Timmins United Football Club forced a third and deciding game in the Timmins Men’s Soccer Club championship series by edging the Kapuskasing Longhorns 2-1 on penalty kicks Tuesday night.
The two sides certainly gave the fans at Timmins Regional Athletics and Soccer Complex their money’s worth, as regulation time failed to produce a winner and neither side could find the back of the net in the two 15-minute overtime sessions.
That set the stage for penalty kicks, with Timmins keeper Michael Beda proving to be the difference maker.
Beda got the home side off on the right foot when he stopped Kapuskasing captain Justin Renaud’s attempt.
Renaud opted to shoot for the bottom right corner, but Beda guessed correctly and made the save.
Chad Ringstead then buried his kick to the left of Kapuskasing keeper Ryan Minoletti to give Timmins a 1-0 advantage.
Stephan Bisson beat Beda to the keeper’s left to get Kapuskasing on the board, but Taylor Cooper drilled a shot to the top left corner to keep Timmins in front 2-1.
Beda then dove to his left to deny Kapuskasing’s Ralph Schmidt, while his teammate Alex Gauthier beat Minoletti to the keeper’s right to increase the Timmins advantage to 3-1.
Justin Prokopyk drilled a shot past Beda, even though the keeper had guessed the correct side, to keep the Longhorns’ hopes alive, but defensive specialist Scott Alexander drilled a shot to the right of Minoletti that found the back of the net, to give Timmins the victory.
“This is something we have been working for all season, to tie the series and have it go to a third game on Thursday night is everything we had hoped for,” Beda said.
“They had been beating us all season and I studied their lineup to see where they were probably going to take their kicks (in the penalty kicks).
“For the first couple of shooters I was able to guess correctly, whether I made the save or not.”
Timmins took a 1-0 lead during the first half of regulation play when Ringstead beat Minoletti at the 16-minute mark.
Kapuskasing got back on even terms at the 32-minute mark of the second half when Ryley Nadon was able to redirect Jean-Francois Renaud’s throw in past Beda.
Both teams had scoring chances in the two overtime periods, but Beda and Minoletti stood tall.
Beda was quick to give a lot of credit to the defenders playing in front of him for the Timmins success Tuesday night.
“We have been blessed with having the best defender in the league, Scott Alexander, and the rest of them are fantastic,” he said.
“Overall, we have an amazing defence. We were fortunate to have great support tonight.”
The Timmins keeper feels the key for victory on Thursday night will be to “get our bodies out.”
“Tonight our use of subs was very efficient,” Beda said.
“Game 1 in Kap we had just enough to play and I am not making excuses, but the subs, for sure, helped.
“We also have to stay focused. We are driven to dethrone them from winning their sixth title in a row.
“This win tonight gives us great momentum on home field.”
Timmins player coach John Elliott, who was not in uniform Tuesday, was also proud of what the team was able to accomplish.
“The first half we really came out strong and took it to them and we played great in extra time,” he said.
“(Getting on them) was definitely part of the game plan. We adjusted our formation for them a little bit to try and get a little more pressure on them. We made a few adjustments from the game on Sunday.”
Elliott was especially pleased with the play of Beda.
“He had a great game,” he said.
“There is a reason he was the keeper of the year in the league.”
After taking Game 1 of the series 3-0 in Kapuskasing on Sunday, Justin Renaud felt the reason his team lost Game 2 was simple.
“I think they deserved to win,” he said.
“You have to give them credit. They came out and they had their backs against the wall and they responded, so I give them all the credit.
“It’s always tough to lose on penalty kicks, but overall I think it was a good game tonight.
“We will be looking to bounce back on Thursday and play like we did in Game 1 and hopefully win the title again.”
The captain feels the key to victory in Game 3 will be to match the Timmins’ work ethic.
“They worked harder than us tonight and that’s why they deserved to win.”
Game 3 will be played at Timmins Regional Athletics and Soccer Complex on Thursday, starting at 7:30 p.m.