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This article was published 29/7/2018 (1157 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The FC Winnipeg Lions continue to climb the ranks as one of Manitoba's greatest soccer clubs.
The Lions beat Winnipeg Lucania 3-2 Saturday at the Ralph Cantafio Soccer Complex to win the men's provincial championship. The Lions have now won six provincial titles in seven years. However, this year's win didn't come easy, as Lucania led 2-0 at the half after goals from Amos Ganyea and Stuart Hodges.
But the Lions looked like a different team in the second half, as Tom Foderaro scored in the 54th minute to make it a one-goal game. Then substitute Go Kumagai tied things up by scoring in the 82nd minute. No extra time or penalty shootout was necessary, as less than 10 minutes later, Krzysztof Szulc scored the game winner in the 91st minute to complete the comeback.
"We didn’t really panic," said Tony Nocita, head coach of FC Winnipeg Lions, on facing a 2-0 deficit at half. "We’ve been in these moments too many times already over the past few years. At half-time, I told the guys that I’d be surprised if we didn’t score two or three goals in this half so let’s just get the first one. After we scored the first goal, they didn’t really have an answer for us."
With the win, Nocita, who has coached the team for the past seven years, and the Lions will represent Manitoba at the 2018 Toyota National Championships in Saskatoon. They will compete in Group B with the winning teams from Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Ontario, and Québec. The 10-team competition runs Oct. 3-8 at Umea Park.
The Lions will look to redeem themselves after a tough 1-0 loss in last year's national championship final to Western Halifax FC.
"We’re hoping for the same thing this year. We’d love to get back to the final," said Nocita on what he expects at this year's nationals. "Our goal is simply to go there and be our best and be as well prepared as we can. It’s five games in six days so it’s a real tough tournament. You got to have a deep bench and everybody playing well."
The Lions have now won the provincial title 11 times in total, fourth most in Manitoba soccer history. Winnipeg Lucania are one spot ahead with 12 provincial championships, Winnipeg United Weston won 13 titles from 1909-1963, while the Winnipeg Scottish won a record 14 times between 1914-1965.
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.