’97 Nationals capture Quebec-Ontario Cup


There wasn’t much time to celebrate a momentous victory for the talented under 17 Windsor Nationals soccer team after taking the provincial league championship on September 6th. They were more than ecstatic to achieve something no other Windsor team had been able to achieve, being crowned the champions of the highest leveled soccer league in the province, the OYSL (Ontario Youth Soccer League).

Still on an adrenalin high, coach Mike Pio had only one week to plan for another trip, this time all the way in Montreal, Quebec. For the past ten years, the champions of the provincial Ontario and Quebec leagues have come together in October to play in the Quebec-Ontario Cup where the victor would have the bragging rights of being the best inter-provincial league championship team of the two biggest provinces in Canada. Realizing the significance to our local soccer community the Essex County Soccer Association (ECSA) was more than happy to offer their financial support to help cover travel expenses for the very deserving squad who had more important things to focus on.

One more time, after a very long, exhausting, emotional season, the Windsor Nationals made the 900 km trek down the 401. This time they would face a team they knew nothing about, the year older U18 Huntsic Braves, from the Montreal region of Quebec. The affair would consist of two matches; the team with the most points being crowned the inter-provincial champion. On the Saturday, Windsor had to come from behind twice to finish with a well-deserved 2-2 tie against a very physically strong Quebec team with a late goal from mid-fielder Stefan Zastovnikovic. But Team Ontario (Windsor) was very happy with their performance, especially with their ability to stay on course while coming from behind. They were anxious to prove on the Sunday that they were the better of the two teams.

On Sunday, the weather was perfect for soccer. It was a warm, sunny fall afternoon. Although the boys were sore and bruised from the previous day’s battle, the resolve on their faces showed they were ready to finish what they started – win another championship. Once again, the game tempo was back and forth. Then in the 40th minute, striker Noah Pio stripped the ball away from one of the D’Huntic Braves defenders and dribbled down the field and scoring unassisted and giving the Nationals a one to nothing lead – a lead they would not relinquish! Team Ontario’s Windsor Nationals captured the title of Quebec-Ontario Cup champions!

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