The ever-reliable Matthew Alfonzetti and Michel Muro led the attack for the Laval eleven. Goalkeeper David Toth was full measure for the shutout. « We wanted to score early, and we did, notching a goal in the 25th minute, » said coach Abdennour Amirouche. « We continued to come on strong, especially after a Bourassa player was red-carded near the end of the first half for interfering with Theo (Tzikalagias) who was on a breakaway. We hit the crossbar three times and had four clear paths to the goal, with the second goal coming late in the game after we missed several golden opportunities to double our lead. We have a well-oiled machine on attack, » the coach explained.
Marco-Rino Zomparelli’s lone goal won the semi-finals for the Conquerants, edging Laurentides 1-0. « We conserved our energies in the game. We could have easily won 4-0, » coach Amirouche pointed out.
According to the coach, the confidence builder for his team was their 2-1 conquest of the Lac Saint-Louis Lakers at the Catalogna Complex in quarter-final action. « It was after this game that we knew we could win. It was like a final because the Lakers were the top seed in the Quebec Elite Soccer League and the team to beat. After we beat the Lakers, no one was going to stop us. »
With their conquest of the 2008 Saputo Cup, the Conquérants earned the right to represent Quebec at the Canadian Championships for club sides, scheduled for Sydney, Nova Scotia October 8 to 13. « And to think that this team finished last in U-15 competition in 2007. We’ve come a long way since then. The enthusiasm and leadership of captain Karl Ouimette combined with the seven players from the U-14 team who gained experience in provincial and national competitions last year were instrumental in our success, » emphasized coach Amirouche.
The U-16 Conquérants become the second Laval team to qualify for a national tournament for club sides in the last two years, following in the footsteps of their Boys U-14 counterparts who represented Quebec at the 2007 Canadian Championships, greatly pleasing their numerous fans who backed them all the way.
The road ahead
In the next couple of weeks the Conquérants have their work cut out for them as they face a full schedule of action.
In addition to completing their regular-season schedule, they’ll be quite busy prepping for the nationals. At present, the team is ranked third in the standings of the Quebec Elite Soccer League. « Our goal wasn’t to finish first in the regular-season, it was to win the Saputo Cup and qualify for the Canadian Championships. We’ll be practicing three times a week and playing some friendly games before going to the nationals, » coach Amirouche maintains. « We don’t want to come back from the Canadian Championships with anything less than gold. Silver or bronze will not do. The players want gold. They believe they can do it, » he concluded.
The U-16 Laval Conquérants, winners of the 2008 Quebec Saputo AAA Cup and Quebec representatives in the 2008 Canadian Soccer Championships for club sides: Matthew Alfonzetti, Ricky Cobein, Jessy Colatrella, Éric Correia-Cordeiro, Fabio Damiano, Antoine Gosselin, Anthony-Rene Kebreau, Bertrand Landry, Michael Muro, Karl Ouimette, Michael Papanastasiou, Alessandro Riggi, Gezim Sahiti, Massimo Tartaglia, David Toth, Theodoros Tzikalagias, Luca Valsorda et Marco-Rino Zomparelli.