FC Winnipeg Lions win 6th MSA Cup Championship

The FC Winnipeg Lions captured the Club's 6th MSA Cup Championship in 17 years, with a hard fought shootout victory over Hellas. The match was the Lions 3rd consecutive overtime MSA Cup final in 3 years.

The match saw the Lions take the lead on 3 occasions, surrendering the tying goal with 90 seconds remaining in the match.

The Lions went up early, with a 4th minute goal by Domi Antonini. Moments later Antonini would be denied by the Hellas goalkeeper, only to see Hellas equalize the match on a goal by Jorge Mendez.

The 1-1 first half score, would lead to a memorable 2nd half of play, which saw Lions midfielder AJ Naumiuk score twice only to be answered back on each occasion on goals by Hellas's Chris Musto and the game equalizer by Edin Kurbegovic.

Overtime provided no additional goals with the 120 minute match ending tied at 3-3.

The Lions would head to their second straight MSA Cup final shootout in 2 years, this time ending in victory for the Lions. Shootout goals by Adam Hajkowski, Moreno Alberti, Matt Appler, and Domi Antonini, and two big saves by veteran Lions goalkeeper Steve Sawatzky led to a Lions celebration and the MSA Cup title.

Free Kicks: Lions Striker Domi Antonini was named the game MVP. AJ Naumiuk led the MSA Cup tournament with 10 goals in 5 matches. The Lions will participate in the 2012 BMO Championships from October 3-8, 2012 in Winnipeg. The Lions will attempt to win their 2nd National Championship, having won the 2002 Challenge Cup in Newfoundland. The Lions won the bronze when Manitoba last hosted the Senior Men's Club Nationals in 1996.

Sons of Italy North vs. South Hockey battle...Another Classic!

December 19, 2009
Before a near white out crowd at Century Arena, the saga continued.

At first glance it would appear that Team North evened the overall series at 2-2-1, with a 6-5 victory over Team South.

After going down 6-3, two quick goals by Team South (Domi and Frank) drew the game to within one, with 11 minutes to play. Despite numerous giveaways by veteran defenseman Tony Nocita, AJ Naumiuk kept the puck out of the North net over the final pressure filled minutes of the game to secure the North win which benefited from goals by the Sacramento brothers, Go Kumagai, et al. Team South goaltending duties were split between Steve Sawatzky and Andrew Aitken.

Or did the North win? In what seems to be a reasonable protest, which is now under review, Team North team member Michael Paluszek's eligibility as a Team North player is coming into question. It would appear that Paluszek has a South End address, and it was later confirmed by Ryan Dyck of Team North, that Paluszek was a member of the Team South at the Sons of Italy Golf Tournament during the summer. The committee reviewing the appeal is made up of one member, Tony Nocita. He will rule later in the week after completing his impartial review. (Knowing how unbiased Tony can be.....it would appear the Sons of Italy North vs. South Hockey Classic has seen both teams win 2, with the only tie a 4-4 draw taking place in 2008).

In the corner: Team South was short handed as veteran Nevin deKorompay was only able to play a couple shifts, but left the game due to flu symptoms - which he caught working in a Toronto Emergency Room. Graham Halford would have made his Team South debut, but due to a lower body injury was forced to coach Team South. He demonstrated confidence in giving some extra playing time to first time hockey player Oleg Andrushchyshyn. Showing great determination was Team South veteran Justin Parry who stayed in the match despite nearly losing his left eye during the second period of play. Rob Gail and Nolly Sanchez also missed the game for Team South and both of their hockey offensive prowess were certainly missed. Team North was without Jonathan Sturby with flu like symptoms and Ryan Dyck who missed the game for Team North as he thought the game was at Pioneer Arena.

Lions finish 5th with Victory

October 8, 2007
On a cool morning at St. Mary's University, The Sons of Italy Lions (Team Manitoba) defeated New Brunswick 2-0.

The first half was scoreless, and saw Lions forward Nolly Sanchez exited the match at 10 minutes with a lower body injury.

With 15 minutes remaining in the match, Lions midfielder Justin Legare received his second yellow of the match. With the game scoreless and Lions down to 10 men, the Lions substituted midfielder Domi Antonini back into the match in the 85th minute in preparation for penalty kicks.

At 90 minutes, Moreno Alberti sent a perfectly timed pass to a streaking Domi Antonini, who beat the charging New Brunswick goalkeeper, breaking the scoreless tie.

Moments later, Alberti attacked along the New Brunswick eighteen yard box, and found Adam Hajkowski at the far post, who finished on the opportunity.

The final score was 2-0 for Manitoba.

Corner Kicks: Lions Head Coach Larry Ladobruk, sat out the match, serving a 1 game suspension. Lions Assistant Manager Gerald Olin won his first National's match as the match replacement for coach Ladobruk. Lions captain Andrew Aitken missed the match serving a one game suspesion for three yellow cards in the tournament. Lions midfielder Matt Johnson sat out his second straight match with a lower body injury. Four players Domi Antonini (York University), Moreno Alberti (York University), Nevin deKorompay (University of Toronto), and Graeme MacMillan (University of Saskatchewan) each will return to CIS Soccer action this week. The Lions completed the tournament with 8 goals and 4 against. Newfoundland-Labrador won the bronze medal at the Canadian senior men's soccer club championship this morning with a 2-1 win over Nova Scotia (Halifax City Coldwell Banker) at Wickwire Field in Halifax. The Gold Medal Match saw Alberta defeat a tired looking B.C. team 5-0. The Manitoba women finished with a 3-2 win over Nova Scotia, to finish 5th in the tournament. The Lions completed the 2007 season capturing the MMSL Premier League Championship, the MSA Cup Championship, and a 5th place finish at the Hyundai Challenge Cup.

For complete details on the 2007 Championships in Halifax, please visit the official host website for the Canadian Senior Club 2007 National Championships

Heartbreak leads to Heartache in Halifax

October 7, 2007
The Sons of Italy Lions entered today's match versus B.C. needing a victory to secure a spot in the Hyundai Challenge Cup final in Halifax.

Lions midfielder Matt Appler opened the scoring off a corner kick in the 18th minute of the match. Appler received a Ryan Dyck corner kick, finishing beautifully to give the Lions a 1-0 lead.

Controversy ensued when both Ryan Dyck and Domi Antonini were taken down in the penalty area but failed to receive the penalty kick calls. Moments later, Lions striker Nolly Sanchez picked up a B.C. giveaway at the back, but was called offside as he head toward the B.C. net.

In the second half, the Lions came close to extending their lead when a Frank Buoncore shot was stopped by the B.C. goalkeeper, and the rebound was cleared off the line by a B.C. defender. Moments later Dominic Antonini was the next to be denied by the B.C. goalkeeper.

With the Lions defending the B.C. attack, a B.C. opportunity with 15 minutes remaining was narrowly shot wide of the Lions goal. But, with minutes remaining, Lions defender Tevin Olivier-Job was called for a hand ball in the penalty area while defending a B.C. corner kick. Lions goalkeeper Steve Sawatzky guessed correctly but could not get to the shot, and the B.C. club tied the match at 1-1.

With the Lions pressing for the much needed winner, B.C. scored on a counter attack, securing the 2-1 B.C. victory.

Free Kicks: Injuries to both Justin Parry and Matt Johnson in earlier matches left both players on the bench with lower body injuries. The Lions received two yellow cards in the match, one to Andrew Aitken and one to Ryan Dyck. Andrew Aitken will serve a one game suspension for his third yellow card of the tournament. With Nova Scotia's 2-0 win over Saskatchewan, Manitoba who headed into the tournament seeded 8th, will now face New Brunswick tomorrow morning in the 5th/6th place matchup at St.Mary's University.

'Toba Takes Battle of the Prairies

October 6, 2007
On a gusty afternoon in Halifax, a gutsy performance from the Sons of Italy Lions propelled Team Manitoba to a 2-0 victory over Saskatchewan.

After two early stops by Lions goalkeeper Steve Sawatzky in the first half, the Lions took control of the important Pool A matchup. Former Lions goalkeeper Kevin Krause was forced to make several stops in the match, and kept the game scoreless with a magnificant diving save off a Moreno Alberti shot late in the first half.

In the second half the Lions were rewarded for their efforts, when Ryan Dyck scored his second goal of the tournament at the 60th minute of the match.

A flurry of activity late in the match included a dazzling save by Kevin Krause on a Domi Antonini breakaway. But, moments later, Ryan Dyck found a streaking Domi Antonini who finished nicely in the 90th minute, to secure the victory.

Corner Kicks: The Lions Justin Legare had Manitoba's lone yellow card in the match. B.C. defeated Ontario 3-2 with a late goal this afternoon. A victory over B.C. tomorrow morning would be required to clinch a Sons of Italy gold medal matchup versus Alberta on Monday afternoon. Lions Head Coach Larry Ladobruk was stung by a wasp at the 20 minute mark of the match. He is currently listed as day-to-day. Special thanks to our 16 loyal supporters who have travelled to Halifax and have been our 12th man of the match throughout the week.

Scoring decisive goal a tall order

October 5, 2007
Halifax's six-foot-seven Sweetapple notches clutch header on cross

The Daily News

The tallest player provided the game's biggest moment.

Six-foot-seven defender Mark Sweetapple managed to redirect a cross from Matt Houston for a header and the game's lone goal in the 26th minute as Halifax City Coldwell Banker blanked the Sons of Italy Lions from Manitoba 1-0 at the Canadian senior men's soccer club championship yesterday afternoon at Mainland Common.

The triumph improves Halifax City's record to 1-1-0 at the 10-team tourney heading into today's 8 p.m. start versus Ontario. Matt Landry kept a clean sheet for the shutout.

"I'm ecstatic for the guys to play so well and so hard and to get rewarded for their efforts," Halifax City head coach Jack Hutchison said. "We still have our work cut out for us, though."

Landry provided several diving saves to preserve the goose egg, but was aided by defender Jamie Weir's clearing the ball off the line late in the second half.

"I've asked him (Weir) to do some journeyman duty and I give him all the credit in the world," Hutchison said. "He's getting into the mix and making his presence felt. He's a heck of a competitor."

In its two games, Halifax City does not have a goal during play from its forwards. Ryan Haughn converted a penalty shot in a 2-1 loss to B.C. on Wednesday night.

"We have three or four guys who can bury the ball in a hurry," Hutchison said. "It's more the of the buildup to the get them the ball in the spots that they need it."

Manitoba, which includes former Dalhousie and Donair player Matt Johnson, rallied for three goals in the second half to topple Ontario 3-1 on Wednesday. But the club failed to duplicate its energy level and execution from the previous day, according to Johnson.

"We started off slow and didn't stick to our game plan that gave us success our first game," the 29-year-old Johnson said. "Once they scored, they put 11 men behind the ball and it was hard to break them down. We had our chances, but couldn't finish."

Johnson played for Dalhousie men's coach Pat Nearing from 2001-2003 while earning a commerce degree. He's played for the Sons of Italy Lions for the past eight years except for the club's national championship triumph in 2002. That year, he suited up with King of Donair and won bronze instead at the Canadian tournament in St. John's, N.L..

Ralph Levangie returns to the Halifax City lineup for tonight's game versus Ontario; Levangie was red-carded in the loss to B.C. Rory Kennedy, a rookie with Saint Mary's, is day-to-day after sustaining a serious foot injury, also against B.C..

NOTEBOOK: Yesterday's 10 a.m. match between Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador at Wickwire Field will be replayed due to a technical error. In the 29th minute, the referee blew the whistle and signaled for a penalty shot after a Quebec player was hauled down inside the penalty area. But the ball rolled to Quebec's Charif Zobiri, who scored several seconds later. The official ruled the goal would stand - prompting a predictable protest, which was upheld.

The replay is set for tomorrow at Mainland Common (5 p.m.), previously an off day for Quebec. Newfoundland and Labrador also faces New Brunswick earlier at 10 a.m.

Canadian senior men soccer club championship At Mainland Common, Clayton Park
- SCORE: Halifax City Coldwell Banker 1 Sons of Italy Lions (Manitoba) 0
- SCORING: Mark Sweetapple (26th minute).
- SHUTOUT: Matt Landry.
- SUPER SUB: Halifax City's Jamie Were saved a sure goal by clearing the ball off the goal line late in the second half.

Lions Suffer First Loss

October 4, 2007
The Sons of Italy Lions (Manitoba) took to the field at Halifax Commons versus host, Nova Scotia today. Nova Scotia won the tightly contested match 1-0.

The Lions entered game two following a 3-1 victory over Ontario yesterday morning. Nova Scotia entereed the match following a 2-1 loss to B.C., yesterday evening. Nova Scotia opened the scoring in the 26th minute on header from a free kick opportunity. Nova Scotia's center back won a header from inside the penalty area, finishing well to open the scor.

In the final 30 minutes, Manitoba pushed forward strongly, but were denied on several occasions. With 20 minutes remaining, Moreno Alberti received a beautiful ball from Domi Antonini and was denied on the breakaway by the charging Nova Scotia goalkeeper. Later in the dying moments of the game Alberti was once again denied when a certain goal was cleared from the line by a Nova Scotia defender.

The Lions now 1-1, will have one day off to prepare for two must win matches versus Saskatchewan and B.C., on Saturday and Sunday.

Corner Kicks: The Lions had four yellow cards in the match, served were Andrew Aitken, Ryan Dyck, Domi Antonini, and Matt Appler.

The Manitoba women (Sweatshack) were 5-0 winners over Saskatchewan in their opening match yesterday afternoon. In their second match of the tournament today, they led Ontario 1-0 at the half, but surrendered two second half goals to lose 2-1.

Lions Knock off Number One Ranked Ontario in Opener

October 3, 2007
The Sons of Italy Lions faced the Ontario Men's Cup Champion, Woodbridge Italia, at the Halifax Commons. The Lions opened the Hynundai Challenge Cup with a 3-1 victory in a physically played match.

Despite dominating much of the early play, the Lions gave up the first goal on Ontario's first shot of the match at 33 minutes. The Lions trailed 1-0 at half-time.

At the 53 minute mark, Lions defender Justin Parry played a ball through to Ryan Dyck, who was breaking down the left wing. Dyck finished beautifully, evening the match at 1-1.

Minutes later Lion defender Tony Nocita headed a corner kick opportunity off the post. Moments later Domi Antonini on a brilliant individual effort cutting inside grazed the far post from twenty yards out.

The Lions continued to press and were finally rewarded when Moreno Alberti layed off a pass to Justin Legare who charged the net and slotted a finely finished shot past the Ontario netminder at the 76th minute.

The game was put out of reach when Moreno Alberti set up Nolly Sanchez for the third Manitoba goal in the 82nd minute.

Lions netminder Steve Sawatzky was forced to make a diving save with minutes remaining, making the final score 3-1 for Manitoba.

Corner Kicks: Ontario had 3 yellow cards in the match, while Manitoba equalled Ontario's total with yellow cards to Nevin deKorompay, Ryan Dyck, and Andrew Aitken.

For more information on the 2007 Championships in Halifax, please visit the official host website for the Canadian Senior Club 2007 National Championships.

Choose the Schedule tab for game results.

Lions 2007 Double Crown Champions

September 8, 2007
The Sons of Italy Lions Soccer Club completed the 2007 MMSL Premier Division regular season with 13 wins, 1 loss, and 4 ties. The record secured the Lions 4th Premier Division Championship in the past 5 years, and 5th league title in the past 7 years.

In addition to the 2007 League title, the Lions also captured the 2007 MSA Cup, securing the Lions 5th MSA Cup Championship in the team's 12 year history.

The Lions will compete from October 1 - October 8, 2007, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the Canadian Soccer Association National Championships.

In the Lions last appearance to the National tournament, the Club achieved the ultimate goal in amateur soccer, winning the Challenge Cup Gold Medal.

Corner Kicks: Since joining the MMSL in 2002, aside from 4 League Championships, the Lions also lead the MMSL with the top Premiership record overall. In the leagues first 6 seasons, the Lions have totalled 97 Wins, 9 Losses, and 10 Ties. In those 116 matches since joining the MMSL, the Lions have outscored their opponents with 376 goals and just 79 goals against.

For more information on the 2007 Championships in Halifax, please visit the official host website for the Canadian Senior Club 2007 National Championships

Sons of Italy Lions vs. Ontario 10/3/2007 8:00am

Sons of Italy Lions vs. Nova Scotia 10/4/2007 12:00pm

Sons of Italy Lions vs. Saskatchewan 10/6/2007 10:30am

Sons of Italy Lions vs. B.C. 10/7/2007 8:00am

Sons of Italy Lions vs. POSITION/TBD 10/8/2007 TBA

*All times are Central Time Zone

Sons of Italy triumph over Lusitania for MSA Cup

August 19, 2007

Thanks in large part to Steve Sawatzky's educated guess, the Sons of Italy Lions are headed back to nationals.

The Sons of Italy edged FC Lusitania 2-1 in last night's Manitoba Soccer Association Cup senior men's final in front of 600 spectators at Winnipeg Soccer Complex.

The Lions will compete in the national tournament in Halifax in October. Last night's triumph gave them their fourth MSA Cup title since 1996 and first since 2002, when they went on to capture a Canadian crown.

"It's been like a bad dream almost," Lions player-coach Tony Nocita said of the last four seasons. "Because if you look at our record in the last three or four years, I would say probably out of 100 games we've won 95 and lost just a Cup game or two."

Thanks to Sawatzky, the Sons goalkeeper, their MSA Cup losing streak was in no danger of continuing last night.

Shortly after Justin Parry gave the Lions a 1-0 lead in the 47th minute, Lusitania was awarded a penalty kick. Ken Sacremento took the shot for an injured Sanel Mendin and fired a bullet towards the left corner.

Unfortunately for Sacremento, that's exactly where Sawatzky was headed.

"A lot of times it comes down to nerves a little bit and a little bit of luck," said Sawatzky, who has been with the Lions since they were incorporated 12 years ago.

"I just had a feeling that was the way that he was going to go, based on the way that he plays a little bit. I made my mind up I was going that way early."

It was a huge save, and 14 minutes later 20-year-old Adam Hajkowski put the Lions up 2-0. Chris Lourenco, in the 69th minute, got Lusitania on the board, but it couldn't get the equalizer.

"That save was a key," Lusitania manager Rick Moreira said. "You have to give the goalie credit. That's why he's one of the best. It was a great save. It definitely was a game-breaker."

In the senior women's final yesterday afternoon, Laura Locke and Karli Colpitts both scored twice to propel Sweat Shack past Team United 4-1. Stephanie Rurak had the lone goal for United.

Meanwhile, in the under-18 boys' and girls' provincial finals yesterday, the Bonivital Flames ruled the pitch.

Ben Getachew scored in overtime to lead Bonivital past South End United 1-0 in the boys' final, while Ali Kastner had the only goal in the Flames' 1-0 victory over the Northern Lights.

The senior women's nationals are also in Halifax, at the same time as the men's event, while both Bonivital squads will compete at the under-18 national tournament in Fredericton, also in October.

Lions tie Thunder

July 7, 2007
On a humid 100 degree evening in Minneapolis, the Sons of Italy Lions took to the field to meet the Minnesota Thunder of the United Soccer League (United States Professional League - Division one). Lions midfielder Ryan Dyck opened the scoring ten minutes into the match, giving Sons of Italy the early one goal lead. The score at the half remained 1-0 Lions. Part way through the second half, second year Lions midfielder Adam Hajkowski made the score 2-0 Lions. Lions keeper Steve Sawatzky performed strongly, but the Thunder came storming back with two second half goals to equalize the match. The score would not change and the Lions and Thunder battled to a 2-2 tie, before a crowd of just over 1,000 spectators.

Lions cut down by Hellas

August 18, 2003

Canadian soccer will have a new club champion.

Yesterday the Sons of Italy Lions, the reigning Manitoba and national soccer champions, lost by the smallest of margins to a team that took on the task of defeating the Lions with a Herculean effort.

"Nobody gave us credit," said Gus Vailas, coach of the Hellas soccer team, outside of the dressing room after beating the Lions 2-1 in a provincial senior men's semifinal at Vince Leah Community Centre. "(We) built a team that can kick out the champions, it's amazing."

Vailas, in his third season coaching Hellas (which means "Greece"), said his players prepared for this game both physically and mentally for the past two weeks. Before the game, Vailas told his players to stick to their game plan and play defensively.

"We let them (Sons of Italy) have the ball," said Vailas. "And we waited for opportunities."

The first opportunity came in the first half as John Koutris shot the ball straight up into the net over the right side of Lions' goalkeeper Steve Sawatzky.

In the last 10 minutes of the second half, Alex Bustos capitalized on a defensive error, a pass back to the goalie that was too short, to put the ball away just inside the second goal post.

"The last goal gave us the extra push," said Bustos, 36, adding Hellas played Sons twice during the regular season and lost on both occasions. Getting the first goal was key.

"We took our time and kept to our game plan," said Bustos. As the underdogs," he added, "we had nothing to lose."

The Lions got their lone goal in the dying moments of the game with a shot by Sean Margeson.

"We had the chances," said Lions' coach Charles (Chic) Devenney, who counted nine clear goal chances in the second half alone. "We didn't finish and when you (can't) finish, you can't win the game."

"Give Hellas the credit. They came with a game plan and stuck to it," added Devenney. "The players wanted to win, we just didn't have that same desire."

Hellas defender Billy Economou, 25, credits the win to the team's spirit, fans' support, coach Vailas and, most importantly, the team's goalie Jim Sarlis.

"(Sarlis) had an outstanding game, he really came through in the clutch," said Economou, one of four Hellas starters that performed all week at Folklorama's Greek Islands Pavilion. His end-of-game celebration included a bit of Zorba dance moves and many "Opa's."

"I definitely won't take the credit," said Sarlis, adding it was his defenders that held the attack "to shots I could see."

"It's a good feeling," he added. "And it shows the top five or six teams in this league could be national champions."

Hellas now meets Sokol -- who beat Maples Juventus 5-2 with goals by Nolle Sanchez, Herbie Blackwood and Nano Romero -- in the provincial championship final.

Lions Win 15th Straight League Match

July 31, 2003
July 31, 2003 (Game 15)

Sons of Italy 5
Hellas 2

Sons of Italy improved their overall regular season record to 15 wins and 0 losses with a 5-2 victory over Hellas. Justin Hart opened the game scoring in the first half for Hellas. Ryan Dyck responded quickly on a free-kick opportunity to even the game. The Lions would add three more before the end of the first half, with two Steve Rebizant goals on penalty kicks, and a goal by Eric Baranowski. The second half would see Hellas strike first with a goal by Alex Bustos. The Lions once again responded on a strong effort by Eric Baranowski, making the score 5-1 for the Lions. Dan Garand played strong in goal for the Lions recording his first victory as a Lions call-up for the match.

July 28, 2003 (Game 14)

Sons of Italy 5
Polonia 1

Sons of Italy Lions improved their regular season record to 14 wins and 0 losses with a 5-1 victory over Polonia. Both teams missing their Western Canada Games players, took the field with the Lions jumping out to a 4-0 half-time lead. Rob Cowie opened the game scoring followed by two Sean Margison goals and one goal from midfielder Ed Keeper. Polonia opened second half scoring on a goal by J. Kowalski as his shot from close range beat Lions goalkeeper Sean Sylvestre. The Lions completed the match scoring on an unselfish effort by Eric Baranowski, when he opted to set up Sean Margison for his third goal of the match.

July 23, 2003 (Game 13)

Sons of Italy 7
United Weston 0

Sons of Italy Lions improved their overall regular season record to 13 wins and 0 losses with a 7-0 win over United Weston. Dave McPhail opened the scoring, and was followed by a Frank Buoncore goal, which provided the Lions with a 2-0 half-time lead. The Lions added five goals in the second half when Sean Margison scored two, and single goals by Steve Rebizant, Vince Ferlaino, and Frank Buoncore completed the match scoring. Sean Sylvestre recorded the shutout in goal for the Lions.

July 20, 2003 (Game 12)

Sons of Italy 1
Grant Mill 0

Sons of Italy Lions improved their overall record to 12 wins and 0 losses with a 1-0 victory over the Grant Mill Sword. Midway through the second half of play Eric Baranowski took a long lead pass from Tony Nocita off a Sons of Italy goal kick, and calmly chipped the ball over the Grant Mill goalkeeper. Ryan Dyck making his debut performance in goal for the Lions recorded the shutout.

July 9, 2003 (Game 11)

Sons of Italy 8
Britannia 0

The Lions defeated Britannia 8-0 to improve the club's regular season record to 11 wins and 0 losses. Sean Margison opened the scoring in the first half, followed by seven second half goals. Steve Rebizant scored three on the night; with Rob Cowie adding a goal on left footed bending shot from 25 yards out. Vince Ferlaino, Eric Baranowski, and Dave McPhail each scored to round the scoring. Sean Sylvestre recorded the shutout in goal for the Lions.

Lions start regular season with 10 straight victories

July 6, 2003

July 6, 2003 (Game 10)

Sons of Italy 3
Croatia 0

Sons of Italy improved their record to 10 wins and 0 losses with a 3-0 victory over Croatia. Tevin Olivier-Job opened the scoring with a spectacular 30-yard shot to the top corner of the net part way through the second half of play. Steve Rebizant and Sean Margison each added markers to complete the match scoring. Sean Sylvestre recorded the shutout in goal for the Lions.

July 3, 2003 (Game 9)

Sons of Italy 5
Maples Juventus 1

Lions improved their record to 9 wins and 0 losses in regular season action with a 5-1 victory over Maples Juventus. Sean Margison scored 3 first half goals in the 12th, 17th, and 34th minute of play. The Lions added two more in the second half on a goal by Eric Baranowski at 49 minutes, and Tim Colosimo at 85 minutes. Nevin deKerompay narrowly missed as he rang a shot off the post during second half action. Maples broke Sean Sylvestre's shutout in the 90th minute of play, when Venni Sartor scored on a penalty kick opportunity. The Lions controlled the game tempo throughout the 90-minute match. Not dressed for the Lions for tonight’s match-up were Steve Sawatzky, Jorge Aguirre, Eddie Keeper, and Tony Nocita.

June 25, 2003 (Game 8)

Sons of Italy 5
Ital-Inter 1

Sons of Italy improved their overall record to 8 wins and 0 losses, with a 5-1 victory over Ital-Inter. The Lions goal scorers were Rob Cowie with two first half goals, and Ryan Dyck added the third Lions goal of the opening half on a perfect feed from Eric Baranowski. The Lions scored two goals in the second half on strong efforts by Steve Rebizant and Sean Margison who closed out the match scoring. Lion’s goalkeeper Sean Sylvestre was nearly flawless between the pipes for the Lions, with only dazzling first half free kick goal by Ital-Inter. The game which was played in its entirety in heavy rain and winds, ended in a 5-1 Lions victory.

June 22, 2003 (Game 7)

Sons of Italy 3
Sokol 1

Sons of Italy improved their overall season record to 7 wins and 0 defeats, with a 3-1 victory over Sokol. The Lions and Sokol went into tonight’s match as the only undefeated teams in the MMSL Premier division. The Lions led at the half on goals by Sean Margison and Steve Rebizant. Margison gobbled up a loose ball that Sokol goalkeeper Tony Lupinetti mishandled, and drew first blood for the Lions. Rebizant would score on a penalty kick, after Lupinetti fouled Margison in the penalty area. The second half began defensively for the Lions, and moments after Nano Romero was red carded for violent play, Sokol would pull within one on a penalty kick opportunity by Nolly Sanchez. That goal would be the last to beat Sons of Italy goalkeeper Sean Sylvestre, as the Lions would add the game’s final goal, when Steve Rebizant found Nevin deKorompay at the top of the eighteen, deKorompay displayed brilliance as he dragged the Sokol goalkeeper Kevin Krause to his left, before neatly slotting the ball back past Krause's outstretched arms, and inside of the right post.

June 19, 2003 (Game 6)

Sons of Italy 1
Grant Mill 0

Sons of Italy were 1-0 winners over Grant Mill, with a 90th minute goal by the ever opportunistic, Sean Margison. The Lions improved their overall record to 6 wins and 0 losses with the victory. Sean Sylvestre recorded the shutout for the Lions.

Frank Tanks Chill

June 29, 2003
SOI staff writer

A quick counter, nimbly converted by rookie Frank Buoncore in the 58th minute carried the Sons of Italy Lions through to victory at Fort William Stadium on Sunday over the Thunder Bay Chill.

The initial play was as tattered and ragged as the recently sodden pitch, but the always-menacing Ryan Dyck spearheaded a series of breakthroughs down the left flank. On 30 minutes the elusive left mid ripped a scything shot, only to have it desperately parried away by the Chill keeper for one of the Sons’ many first half corners.

Though outright scoring chances were at a premium, SOI saw a degree of success attacking down the flanks, while the Chill’s focused central attack was calmly absorbed by the veteran defensive pairing of Peter Drazic and Tony Nocita.

Despite the continued pressure and possession, the Lions offense had difficulty in converting the multitude of crosses sent into the Chill area, including Robbie Cowie narrowly missing out on an Eric Baranowski strike that had eluded the grasp of the Thunder Bay keeper.

The addition of Frank Buoncore into the 2nd half lineup proved to be an apt choice, as the Anderlechtian prospect put SOI into the driver’s seat at 58 minutes. Taking advantage of an always bruising Ed Keeper tackle that stripped the Chill’s Mike Kolinski of possession in his own half, the former SEU star took a deft touch into space and with the aid of a fortuitously placed piece of sod lashed a looping shot that sailed over the Chill keeper and into the corner of the net.

After the restart, the superb play of Vinny Ferlaino down the right proved so aggravating to the chill defense that the urge to take the ball off him at any cost proved irresistible. A reckless tackle on Ferlaino left the Sons seeing red and the Chill seeing a red card.

The remainder of the game saw Thunder Bay pouring forward in efforts to score, but their volley of crosses into the box could not unsettle Sean Sylvestre.

Although the Chill did hit the post after a melee at the top of the box, but it was the Sons who found more offensive success in the games closing minutes, as they absorbed pressure and counter attacked. Eric Baranowski’s doorstep blast off of a delicious Steve Rebizant cross very nearly doubled the Lions advantage, if not for a fantastic save by Peura Petri.

At the game’s closing whistle the not quite capacity crowd put down their lemon chills and applauded a tough fought game that pushed the Sons season road record to 3-2.

Free Kicks:The Lions were without veteran starters Sean Margison, Jorge Aguirre, Matt Johnson, and Steve Sawatzky, and rookie David McPhail, but were rewarded with strong efforts from the club's newest additions Nevin deKorompay, Frank Buoncore, Vince Ferlaino, and Eric Baranowski. The Lions will now continue to prepare for the upcoming MSA Cup and completion of the MMSL regular season over the next eight weeks.

Lions Battle A-League Leading Thunder

June 27, 2003
The Minnesota Thunder win an exhibition game over Sons of Italy at Duluth's Ordean Field


In 90 minutes, Melvin Tarley went from obscurity to the name on the back of youth players' T-shirts.

Tarley, a forward for the Minnesota Thunder, scored three goals to lead his team to a 5-1 exhibition soccer win against the Manitoba Sons of Italy at Ordean Field.

About 1,140 fans watched as Tarley scored on a breakaway in the 60th minute. He stopped in front of the Canadian national champion's bench and did a slow, hip-swaying victory dance with his hands raised. One of his teammates dropped to his knees and pretended to shine Tarley's shoes. They stalked Tarley after the game, asking him to sign programs and T-shirts.

The Thunder (7-4-0) host Indiana (2-11-1) in a regular-season match today at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota.

"My favorite goal was the breakaway," said former Duluth Denfeld High School player Nick Polzin, who was home on leave from the Air Force. "The celebration was unique."

Asked who scored the goal, Polzin, 19, stuttered through the last name, remembering only that it began with the letter 'T.'

"What's his name, again?" Polzin said and laughed.

Regardless, Polzin planned on fighting the masses of preteens for Tarley's autograph after the game.

"I'm like a little kid. I've seen 'Finding Nemo' three times" said Polzin, who had seen two other Thunder games, and is an avid follower of the sport.

Henry Roningen's favorite player is German National Team goalie Oliver Kahn. But the 10-year-old East Select Soccer player said the Thunder played really well.

"They always stick to their positions," Roningen said. They don't run around like they don't know what they're doing."

The Lakewood student was in charge of snaring balls that went out of bounds.

Tarley scored the first goal of the game at 45 minutes of the first half, with an assist from Zafer Kilickan. The goal was tainted, however as the match official appeared to caution a Manitoba player for a foul. While talking to the player in question the Thunder took advantage by restarting the play to the suprise of the Manitoba team and referee. The goal however was allowed. In the second half, Tarley scored from the right corner of the goal box and into the left pocket of the net in the 52nd minute.

"I had the first goal, but my foot got stuck in the grass," Tarley said of being stopped in the first half. "I've been waiting a long time for this. I haven't had a chance to get into the starting lineup."

Tarley, in his first year with the team, is hoping that more games like Friday's will lead to a starting position.

Thunder coach Buzz Lagos was pleased with the team's play, and said the younger players are important for the depth of the team. The Thunder are at the top of the five-team Western Conference Central Division.

Tim Colissimo scored for the Sons of Italy in the 82nd minute. It wasn't the ending that Lagos was hoping for.

"I like shutouts," Lagos said. "Defending has been a forte of mine. I hate to give up soft goals, but they were strong and athletic and worked hard."

Manitoba coach Chic Devenney said the goal showed his young team's tenacity.

"We didn't get down on ourselves," Devenney said. "We played with some passion. We came (Friday) and learned valuable lessons. Next week's training sessions will be interesting."

The game served as a fundraiser to install lights at Ordean Field and was part of the East Select Soccer's Lake Superior Open Soccer Tournament, which began Friday at the Jean Duluth fields for more than 50 U-12 through U-19 teams.

Lions vs. Minnesota Thunder Game Story:

June 27, 2003
The Lions came out fighting, surrendering the games first goal just moments before the half-time whistle. Despite the controversial nature of the games opening goal, the Lions attempted to regroup at half-time.

The Thunder displayed their skills and ability improving their second half tempo and were rewarded with four second half goals. The Thunder's experience and training were aptly demonstrated in the final forty-five minutes.

The Lions regrouped with several goal scoring opportunities in the game's final twelve minutes. Nevin deKorompay was tackled just outside the Thunder penalty area after a surging run, produced from a deft Steve Rebizant flick. Tony Nocita's bending effort was turned aside by the Thunder goalkeeper. Moments later Eddie Keeper found Tim Colosimo with a terrific through ball, with Colosimo finishing strongly in the 82nd minute. In injury-time Steve Rebizant found himself alone with the Thunder keeper, only to be denied for the final time of the evening. The final score was Minnesota 5, Sons of Italy 1.

Free Kicks: The Lions were without leading scorer Sean Margison, skilled central midfielder Jorge Aguirre, veteran midfielder Matt Johnson, the youthful speedster David McPhail, and veteran goalkeeper Steve Sawatzky. The Lions will meet the Thunder Bay Chill on Sunday afternoon to complete the two game road trip.

Lions Open MMSL Season with Five Straight Victories

June 16, 2003
June 15, 2003 (Game 5)

Sons of Italy 6
Dynamo 1

Sons of Italy improved their early season record to 5 wins and 0 losses. The team went into last nights match with Winnipeg Dynamo, coming off a hard fought 2-0 win over Lucania. The teams traded first half penalty kick opportunities, with Dynamo scoring on their rebound opportunity past Lion goalkeeper Sean Sylvestre to make the score 1-0. The Lions missed their penalty opportunity but tied the score at 1 to end the half. The Lions came out storming in the second half with five unanswered goals. Goal scorers on the night were Rob Cowie, Eric Baranowski with two, and Sean Margison with three goals. The final score was the Lions victorious over Dynamo by a 6-1 score.

June 12, 2003 (Game 4)

Sons of Italy 2
Lucania 0

Sons of Italy came out fast and furious in their opening season match versus Lucania. The Lions played with intensity throughout the 90-minute match, opening the scoring on a Ryan Dyck goal in the 40th minute of the match. The Lions entered the second half with the 1-0 lead, and limited Lucania's scoring chances throughout the match. Red cards were given to Jorge Aguirre of the Lions and Chris Furtado of Lucania with approximately 20 minutes remaining in the match. A momentary scare was provided when Sons of Italy goalkeeper Steve Sawatzky injured his knee in the second half. Sawatzky shook off the injury to remain in the match. In the 85th minute of play, Nevin deKorompay was taken down in the Lucania 18 yard box, leaving Rob Cowie the opportunity for a penalty kick. Cowie would make no mistake, scoring the second Lion goal of the match. The final score was Sons of Italy 2 and Lucania 0. The Lions entire squad played key roles in this early season match up, as the Lions improved their overall record to 4 wins and 0 losses.

June 8, 2003 (Game 3)

Sons of Italy 8
Brittania 0

Sons of Italy improved their record to three victories and -no defeats, as they defeated Brittania by a score of 8-0. The Lions led 2-0 at halftime on goals by Rob Cowie and a tremendously finished strike from Ryan Dyck. Steve Sawatzky was replaced by Sean Sylvestre for the start of the second half of play, and completed the shutout performance, as the Lions added 6 goals to complete the match scoring. Second half scorers were Steve Rebizant with three, Sean Margison with two, and Britannia was credited with an own goal off a redirection from a Dave McPhail shot. The match was played in a friendly fashion until a late dismissal of Britannia defender Adrian Hawaleshka. The Lions eight-goal outburst was their largest margin of victory in this early portion of the season.

June 5, 2003 (Game 2)

Sons of Italy 4
Hellas 2

Sons of Italy had to respond on two occasions to one-goal deficits, as Hellas jumped out to 1-0 and 2-1 leads on two goals by Gio Tropea. The Lions responded on a diving header by Steve Rebizant, and tied the match at 2-2, on a finishing header by Sean Margison.

The Lions scored two in the second half the first by rookie David McPhail, his second of the season. The Lions later had two goals disallowed, but finally capped off the scoring on Rob Cowie's first goal of the season. Sean Sylvestre recorded the victory in goal for the Lions.

June 1, 2003 (Game 1)

Sons of Italy 2
United Weston 0

Sons of Italy were victorious in their first regular season match of the season, 2-0 over a hard working United Weston squad. After a scoreless first half, Ryan Dyck set up Eric Baranowski for the opening goal of the regular season. Baranowski's goal was quickly followed up by Dave McPhail's first goal as a senior player, on a feed from defender Peter Drazic. The shutout was shared by Sean Sylvestre and Steve Sawatzky.

Lions wrap up pre-season with a 1-0 victory

May 18, 2003
Sons of Italy played their final exhibition match of the pre-season versus a combined team featuring Calgary Storm A-League, PDL and youth prospects this evening. The Lions were 1-0 winners on a second half goal by Eric Baranowski. Veteran midfielder Jorge Aguirre perfectly placed the corner kick opportunity to the ever opportunistic Baranowski, who scored his second goal of the three game exhibition road trip, and the game's only goal on a diving header.

The Lions came into the match after two games the previous day, while the Storm fielded a lineup of 7 A-League regulars, 4 PDL players, and the balance of the roster was filled with the Storm U-18 top prospects. The Storm came off a 2-1 victory over the El Paso Patriots only 24 hours earlier. "It was a great experience for our guys to play against A-League caliber players. It can only make us better." Tommy Wheeldon looked after the Storm line up making various changes throughout the game in order to give the young prospects a great opportunity to play with some of the PDL and A-League players.

The first half ended scoreless with Steve Sawatzky in the Lions net. Sean Sylvestre would once again complete the game in goal, carrying the shutout the rest of the way. Baranowski's winner, helped the Lions finish the road trip with 2 wins and 1 loss.

After the game, Storm management and Lions coaches discussed the possibility of an exhibition game in Winnipeg, potentially later this summer or next season.

The Lions completed their 2003 exhibition schedule with 4 wins and 1 loss, capturing the first ever MMSL Charity Shield Championship title along the way.

The Lions will now return home for the regular season opener against Polonia, on Sunday, May 25th, at 5:00 PM, at the Vince Leah Community Centre.

Lions Earn a Split in Tough Doubleheader!!

May 17, 2003
Due to snowfall yesterday, the Lions were forced to reschedule their match versus the Calgary Villains to this evening. This forced change led to a grueling doubleheader showdown between the Lions and the University of Calgary Dinos, and the Lions and Villains, two games which were to be played in a six hour period.

The Lions opened the day with a game versus the University of Calgary Dinos. The Lions were victorious by a 4-1 score. The Lions came out strong early with three first half goals, two by Steve Rebizant and one by Sean Margison. U of C would get one in the second half, but Eric Baranowski would cap off the scoring with one of his own, making the final 4-1 for the Lions. The goaltending duties were split, with Steve Sawatzky playing the first half, and Sean Sylvestre playing the final 45 minutes.

The Lions after a two hour rest marched right back out for game two of the day, a match originally scheduled for the previous afternoon. The Calgary Villains took advantage of some tired legs, and jumped out to a first half lead of 2-0. Goaltending duties were once again split between Steve Sawatzky, who saw action in the first half, and Sean Sylvestre, who got the call for the final 45 minute half. The Lions found their legs in the second half battling hard to try and salvage a result in their second match of the day. Sons of Italy sophomore player Justin Parry narrowed the margin to 2-1 midway through the second half. Despite a tremendous push in the second half, the Lions fell short on the score board by a score of 2-1.

Free Kicks: The Lions have been without Frank Buoncore, Vince Ferlaino, and David McPhail. All three are on the Alberta trip, but as members of the Team Manitoba Western Canada Games team. In a match earlier today, Team Manitoba tied the Calgary Storm Under-18 Team by a score of 2-2.

The Lions will face the Calgary Storm tomorrow afternoon, in the third and final exhibition match of the trip. The Storm were 2-1 winners over the El Paso Patriots in A-League action tonight at Foothills Park, in Calgary. The victory improved the Storm record to 2 victories and 3 defeats on the season.

Lions victorious in first ever Charity Shield Game

May 10, 2003
The Sons of Italy Lions began the 2003 Outdoor Season in winning fashion, defeating the 2002 MMSL League Champion Sokol Soccer Club 4-3 at the Vince Leah Community Centre. With the victory, the Lions were crowned the 2003 Charity Shield Champions.

The match placed the 2002 MSA Cup Champion Lions versus Sokol, in an exhibition friendly, with the event raising money for the Special Olympics.

The Lions opened the scoring with three quick goals in the first half. Sean Margison opened the scoring, with Steve Rebizant, and Rob Cowie quickly following up with goals allowing the Lions to jump out in front 3-0. Sokol would score one of their own to end the first half, and followed up with two goals in the second half to equalize the match at 3-3. It would however be the late goal heroics of Sean Margison, after a fine effort by rookie midfielder Frank Buoncore, that would secure the 4-3 victory for Sons of Italy. Margison was later named the game MVP by the Manitoba Major Soccer League.

The defending Canadian Champions will now continue their exhibition preparations, with three games in Calgary next weekend, in preparation for the season opener with Polonia on May 25th.

Lions win Indoor Soccer Double Crown

April 6, 2003
Before an enthusiastic capacity crowd at Soccer Spectrum, the Sons of Italy Lions defeated the Manitoba Western Canada Games team 4-3 in double overtime. The enthusiastic hard working Team Manitoba jumped out to an early 3-0 first half lead. The Lions who went into the playoff championship match on a 15 game winning streak, looked tired early. The Lions earned a spot in the final with a hard fought 4-3 victory over Europa on a late goal by Ed Keeper with 7 seconds remaining the night earlier. The Lions were playing the match shorthanded as the Lions indoor scoring leader Frank Buoncore and talented forward Vince Ferlaino both played for the Western Canada Games team in the playoffs due to league rules. In addition, Lions high scoring forward Eric Baranowski missed the game due to a serious ankle injury. Despite the short bench, the Lions stormed back on a goal by Nevan deKorompay, and later added a second goal to end the first half down 3-2. The Lions equalized the game in the second half of play, sending the game to overtime tied at 3. The Lions were forced to kill off a penalty to forward Sean Margison early in the first overtime. Strong goaltending by Lions goalkeeper Sean Sylvestre kept Team Manitoba off the score board after their initial 3 goals, with spectacular saves early in both overtime periods. It would be however the heroics once again by Sean Margison, as he beat Team Manitoba goalkeeper Kyle Hiebert early in the second overtime period, to give the Lions the 4-3 victory. It was in the same fashion that Margison beat the Newfoundland goalkeeper at the Senior Men's Nationals this past fall, securing the Canadian National Championship for the Lions. The Lions finished the indoor season with an impressive 18 wins, 1 loss, and 1 tie, under the guidance of the team's Indoor Coach and Director of Player Development, Larry Ladobruk. This record earned the Lions the League regular season title.
Free Kicks: The Lions will now continue their hard work under the guidance of head coach Chick Devenney and assistant coach Larry Ladobruk, in preparation for the start of the upcoming outdoor season in May. The team will soon announce its exhibition schedule with three games to be played the May long weekend in Calgary. In addition, Sons of Italy will play Sokol on May 10 in the inaugural Charity Shield Match which has Cup winners playing league winners from the previous season.

Lions end Indoor Regular Season in Perfect Fashion

March 28, 2003
The Sons of Italy Lions 2002-2003 indoor regular season schedule concluded with a 3-1 victory over Croatia. The Lions completed a perfect second half schedule with 12 victories and 0 defeats. The Lions outscored their opponents 80-22 during that 12 game stretch, securing the regular season indoor championship trophy. Frank Buoncore led the way with 21 goals, followed by mid season addition Eric Baranowski's 16 goals, and veteran striker Sean Margison's 14 goals. During the 12 game stretch, goaltender Sean Sylvestre recorded 3 consecutive shutout victories.

Lions Director of Player Development, Larry Ladobruk, who is also coaching the indoor squad, will now prepare the troops for the indoor playoffs. Game one will take place at Soccer Spectrum on Wednesday, April 2, at 7:00 pm.

Golden goal leaves Laurentians Silver and Sons Gold

October 15, 2002
By JOHN BROWNE, The Telegram

The faint gasp heard ’round old King George V Field Monday afternoon was the sound of more than 10,000 fans sighing.
Sean Margison scored five minutes into the second 15-minute overtime period to give Manitoba a 1-0 win over the St. Lawrence Laurentians for the 2002 Challenge Cup national men’s soccer crown.

The Golden Goal was the one spot of tarnish on an otherwise sterling run by Newfoundland and Labrador’s representatives, who were ranked 10th heading into the 10-team tournament. The sudden goal by the Sons of Italy Lions appeared to shock the crowd, which had been anticipating another improbable St. Lawrence win.

Although the Laurentians won twice and tied once in getting to the final, they’d been outplayed in every match. However, they more than held their own in the final only to have their Irish luck run out.

The teams had battled through a scoreless 90 minutes of regulation time, including a thrilling final five minutes that saw Laurentian goalkeeper Pat Byrne and Manitoba keeper Steve Sawatzky make outstanding saves that had the fans roaring.

But when Margison, the ever-dangerous Manitoba striker who had missed some good scoring chances earlier because of Byrne’s work, finally broke in on the Laurentian keeper in the second overtime, he put the winner away with ease.

“I knew that if we eventually kept working we’d get something,” said Margison. “We worked hard all year and we earned this.”

Sawatzky saved the game for Manitoba by just getting his hand on the ball and pushing it inches wide of the low corner of the net late in regulation time.

“They had some dangerous forwards and they had some good shots on net but we kept them off the board and we’re glad to be going home with the gold medal,” he said.

Manitoba coach Chic Devenney said his team is a “fast, aggressive team” and it finally began playing that way at the end of the game. The amiable coach was gracious in victory.

“We really met our match today. The Laurentians did a fabulous job in shutting us down. But we played hard and we played for that goal.

“I can’t explain the excitement on our bench when he (Margison) scored the winning goal, but it’s a team game and we’ve got 17 players and they worked very hard for me. It’s been a glorious road.”

Devenney, a Scotsman who came to Canada a decade ago and got his citizenship five years ago, said as soon as he arrived in Winnipeg he looked for an opportunity to coach a soccer club. He said he likes to bring young players through his system.

“We believe in a fast, attacking game with some control, but we also have some experienced players, including fullback Tony Nocita, the team’s captain and a former professional.”

Devenney said the one thing the Lions had that eventually brought them the championship was a belief in themselves.

“We believe in team work and train with intensity,” he said. “When you come to our club you are expected to hunt and fight for each other. It’s a real family affair in the dressing room.”

“Both teams played really hard,’’ said Manitoba defender Tevin Olivier-Job, who plays the same position for the Memorial Sea-Hawks in the Atlantic universities conference.

Olivier-Job said it was a little extra special for him to play against MUN teammate Richard Kelly for the top prize.

“All tournament long Richard and myself were talking about what it would be like to play each other in the gold medal game. We knew we had a shot but we weren’t 100 per cent sure it would happen, so this hyped both of us to play this game,’’ said Olivier-Job.

St. Lawrence veteran Harry Kelly, who played his last game with the senior Laurentians, said there is no reason his team won’t be back next year.

“The guys in our dressing room know what it takes to win and hopefully they can take it one step further next year and bring the Cup back home.”

St. Lawrence got to the final by beating Alberta 3-1 Sunday on goals by Alec Turpin, Chris Caines and Richard Kelly.

Nova Scotia beat Alberta 2-0 for the bronze medal.

Sons of Italy win 2002 Senior Men's National Championship Gold Medal Game

October 14, 2002
Before a crowd of over 10,000 people and an estimated further 3,000 people on nearby roofs and stadium fences in St.John's, Newfoundland, Sons of Italy on a goal by Sean Margison 5 minutes into the second ovetime period, defeated Newfoundland and Labrador 1-0, to win the National championship of Canada.

Margison who scored the winner with uder two minutes remaining in yesterdays semi-final over Nova Scotia, beat Newfoundland's Pat Byrne on a beautiful pass from midfielder Ryan Dyck to set off the post game celebrations for the Lions. Veteran Sons of Italy goaltender Steve Sawatzky recorded the shutout for the Lions. Both he and goaltender Sean Sylvestre split the goaltending duties in the tournament, with the only two opposition goals being on penalty kicks. The Lions overall tournament record was 3 wins, 0 losses, and 1 tie, with 5 goals and 2 against.

Timely goals by Steve Rebizant in game one, Tony Nocita in game two, and Sean Margison in both games three and four, along with the overall hard work of the entire team was the formula of success in the gold medal run.

The Lions outshot Newfoundland 10-8 in the match, while Newfoundland had the edge in corner kick opportunities by a 3-2 margin.

In the day's other medal game, 2001 defending champions Nova Scotia defeated Alberta 2-0 to win the tournament bronze medal game.

The heavily supportive Newfoundland crowd would go home disappointed by the result as the Lions capped off their 2002 outdoor season in magnificant fashion.

Free Kicks: With the victory the Sons of Italy Lions won their first ever Canadian National gold medal. The Lions had previously won a bronze medal in 1996. Sons of Italy became the 81st Canadian Soccer Association Senior Men's Champions. The Province of Manitoba has now won 11 of the gold medal championships.

Margison pots pair as Sons advance to final

October 14, 2002
By Glen Dawkins of the Winnipeg Sun

Sean Margison scored two goals as Manitoba's Sons of Italy Lions edged defending champion Nova Scotia 2-1, yesterday in the semifinals of the Challenge Cup senior men's soccer championship in St. John's, Nfld.

Sons of Italy advance to today's final against host Newfoundland, which dumped Alberta 3-1 in the other semifinal.

It's the first appearance in the national final in the Lions' eight-year history. Their best previous finish was a bronze medal in 1996, beating the same Nova Scotia club.

"It's just unbelievable," said goalkeeper and captain Steve Sawatzky. "We'll try to bring it home (today)."

"This team has really, really come together," said fullback and assistant coach Tony Nocita. "We've played really well this tournament and adapted to the conditions."

Margison Scores Two!! Sons of Italy going for Gold!!

October 13, 2002
Sons of Italy were heading into today's semi-final match versus defending Champion Nova Scotia, with the opportunity to play for gold in Newfoundland.

Sean Margison opened the scoring early in the 12th minute of play, after receiving the ball in the midfield he quickly turned and while moving forward fired a shot past the Nova Scotia goaltender Mark Gardiner, finding the back of the net giving the Lions a 1-0 halftime lead.

Nova Scotia would tie the game on a penalty shot in the 83rd minute on a goal by Trevor Reddick that beat Sons of Italy goaltender Steve Sawatzky.

The Lions however would not be stopped, as the Manitoba champions came roaring back on a second goal by Sean Margison in the 88th minute of the match, when Margison took a perfectly placed long thrown in from Justin Parry, suprising the defenders of Nova Scotia and sent Margison in on goal which he capped off with the perfect finish past the Nova Scotia goaltender.

Sons of Italy outshot Nova Scotia 11-8 in the match, and both teams had three corner kick opportunities in the tight contest.

With the 2-1 victory, Sons of Italy will play in tomorrows gold medal game versus Newfoundland who defeated Alberta 3-1 in today's other semi-final match.

This will be Sons of Italy's first appearance in team history in the gold medal match at the Challenge Cup. A Newfoundland hometown crowd of over 10,000 fans are now anticipated for tomorrow's gold medal match.

Nocita's late free kick goal advances Sons of Italy to Semi-Finals in Newfoundland

October 11, 2002
Sons of Italy took to the field in St. John's, Newfoundland, for the second straight day. The Lions opponent Ontario was coming off a 1-1 tie with Alberta in opening day action. The Lions were victorious over New Brunswick by a 1-0 score.

Ontario opened the scoring on a penalty shot by Paulo Ferreira in the 39th minute, beating Sons of Italy goaltender Sean Sylvestre. The Lions were outshot by Ontario 16 to 11, and Ontario had 3 corner kicks to Manitoba's 2 corner kick opportunities in the match. Many of the Ontario attempts were generally harmlous, however, Sylvestre stood tall the rest of the way, keeping the game within one goals reach,and thus giving the Lions the opportunity it needed to even up the close match.

In the 88th minute of the match with time running down, Sons of Italy veteran Tony Nocita scored a spectacular free kick goal from just outside the 18 yard box bending the shot over the Ontario wall and past the Ontario goaltender Paul Azevedo to even the match 1-1.

Sons of Italy with the tie and a tournament record of one win and one tie, now advance to the semi-final game on Sunday, October 13, at 10:30 am (Central Time Zone)with the opponent still to be determined. The winner of the semi-final match will play in the gold medal match, while the losing team will play in the bronze medal game on Monday, October 14th.

Sons of Italy veteran Jorge Aguirre played with an injured ankle, but did complete the game. Midfielder Jason Colosimo was not as fortunate as his ankle injury will make his availability questionable for the remainder of the tournament.
The Lions will also add Steve Sawatzky and Jordan Lanoway to their roster for the final two games, as both were unavailable to travel with the team at the start of the week.

In other matches on this second day of the tournament, Alberta defeated New Brunswick 3-0 on the heels of three first half goals in a short ten minute span. With the victory Alberta has also advanced to the semi-finals on Sunday. Prince Edward Island defeated Saskatchewan 2-1 and the hosts Newfoundland tied Quebec 1-1.

Rebizant Scores!! Sons of Italy Start Nationals in Strong Fashion

October 10, 2002
Sons of Italy took to the field in St. John's, Newfoundland earlier today in a match against New Brunswick.

The Lions outshot New Brunswick 11 to 5 in the match, but it took a Steve Rebizant goal in the 39th minute of the first half to secure the 1-0 victory for Team Manitoba. Rebizant beat New Brunswick goaltender Adam Pischiutta on a penalty shot near the end of the first half, a half which was dominated by Sons of Italy.

The shutout was recorded by an impressive Sean Sylvestre in the Lions net, while the Lions await the arrival of veteran goalkeeper Steve Sawatzky which is expected on Saturday. Sons of Italy had 6 corner kicks in the match, while New Brunswick had 4 corner kick opportunities in the hard fought match.

In other matches during the first day, the home team Newfoundland defeated British Columbia 1-0, Nova Scotia and Prine Edward Island tied 0-0, and Ontario on a late second half goal tied Alberta 1-1.

Sons of Italy will meet Ontario tomorrow morning at 7:30 am (Central Time Zone).

Sons of Italy finish Thunder Bay Tournament in Strong Fashion

September 2, 2002
Sons of Italy are heading back to Manitoba with a third place finish at the 2002 Thunder Bay Soccer Tournament.

The Lions played six matches finishing with an impressive 4 wins, 1 loss, and 1 tie. Sons of Italy gave up 1 goal in the six matches, and were not beaten in regulation time during the entire event.

The Lions opened the tournament with a scoreless draw versus a team from Timmins, Ontario. The Lions dominated the match but were unable to finish their many scoring opportunities. In game 2, the Lions defeated Maples Juventus of Winnipeg by a 3-0 margin, on three goals by striker Steve Rebizant. The Lions continued their winning ways in game 3 with an impressive 5-1 victory over Thunder Bay Polonia, with 4 goals by striker Sean Margison. Game 4, saw an American opponent from Minneapolis fall 1-0 to the Lions, on a late goal by SOI youth reserve player, Vince Ferlaino. This match set the way for the return match between Sons of Italy and Lucania. Just last week these two teams battled in MSA Cup action, a match in which the Lions defeated Lucania to secure the Provincial title. This time however the game would be settled by penalty kicks, after a scoreless 60 minute match dominated by Sons of Italy. These two rivals battled it out from the penalty spot, with the Lions coming up short in the penalty shot competition, and were thus forced to face Thunder Bay Croatia for the tournament Bronze medal. In the 6th and final match, Sons of Italy were victorius with a 1-0 victory over Thunder Bay Croatia, on a second half goal by Tevin Olivier-Job.
FREE KICKS: The Lions finished the six game tournament with 10 goals and only 1 against (with the one goal being credited as an own goal, when Tony Nocita passed the ball back to goalkeeper Steve Sawatzky on a routine pass back, which deflected into the net). A statistical point of interest saw SOI give up only the one own goal in the team's last ten games in which veteran defender Tony Nocita participated in since his return from Alberta. The Lions were excited to have 3 Youth players in the lineup during this Thunder Bay Tournament, the 3 players Nevin DeKorompay, Chris Furtado, and Vince Ferlaino contributed extremely well throughout the weekend event. The team finished 3rd at last years event in Thunder Bay, defeating Ital-Inter of Winnipeg 1-0 in a Golden Goal Overtime. The Lions will now head home to prepare for Club Nationals in St. John's, Newfoundland in October.

NFLD Bound - Sons of Italy Win 2002 MSA Cup

August 24, 2002
The Sons of Italy Lions are heading to St. John's, Newfoundland, for the Senior Men's Soccer Nationals, on October 9-14, 2002. In front of a largely supportive crowd the Lions prevailed with a 1-0 victory over Lucania.

The Lions performed their game plan to perfection, demonstrating patience throughout the match, with the Lions defence neutralizing the Lucania strikers throughout the 90 minute contest.
The hard working Lions were rewarded for their efforts when Jorge Aguirre scored on a penalty kick in the 90th minute to give Sons of Italy its 4th Cup Championship in 8 years.

In a tightly contested match both teams fought hard with the Lions capitalizing at the end on a penalty awarded for a foul committed by the Lucania goaltender.

Both teams argued during the match that they could have been awarded penalties earlier in the game, but it was the Lions who had the closest opportunity to seize the victory when Ryan Dyck hit the cross bar late in the first half keeping the game scoreless. The match was officiated by World Cup 2002 official Hector Vergara, who did an excellent job allowing both teams to play throughout the intense contest.

Sons of Italy goaltender Steve Sawatzky recorded his third straight shutout in the 2002 Cup. The Lions outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 10-0 in the their three MSA Cup matches. Although Sawatzky was never tested with a difficult save in the match, he continued to control his area with perfection on all crosses he faced throughout the match.

The Lions lost defender Andrew Aitken in the second half with a suspected broken nose, a play in which Lucania Striker Marcello Paolucci received a yellow card. The Lions persisted with first year team member Justin Parry stepping in to fill the void of the veteran Aitken.

The Lions will now prepare to improve on their previous bronze medal showing at the last National Cup appearance the team attended in Nova Scotia.

Newfoundland Bound

August 25, 2002
Sons of Italy win title after controversial call

By ADAM WAZNY -- Winnipeg Sun

When there's little to choose from between two teams, sometimes the referee has to step in and decide the game.

At least that's how the coach of Lucania felt as his team fell to the Sons of Italy 1-0 at the Senior Men's Provincial Soccer Championship final at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex last night.

"I'm disappointed," Kevin Mackay said after his team lost to a perceived blown call. "We had a penalty against us in the first half and he let that go, because he said he wanted the players to decide the game.

"For the referee to make that kind of decision late in the game like that is very unfortunate."

Jorge Aguirre scored the only goal on a penalty kick in extra time, after the Lucania goal keeper tripped him up as the two players jostled for the ball. The referee ruled the goal keeper interfered with Aguirre before the touch, and awarded the free chance.

In the men's final, meanwhile, the referee in question was none other than Winnipeg's Hector Vergara, fresh off his stint at the World Cup last June in Japan and South Korea.

Mackay was less than impressed with the 'world-class' officiating Vergara brought to the game.

"What can I say," Mackay continued, frustrated with the outcome of the match. "Hector is a FIFA official and I guess he wants to keep his reputation as a guy who can make the big call.

"I'm very disappointed in that call."

Aguirre said he knew the breaks would sooner or later come for his team.

"We just knew that the team that made the least mistakes was going to win this game," he said, still beaming from his goal in the 90th minute. "We had a few chances earlier, but something always happened. We were hoping to catch a lucky break at the end, and we did."

Sons of Italy head coach Chic Devenney had nothing but praise for the opposition.

"Lucania is a great soccer team and they played a fabulous final," he said. "They were very strong, and we had to weather some early pressure from them in the first half. It was a terrific final."

Devenney said his team, which won their third provincial title, had to be patient to win.

"I told the players to just try and keep the discipline, knock the ball around, and wait to get the one opportunity we need.

"One chance is all you need in this game, and we took advantage."

Sons of Italy heading to MSA Cup Final

August 19, 2002
Sons of Italy exploded in the second half with four goals on route to a hard fought 4-0 victory over Ital-Inter in MSA Cup Semi-Final action.

The chippy match which saw two Ital-Inter players ejected late in the game, had both teams scoreless at halftime. Early in the second half, SOI striker Sean Margison scored two quick goals to put SOI ahead. Steve Rebizant followed up with two more goals, one of which he headed home on a beautifully crossed ball into the area. SOI goaltender Steve Sawatzky recorded his second consecutive cup shutout.

In other MSA Cup Semi-Final action Lucania was a 5-0 winner over Thistle. Sons of Italy will now make their 7th MSA Cup Final appearance in 8 years. Sons of Italy have won in 3 of those previous 6 MSA Cup Final matches.

The championship game between Sons of Italy and Lucania will take place on Saturday, August 24, 2002, at 6 P.M., at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex.
The winner will represent Manitoba in October, at the Senior Men's Club Nationals in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Sons of Italy Victorious versus Sokol in MSA Cup Quarter-Final Match

August 10, 2002
Sons of Italy dominated the previously undefeated Sokol Soccer Club in an impressive 5-0 cup victory before a largely supportive crowd at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex.

With 2 goals in the first half, and 3 in the second half while playing a man down, Sons of Italy forced Sokol to face bitter defeat in one of four MSA quarter-final matches.

The Lions struck early on a perfectly crossed ball by Ryan Dyck, finished impressively with a header by Sean Margison. Rob Cowie scored the second goal with an effective finish from close range. Early in the second half SOI went down a man with Andy Aitken receiving a second yellow card. SOI quickly struck however with ten men, when Steve Rebizant scored two second half goals. The Lions capped the scoring off with a second goal by Rob Cowie to put the match decisively away. Sokol was not without its chances, but SOI goaltender Steve Sawatzky was impressive early in the game stopping a dangerous Sokol free kick with a diving save. Late in the game Sawatzky secured the shutout with a spectacular save off a redirected Sokol shot.

Next up is Ital-Inter on Saturday, August 17, 2002, at 6 pm, at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex. The other Cup semi-final match will see Thistle take on defending MSA Cup champions Lucania, game time is also at 6 pm. The winners of these two matches will meet each other in the MSA 2002 Cup Final on Saturday, August 24.