By Dan Plouffe
West Ottawa 5 – Cumberland 1
The West Ottawa Warriors finished off the final chapter of their storybook run in East Region Cup play on Sunday, Sept. 18 as they downed Cumberland United 5-1 to take the under-14 boys’ soccer title at Ben Franklin Park.
“We’re extremely happy for the boys,” says Warriors coach Mark Dehler, whose former Level 4 group went 5-7 in their first Level 3 league season and avoided relegation by only two points. “They went through some dips in form, but really came back hard the last five or six games. They’ve worked hard all season and this is the evidence of that.”
Troy Valters netted the hat trick in the final for West Ottawa, while Jeremy Aweya and Alexander Sorrini also scored. It was a dream finish for the Warriors, although their big piece of magic came three weeks earlier when they toppled East Region Soccer League division-champion Ottawa South United 2-1 in the semi-final round.
“It’s a nice present for us to finish with a Cup,” adds Cuneyt Kavaslar, also a West Ottawa coach. “(Level 3) was much more challenging for us, but overall, it was a perfect season.”
Cumberland Cobras coach Jean Pamphile couldn’t find much to complain about either in his team’s silver medal, especially considering they began the season with three consecutive losses.
“It’s hard to motivate your guys, but you have to tell them that something good’s going to come from it,” says Pamphile, who frequently repeats the message to his players that losses allow them to learn. “We got our wins in, got our feet back onto the pitch, and before we knew it, we were performing well in tournaments, in league play, and in the ER Cup. It was a great season.”
Ram Kumarakuladervan scored Cumberland’s lone goal, and then stuck around for several minutes after the final game of the season to talk strategy with his coach, looking forward already to making improvements for the start of the next soccer campaign.
“I encourage them to be critical of the game,” notes Pamphile, whose squad knocked off Nepean City and a pair of Gloucester rivals en route to the Cup final. “Especially at a young age, if they can understand certain things now, by the time they’re 16, 17 or 18, they’ve already got not only a feel for the game but also a greater understanding of different perspectives on the game.”
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