Teams: Toronto FC, Fiorentina, Barša
Vancouver Whitecaps beat New Jersey; Crowned W-League Champions
Sunday, August 08, 2004
After more than 110 minutes of play, the Vancouver Whitecaps were officially crowned the North American W-League Soccer champions.
The Whitecaps and New Jersey Wildcats played to a 0-0 draw after regulation and two 15 minute halves and were forced to decide things with penalty kicks. The Whitecaps held the advantage four goals to two. Vancouver's Randee Hermus was named the championship's most valuable player.
With the win, the Whitecaps became the first Canadian team to win the championship.
"We were told before the game that if we won we would be the first Canadian team to win the championship," said Vancouver's Kara Lang. "That really gave us motivation."
The Whitecaps came into the championship at Ottawa's Keith Harris Stadium as winners of the Western Conference with a 13-0-1 record, while the Wildcats, winners of the Northern Conference, had a perfect 14-0-0 record.
Both teams were extremely well matched which made for a well-balanced game.
It became evident early on that this could be headed for extra time as neither team allowed any dangerous scoring chances and on the few that did take place both keepers were perfect.
In the end Vancouver's Erin McLeod prevailed as she made two out of four saves in the shootout, while Amanda Brown gave up four.
"Erin was outstanding," said Whitecaps coach Chris Bennett. "We've got a whole team of outstanding players and she's one of them."
The Whitecaps held a 3-2 advantage in penalty kicks when strangely enough it was McLeod's turn to kick. Her scoring sealed the victory.
"Just before the shootout Chris (Bennett) told me I was kicking fourth," said McLeod. "Thankfully I wasn't really keeping track of the score and I didn't realize my goal was the winner until after it went in."
While the Wildcats were pleased with their performance coach Charlie Naimo felt his team was short-changed.
"From my perspective we were the better side," said Naimo. "They played well, but I thought we deserved to win, but that's my perspective."
Earlier in the day the Ottawa Fury defeated the Chicago Cobras 1-0 for the bronze medal.
Amy Vermuelen scored the winning goal at the 11th minute as she scored on a cross from Leah Robinson.
"I just wanted to make contact," said Vermuelen. "I put a shot on net and it went in far post."
After losing to the Wildcats in the semifinals the Fury were determined to finish their season on a winning note.
"We weren't going to settle," said Kelly Parker. "It's a little bit of vindication. We have higher standards, but I think we played with a lot of heart and came out with a result we liked."
The Fury feel they are one step closer to achieving their goal and are already looking forward to next season.
"The objective for this team is to win a championship," said Fury coach Frank Lofranco. "This is a team of winners. I'm really happy with the finish, with the win. We didn't want to be in the consolation final, but that was the cards we were dealt."