London Portuguese cup hopes shut down

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 6:30 AM ET

VAUGHAN -- London Portuguese can kiss Anne of Green Gables goodbye. The powerhouse men's soccer team stumbled one game from a trip to the national club championships in Charlottetown, P.E.I., with a surprising 3-0 loss to the Ottawa Royals in the Ontario Cup tle game last night at the Ontario Soccer Centre.

It's the third time since 1998 Portuguese has lost in the final. They won in 2002 and were trying to become just the second London team to claim two men's Cup crowns (London Marconi won in 1966 and 1978).

"It's disappointing, it wasn't our day but we're going to hold our heads up high," said London keeper Paul Azevedo. "We've lost this thing three times, but there's got to be something said for getting to the finals year after year. We're in it all the time and we'll be back next year to give it another shot."

The spirited Ottawa side, which carried much of the play, got goals in the 43rd minute from Dan Cheney, the 47th from Sylvain Clouthier and the capper in the 87th from Roland Tiamuh.

The Portuguese players couldn't recall the last time they were shut out.

It didn't help that veteran striker Andrew Loague injured his left leg in a collision with teammate Mike Delgado just three minutes in.

Loague limped around while play resumed but was forced to leave at the seven-minute mark. The talented Delgado also left for a lengthy spell after being kicked in the face while sliding for a loose ball.

"I've never felt such pain," said Loague, 34. "It's my ankle and my knee. I would've played injured and I did everything I could to stay in there, but there was no way. I wanted to give it a shot at halftime but I took a pass on the sidelines and it was a sharp jolt and I knew that was it."

The injury allowed Ottawa to better mark London's remaining goal-kicker Ree San. Genti Buzali, Loague's natural replacement, was well across the Atlantic Ocean on a pre-planned trip to Albania to visit his parents.

"Loague getting hurt -- that was our worst nightmare," said head coach Carlos Miranda said. "I had to throw (midfielder) Alan Hirmiz, who's one of our best up-and-down (the field) guys, up front. He did a good job but it took him away from what he does best in the midfield. I knew in the first 10 minutes it wasn't our day, we looked nervous. Ottawa played superb, they beat us to every possible ball and we just didn't match them, simple as that."

Ottawa did have one advantage over Portuguese -- a core group of the players won last year's title with Kanata Soccer Post and had experience on the Soccer Centre's FIFA approved artificial FieldTurf.

"This is a great facility and we're not trying to make excuses, but soccer should be played on grass," Miranda said. "Our guys hadn't been on the surface before and never really got used to it."

On a whole, it was one of the worst Cup final weekends for London. All four local teams lost their finals and failing to score a goal. The Under-13 girls London United Hurricanes lost 1-0 to Burlington on penalty kicks.

Over the two weekends, London sent eight teams to Cup finals and had two champions: the London Supernova Under-14 girls and the London United Under-12 girls. The Supernova advance to the national championships in October at the Soccer Centre.