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This article was published 12/8/2017 (1629 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There will be no battle for gold for Manitoba’s male soccer team at the 2017 Canada Summer Games — but a shot at bronze still remains.
Despite a spirited effort and some quality scoring chances late, the host side suffered a crushing 1-0 defeat to Alberta in one of two semfinals Friday at the Ralph Cantafio Soccer Complex.
Playing under the lights in front of a huge crowd, the Manitoba teens showed plenty of jump and push back in the physical tilt with their western adversaries. But the finish simply wasn’t there.
Now, the Manitobans must gather themselves in time for today’s third-place game against Quebec. Game time is 4 p.m. at the complex on Waverley Street.
Alberta battles Ontario in the championship game at 7 p.m.
"I feel pretty devastated," midfielder Marques Scott said. "We had momentum and controlled the game through the middle. We definitely wanted that gold medal. This is rough.
"But we have to leave here with our heads high. We’ve got a big bronze-medal game now," Scott said.
Manitoba was on the defensive for much of the opening half. Under pressure, the squad conceded five corner kicks that, fortunately for them, did not turn into Alberta goals.
Shifty striker Anatoli Leveille had Manitoba’s best chance in the 15th minute, but sailed a hard drive wide.
Fifteen minutes later, diminutive, but speedy Alberta striker Abraham Dukuly found space down the left side and ripped a high boot that eluded Manitoba keeper Svyatoslav Artemenko for the game’s only goal.
Manitoba coach Tony Nocita said the team still has an opportunity to post the province’s best-ever result in male soccer at the Games, and that can’t be overlooked.
"The kids are disappointed. We set our goal on making it to the gold-medal game and we knew this moment might come," he said. "But, as I said to the guys — their heads were down, there were some tears — you want to be in this situation. That’s what you play for, the chance to be in big games. And we have another big one (Saturday).
"Sometimes, you win, sometimes you don’t. But you learn from them."
Nocita said the team studied Alberta game film intently and knew which players posed the most danger.
Dukuly was on that list.
"We keyed on him in all our preparations. We literally gifted them a goal," he said.
"But we said it was going to be a cat-and-mouse game, who was going to blink first. It just didn’t go our way."
Manitoba played Quebec to a scoreless draw on Wednesday. Manitoba’s Zachary Toupin said he and his teammates will be primed and ready for the critical rematch.
"We’re already focused on that game. We’ll put this (loss) behind us as a team and we’re ready to get the bronze medal that we deserve," he said. "We have a very special group. I know the soccer players in Winnipeg and this is the strongest group I’ve been a part of."
Ontario defeated Quebec 2-0 in a Friday afternoon semifinal on the strength of Monti Mohsen’s perfect penalty kick in the first half and Ryan Raposo’s insurance marker in the second.
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).