THE CSL SEASON IN RETROSPECT – Part 3 – Vorkuta’s Shock Defeat
PICTURE: It was on Saturday, October 12, 2019 at the Ontario Soccer Centre ground that 2018 CSL champions FC Vorkuta was the first team to be eliminated from the 2019 post-season playoffs. It was a shock defeat by Kingsman SC, an expansion team that squeaked into the playoffs after finishing eighth of ten in the First Division standings at the end of the regular season. It was a stunned Vorkuta’s first loss in league and post-season playoffs in more than 12 months.
The penalty kick victory by Kingsman SC to knockout FC Vorkuta from the CSL Championship playoffs in the opening quarterfinal game was the shock result of the 2019 season. The match, played at Vorkuta’s home ground, eliminated a side poised to successfully defend its 2018 CSL Championship triumph after winning the 2019 First Division and Second Division regular season titles with ease. The First Division title win was particularly impressive with an 18-game unbeaten streak from start to finish. To advance in the playoffs appeared to be routine, and would put Vorkuta in a position to win all four titles, a first ever in the CSL.
The shock result was Vorkuta’s first defeat in league and post-season competition since September 1, 2018.
By contrast, Kingsman, a promising expansion club in the 10-team First Division, ended the regular season a disappointing eighth in the standings, which was the last spot to qualify for the post-season championship series. Prior to eliminating Vorkuta, Kingsman also lost its last four games of the regular season while conceding 17 goals in doing so. Any success in the playoffs appeared doubtful.
With two league titles, First and Second Divisions already won, Vorkuta GM Samad Kadirov was asked early October about the prospect of Vorkuta creating a new CSL record by winning the CSL Championship and CSL Second Division Championship to scoop up all four titles in one season ?
“Playoffs are completely different story. Of course, we are dreaming of winning both playoffs titles and winning 4 titles in the same season would be something unbelievable. We will try our best, we will fight from the first second of the game till the very last one. We sincerely hope that we will lift both playoffs trophies on October 26,” he said.
The early elimination of Vorkuta opened the door for any one of several teams to win the championship title and Scarborough, which had just three defeats in its 18-game First Division schedule to secure the runner-up position by seven points over nearest rivals, stood out as the likely candidate. Scarborough also held a reputation of being consistent in both regular season and post-season playoffs. Scarborough was also a finalist in the championship in 2017 and 2018, suffering narrow penalty kick defeats in both games.
At about 8.30 pm on Saturday, October 12, 2019, Vorkuta was the first team to be knocked out of the playoffs, losing on penalty kicks following a 2-2 tie at the end of extra time. Kingsman advanced, and Scarborough moved on to the semifinals with a result over CSC Mississauga in overtime. Waterloo eliminated Serbian White Eagles on penalty kicks and the fourth game was played the following day when Ukraine United advanced with a penalty kicks victory over Hamilton City.
Scarborough (4-2 over Kingsman) and Ukraine United (5-3 over Waterloo) won their semifinals to then meet in the final at Centennial Stadium in Etobicoke on October 26 Scarborough were crowned champions following the 2-0 victory.
Upcoming – THE CSL SEASON IN RETROSPECT – Part 4 – Times Worth Remembering.
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Club of Russian immigrants will perform in the higher league.
Oleg Lutkov, a well-known Ukrainian specialist, former mentor of Zaporizhzhya Metallurg and Kryvbas, continue his coaching career in Canada. The 50-year-old coach has headed the FC Vorkuta team.