Calcio d'oro(c5a)
01 Apr

There are games – finals, even – that transcend soccer.

Every last Calcio D’Oro player who showed up to the Thursday night championship showdown would have understood the true weight of the task at hand. The black armbands they all wore would have spoken past a simple love of the game, but to the very fragility of life itself – sadly forgotten and too often taken for granted.

The funeral of longtime friend and teammate Danny Petti, held literally right before this important game, would crush but not deter his grieving squad, who must have known that their beloved DP would have forced them to play. DP, the calm, collected and extremely agile keeper, whose childhood love affair with all things soccer and Juventus would be matched only by the love for his young family in adulthood. The life of a passionate man with a huge heart and a great sense of humour, cut tragically short.

And so, following a touching minute of silence shared between Calcio D’Oro and Flamengo, both teams got down to the business of settling the C5A Championship.

It proved to be a fairly sleepy and tentative start for both teams. That seemed to work in Flamengo’s favour, as Yousof Sangar’s game-opening goal earned him a shoeshine celebration. The striker would double his squad’s lead seconds before the first half whistle. Despite some halftime cajoling by longtime coach Mike Paladino, it was clear Calcio D’Oro didn’t have their heads in the game. Maybe fatigue from their earlier Motovan final (a rollercoaster affair that ended with two late second-half goals and Nick D’Anello’s OT winner) had set in. If there was any more reason to be emotionally spent.

And for the better part of the second half, Calcio D’Oro seemed almost resigned to the loss. They had conceded the middle. Their stretch passes reached no strikers. Flamengo missed many opportunities to put the game away.

And then something just gave. An unnecessary Flamengo offensive gamble spawned a counterattack that Marc Araish did not miss. With only minutes to play, the pace became more frenetic. And somehow, a harmless pickoff in Calcio D’Oro’s own end ended up on Marc’s foot smack in the opposing crease – a split-second opportunity he would not squander. His bench erupted as the final whistle blew. Two consecutive finals sandwiched around tragedy had now gone exactly the same way. And like FC Enfom before them, the Flamengo bench must have understood this wasn’t going to be their night either. Araish would complete the hat trick in the first minute of the second overtime, smoking one past the keeper while hugging the right touchline.

Somewhere, DP must have been beaming. “This was definitely an emotional win,” explained Richard Syring. “Having to play the same night definitely took a toll on our team. That fact that we pulled off the comeback and won this championship made it that much more special. There is no doubt DP played a big part in us winning!”