FURY WOMEN BEST IN NORTH AMER­ICA

Ot­tawa squad knocks off pre­vi­ously un­de­feated Pali Blues to win ti­tle

Ottawa Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - DAR­REN DE­SAULNIERS

It took 13 years and four at­tempts at ti­tle games, but the Ot­tawa Fury women’s team is fi­nally the W-League cham­pion.

The Fury de­feated the pre­vi­ously un­de­feated Pali Blues 2-1 win on penalty kicks Sun­day af­ter­noon at the Al­go­nquin Col­lege Soc­cer Com­plex to win the cham­pi­onship, two days af­ter beat­ing the pre­vi­ously un­de­feated D.C. United women’s team in the semi­fi­nals. There were so many heroes for the Fury on Sun­day, and all sea­son for that mat­ter.

Af­ter sur­ren­der­ing a goal in the sec­ond minute to Nikki Wash­ing­ton, Jas­mine Phillips was stel­lar in the Ot­tawa goal for the next 118 min­utes and then made two saves dur­ing the penalty kicks.

Ash­ley Seal tied the game in in­jury time be­fore scor­ing dur­ing the penalty kicks. Melissa Busque was of­fi­cially cred­ited with the ty­ing goal to force ex­tra time and even­tual penal­ties, but Fury coach Dom Oliveri and his play­ers said it was Seal’s goal.

Kelly Con­heeney took the de­ci­sive penalty kick and buried her shot past Anna Maria Pi­carelli for a 4-3 ad­van­tage in the shootout to fi­nally give the Fury a ti­tle they had so fre­quently been de­nied.

“It’s my first year on the team and I’m one of the youngest play­ers, but I said I’ll take it,” Con­heeney said af­ter learn­ing Oliveri had se­lected her to take the fi­nal kick.

“I just jogged in there and it was the best feel­ing in the whole en­tire world. I didn’t have any tears be­cause I think I sweated them all out.”

For owner John Pugh, the vic­tory couldn’t have been sweeter af­ter so many years of ex­tremely suc­cess­ful reg­u­lar sea­sons but dis­ap­point­ment in the playoffs.

“There’s no bet­ter feel­ing and I guess it feels even bet­ter be­cause of what we’ve gone through to ac­tu­ally make it to this point,” Pugh said.

“We’ll take the win on penalty kicks, thank you very much. I’m feel­ing pretty good and I think the city should feel pretty good. It’s not of­ten we win a North Amer­i­can cham­pi­onship. I want to thank all the fans for com­ing out and re­ally sup­port­ing us and get­ting us through this.”

As happy as Pugh was, for­ward Mal­lory Outer­bridge was prob­a­bly hap­pier. Def­i­nitely no one was more re­lieved.

Af­ter Wash­ing­ton gave the Blues a 1-0 lead, the Fury had sev­eral chances to tie the game and sev­eral of those came off the foot of Outer­bridge.

In the 38th minute, Outer­bridge took a pass from LisaMarie Woods and was all alone in front of an open net, but she hit the post.

Outer­bridge would have had night­mares about that missed op­por­tu­nity, but it doesn’t mat­ter now thanks to the hero­ics of the sev­eral play­ers, start­ing with Seal

“I don’t know about hero­ics, I was just there to put the ball in the back of the net,” Seal said.

“It felt amaz­ing,” Seal said. “It was kind of a sur­real mo­ment and I was so happy it went in the back of the net and we could keep go­ing. It was a pretty good day.”

Just sec­onds af­ter that goal, the ref­eree blew the whis­tle for full time, at which point the teams played two score­less 15-minute halves be­fore the penalty kicks.

Court­ney Wet­zel, Seal, Woods and Co­heeney scored on their at­tempts. Katy Ryan hit the post with her at­tempt, but had she scored, that would have been the win­ner and Con­heeney wouldn’t even have had to shoot.

“As a ’ keeper, I don’t ex­pect to save any­thing in a PK shootout, if I do I get lucky,” said Pi­carelli, the W-League goal­tender of the year. “It’s un­for­tu­nate that this sea­son we didn’t put it all to­gether. All that work that we did up un­til now doesn’t mean any­thing if you don’t win in the fi­nal.”

Phillips said she was try­ing to show up Oliveri once the penalty kicks started and she did, mak­ing two saves.

“Dom joked be­fore and said I would save one. I said ‘What, only one?’ I just re­ally like to prove the guy wrong hon­estly.” Phillips said. “All year we said we’d take it kick­ing and scream­ing and we did.”

And it was worth the wait.

JANA CHYTILOVA, THE OT­TAWA CI­TI­ZEN

Fury play­ers cel­e­brate af­ter beat­ing the Pali Blues on penalty kicks Sun­day to claim the W-League ti­tle as North Amer­ica’s top women’s soc­cer team. View a photo gallery of the ac­tion and video from Al­go­nguin Col­lege Soc­cer Com­plex at OT­TAWAC­I­T­I­ZEN.COM.

JANA CHYTILOVA, THE OT­TAWA CI­TI­ZEN

The Ot­tawa Fury had been beaten in its three pre­vi­ous at­tempts to win the W-League ti­tle.

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