By Ustad Khaira
Third time’s the charm for Humber, as the men’s soccer team won gold at Nationals, defeating the Vancouver Island University Mariners in the final.
This year’s tournament in British Columbia was the third consecutive year the Hawks competed for the national title, winning a bronze medal in 2010 and finishing a disappointing fifth in 2011. Hawks defender Roberto Galle said past failures weighed on the team throughout the competition.
“From the start it was on our minds,” Galle told Humber News. “But they (the coaches) just told us to play our game from the start. We’ve gelled together throughout the playoffs and Nationals, so they just told us to keep going.”
Wins over Francois-Xavier Garneau and the Seneca Sting saw Humber through to the final where they met the Mariners.
The match was a hard-fought contest with both teams exchanging a pair of goals in the 90 minutes to send the game to extra time. The Humber players were aware they had more than just the Mariners to contend with as the game was played in front of a hostile, pro-Mariners crowd.
“The game was intense, we had the crowd against us the whole game,” said Galle. “Just to win and see their face(s) after was amazing.”
Humber’s Yousif Yousif told Humber News the crowd lit a fire under the team.
“It was very disrespectful to be talking so much about us,” said Yousif. “Using foul language to our players on the sidelines, even to (Humber athletic director) Doug Fox. We took a beating from those fans. It’s very disrespectful when somebody throws a beer at our coaching staff, that shows no class whatsoever. But we won, and that’s all that matters.”
After an additional 30 minutes of extra time kept the score at 2-2, the final was to be decided by penalty kicks. Midfielder Yousif stepped up after each team had scored six in the shootout to put away the decisive spot kick.
Yousif was left at a loss for words to describe the feeling.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” he said. “As soon as I knew it was me taking the kick, I was thinking about Marcelo (Capozollo), I was thinking about Berto (Roberto Galle), I was thinking about Mesa (Assistant Coach Jason Mesa), I was thinking about everybody. I couldn’t miss, I had to bury that.”
Fox stressed how important it was for the Hawks to get back on top of the country after consecutive attempts.
“It was one of the most exciting wins I’ve ever seen. For many of the guys, it was their last game, so there were tears of joy at the end,” said Fox. “It takes pressure off the coaches that they can’t perform.”
Humber’s previous national titles came in 1995 and 2001, both in Medicine Hat.