FURY WOMEN BEST IN NORTH AMERICA
Ottawa squad knocks off previously undefeated Pali Blues to win title
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.
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.
The Ottawa Fury had been beaten in its three previous attempts to win the W-League title.