Pharmasave holds off Manitou for soccer crown

Dan Falloon

With the nucleus of the three-time defending champion Domino’s team still intact, the newly-minted Manitou Forest Products crew (11-1-4 during the regular season) was looking for a “four-peat” in Borderland men’s soccer action Thursday evening at the St. Francis Sports Fields.
But Pharmasave (10-3-3 in the regular season), making its first trip to the final since winning it all in 2006, stood in the way.
Pharmasave opened up a 3-1 first-half lead on a header by Craig McTavish and a pair of long-distance goals from Jeff Campbell, then held on for a 3-2 victory and the title.
Chris Faragher and Mike Sande replied for Manitou.
Campbell’s first tally came off of a Manitou giveaway that he was able to blast into a far-reaching corner of the net.
“Tonight’s game was hard-fought,” said Campbell. “We got a couple lucky bounces that went in for us.
“They didn’t get their bounces.
“Our keeper [Mark Clifford] made some great saves towards the end of the game to seal the win for us,” he added.
“It could have been anyone’s game,” Campbell stressed. “We got the lucky bounces and we ended up winning.”
Campbell credited Manitou for putting up an excellent fight, but was glad his squad was able to eke out the win—thanks in no small part to Clifford’s performance between the pipes.
“The top two teams are that close in skilled players,” he lauded. “It turns out, it was Pharmasave’s year to take the championship back.
“Our goalie, he saved the game for us,” Campbell remarked.
“If he wasn’t there, I’m not sure we would have pulled this out.”
Players on the Manitou side agreed.
“There are a lot of ex-Muskie players on this team, and same with their team,” said Faragher.
“There’s a lot of talent on both teams,” echoed Manitou co-captain Andrew Sonnasinh.
Faragher was encouraged by his team’s “never-say-die” attitude as they buzzed around the Pharmasave net late in the game in hopes of netting the equalizer.
“That’s the beautiful thing about soccer. The ball can roll any way,” noted Faragher.
“The last 15 minutes, we had it around their net. We had it in their 18-yard box 80 percent of the time.
“They were in panic mode the last 15 minutes,” Faragher added. “They couldn’t get anything generated.
“That’s the way soccer is, though. It’s a great game that way.”
As well as Manitou played late in the game, it was some trouble early on that ultimately buried them.
Both of Campbell’s goals were on far shots that weren’t well-defended while McTavish opened Pharmasave’s scoring when he was able to break loose near the Manitou net and head in a cross.
“The first half, we just seemed unorganized,” admitted Sonnasinh. “They were playing really good.
“They got their chances. We got ours. More chances went in for them,” he reasoned.
“We let them shoot on the first couple goals,” Faragher agreed.
Still, the pair, who both missed the first half of the season, lauded their team for constantly being able to battle through absence as they also missed Tyler Barker for all but the final two games.
Barker was the team’s leading goal scorer in each of the last three championship seasons.
On the other hand, the players spread out the duties and the strategy worked, with five players tallying at least five times this season.
“It allowed room for all of our other rookies to step up,” noted Faragher.
“We have a lot of diversity,” echoed Sonnasinh.
“On a lot of teams, you’ll only find a couple goal scorers, but our team, we have about 10 goal scorers, so that was really one of our biggest strengths.
“It’s not just one dominant scorer. It’s everybody,” he stressed.
Ultimately, though, it was an off-field absence that was felt the most by Manitou. Coach Sone Sonnasinh was unable to attend the game, leaving Manitou without a mastermind on the sideline.
“Another key element that we were missing in this game was our coach,” said Andrew Sonnasinh.
“He runs our subs and organizes strategy, and without him, we wouldn’t have had such a great season,” he lauded.