Tagg’s, who sit atop the local men’s soccer league, went into last weekend’s “Borderland Ball Blast ’97” tourney stressing defence.
And it paid off.
After reeling off three straight shutouts, Tagg’s held Peach Valley (Dryden) scoreless through regulation time and the 10-minute overtime in Sunday’s final before winning the game 3-1 on penalty kicks.
“Our game plan was to play four defencemen, four mid-fielders and just two forwards," noted Thor Ruppenstein, who scored the first Tagg’s marker on a penalty kick. ”Our goal was to prevent other teams from scoring.
“Our defence was an outstanding performance by the whole team,” he enthused.
After Ruppenstein scored on his penalty kick, Dryden replied with a goal of their own to tie it at 1-1.
But Mike Webb scored for Tagg’s, and then keeper Greg Wiedenhoeft made a dazzling stop to his right to keep Tagg’s ahead 2-1—setting the stage for Gord Keesic’s marker to ice the victory and the title.
But despite their defensive prowess, Tagg’s also had trouble hitting the twine in their two round-robin games and then two playoff matchups, failing to score during regulation time in all four.
They opened with a pair of 0-0 draws against Gillons’ and Peach Valley to finish second in Pool ‘A’ behind the Dryden crew (1-0-1). Gillons’ placed third, finishing with a 0-1-1 mark.
Meanwhile, Nova finished atop Pool ‘B’ with a 1-0-1 record thanks to a 1-0 win over the Falls Falcons and a 2-2 draw with ITS.
The Falcons finished second (1-1), earning a 1-0 victory over ITS, which ended up winless (0-1-1).
The top two teams from each pool advanced to the semi-finals, which had the first-place winner meeting the second-place team from the other pool.
All games throughout the six-team tourney were defensive battles, including Tagg’s 1-0 overtime victory over Nova on the strength of Webb’s goal.
Dryden reached the final with a 4-3 victory over the Falcons on penalty kicks.
The consolation final also went to penalty kicks, with the Falcons earning a 3-1 win over Nova.
Neil Bliss gave Nova a 1-0 lead with a goal in the first half but Steve Hands forced overtime when his shot hit the twine. Nothing was settled in the 10-minute extra frame, forcing the game to be decided on penalty kicks.
And that’s where the Falls took control, scoring a pair of goals by Salem Seid and Ian Scott for the win.