventually shifted their way. Their first real scoring chance came in the 26th minute when Chanelle Chaput hit the crossbar from about 25 metres out. The rebound came to Bonadie whose shot just soared over the crossbar by a foot or so.
Three minutes later, a foul in the penalty area on a TFC free kick from just outside the box lead to the one and only penalty strike of the game. Unfortunately for TFC, the Vaughan keeper was equal to the task in stopping the shot to keep the score tied 0-0.
TFC would have another excellent scoring chance in the dying seconds of the first half, but Boyle's free kick was just off the mark and sailed over the crossbar.
The second half started the same way the first half did with Vaughan taking the play to a tentative TFC side, but Ottawa's back line stymied everything the home team threw at them, as it did the entire game. In fact, Vaughan's scoring chances were few and far between and whenever the ball did get threw to TFC's keeper Paige Robert, she was in position to stop it including a pair of diving saves.
By the 20th minute of the second half, the TFC offense was in full stride as it was clear their forwards were much quicker than Vaughan's defenders.
Ottawa's speed would create a number of scoring chances in the second half. Boyle raced around her mark in the 65th minute of the game only to have her scoring attempt stopped thanks to an excellent diving save by the Vaughan keeper.
Two minutes later Chaput was robbed of a sure goal by a desperate Vaughan defender who turned keeper in deflecting the shot wide of the net.
Ottawa TFC kept up the pressure as the play went on, creating another excellent chance in the 71st minutes when Vermaire and Dubé both came close to scoring on the same play before the Vaughan keeper managed to smother the loose ball.
The save only delayed the inevitable, however, as Dubé would score the eventual game winner on a cross from Vermaire in the 81st minute that deflected off a Vaughan defender who came back to try and help her keeper.
After a few tense moments in the final nine minutes of regulation and five excruciating minutes of injury time, the final whistle blew and the TFC girls could finally celebrate their historic win.
After the game, the club's general manager and head coach, Pavel Cancura, praised his players, who span three age groups, for coming together and forming a cohesive unit throughout the season.
"So proud of these girls. They're home grown and they've all come through the club," said Cancura. "It's such a special group. Before the year we put three teams into one with the three age groups and it's not an easy thing. As much as their a talented group of players, they still have to come together and play as a team. And the way they've lead each other and the atmosphere is the best I've ever seen as a coach."
In a post game interview, co-captain Lauren Curran echoed her coaches comments and added some of her own.
"I'm very happy to have all these girls beside me, winning this, it's great," said Curran. "Everyone was very confident going into it. We believed in each other and we knew we could win if we played together as a team."
The girls on the team are a mix of French and English and go to several different high schools in the area including St. Peter, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Cairine Wilson, Béatrice-Desloges and Gisele-Lalonde.
The fact that Ottawa TFC has won the Ontario Cups is a rare enough feat in itself. Since 1976, only two other girls teams beside the Cumberland Cobras have won the coveted trophy -- South Nepean United (U19) in 2001 and
Ottawa South United (U13) in 2013. And only two male teams have accomplished the feat -- Ottawa International (U17) in 2002 and Ottawa South United (U13) in 2015.
Cumberland United has now won the Ontario Cup three times in three years, which says a lot about the club and its developmental program under the leadership of its general manager and technical director Pavel Cancura, who also happens to be the head coach of the U17 girls team.
This is the first championship Cumberland United has won since they became affiliated with the Toronto FC Academy program last spring to form Ottawa TFC which has since been given national club status by Soccer Canada.
The U17 team will now compete in the Toyota National Championships which will take place in Charlottetown, P.E.I. from Oct. 9-14.
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