For the Pali Blues, their first loss of the season came in a flash. But, for the Ottawa Fury, the win was 13 years in the making.
On Sunday, the Fury won their first-ever W-League championship, defeating Pali in penalty kicks 4-3 at the Algonquin College Soccer Complex in Ottawa, Ontario.
Pali had taken an early lead with a goal by Nikki Washington in the second minute of the game. After holding that lead through regulation time and with all three minutes of extra time elapsed, it certainly looked like Pali had their third championship in the bag.
But, Ottawa won a free kick, and on what looked like the last play of the game, they took full advantage of it. Lisa-Marie Woods sent a bullet at Pali goalkeeper Anna Picarelli, and when she knocked it down, Ashley Seal was there for the rebound. Seal punched the ball into the goal to tie the game at 1-1 and send it into overtime.
After two scoreless overtime periods, the match went to penalty kicks.
Taylor Lytle converted for Pali, as did Courtney Wetzel for Ottawa. The Fury jumped ahead 2-1 after the shot by Pali’s Whitney Engen was saved by Ottawa goalkeeper Jasmine Phillips and Seal converted. Mariah Nogueria’s shot for Pali was also saved and Woods converted for a 3-1 Fury lead.
Sarah Huffman struck a nice shot for Pali to close the gap to 3-2. Katie Ryan stepped up for the Ottawa win, but hit the post, keeping Pali alive. Liz Bogus made her shot to knot it at 3-3, but Ottawa had one shot left. Kelly Conheeney put her shot away for the championship win.
Pali technically finished the season undefeated, though Sunday’s result in Ottawa will carry all the pain of a loss.
For Ottawa, the championship comes after nine-straight division titles, with the Fury making three previous appearances in the W-League final.
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