Taggs take fifth-straight title in shootout squeaker

Mike Webb gave Taggs teammate Jorg Ruppenstein a good wedding gift during Sunday’s Borderland men’s soccer final–he took away the recent groom’s opportunity to attempt a shootout kick.
Instead, Webb fired a high shot over Nova goalkeeper Ryan Hampton to give Taggs a 3-1 goal lead to end the game and give them their fifth straight league title.
Paul Danku and Simeon Nussbaumer fooled Hampton on two low shots after Jeff Campbell missed Taggs’ first attempt.
Taggs goalkeeper Greg Wiedenhoeft helped secure the lead by stoning Nova’s Andrew Hallikas and Sone Sonnasinh on identical low right shots. Alex Rosalina fired the ball wide to open the shootout while Mario Afrashtenfar was the only one to get one by “The Moose.”
Nova tied the game up in the last ten minutes when Hallikas found his way in front of the net to head the ball, capping off a flurry of chances in the second half.
Nova forward Bruce Thompson had a similar opportunity ten minutes earlier to tie the game, but left defender Mike Shute covered the crease as Wiedenhoeft was out of position–much to the dismay of the partisan Nova crowd on hand.
Webb opened the scoring early in the second half with a header of his own into the open right side of the net, but collided with Hampton and was down for a minute.
Taggs, considered end-to-end favourites, only had two more wins (13) than Nova (11) in regular season play, who were looking to break the champions four-year strangle hold since winning their last title in 1996.
“They’re always tough and have good players,” said Nova defender Sonnasinh. “Their forwards are pretty fast.”
Webb gave credit to Nova for jumping on his team, the majority of which had celebrated Ruppenstein’s wedding the night before.
“I wasn’t surprised [Nova came on strong]. I think we definitely expected it,” he said. “They knew Jorg was getting married the day before.”
Nova had problems moving the ball upfield, in large part to the absence of midfielder and co-leading scorer Steve Keesic.
“Even though we missed him we played very well,” said Sonnasinh. “I’m very happy with how we did.”
Webb said Taggs had those problems as well, missing their key ball handler, Josiah Morris.
“You could notice [Keesic and Morris] weren’t there. Both teams had a hard time controlling the midfield,” he noted. “The ball lacked the control in there.
“Overall, both teams lacked the scoring chances. But both teams had two aggressive keepers making it hard to score out there,” he added.
Also the league organizer, Webb was pleased how they wrapped up their season before they lost more players to out of town schools and jobs.
“There were four substitutes for Nova and two for us,” he said. “So I’m happy things came together smoothly.”
In related news, two teams of league players, both men and women, will be making the trip east to Thunder Bay this weekend for the annual Labour Day tournament there.