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Canmore United take ‘driver’s seat’ with crucial victory

“I have to say I really wanted this. I thought about it all the time."

BANFF – Canmore United delivered a backbreaker to the Bow Valley Soccer League.

The league’s top team’s narrow 1-0 victory over No. 2 Banff Springs FC on Sunday (Aug. 7) has a three-peat in the grasp of the defending champions.

“It just puts us in the driver’s seat,” said Canmore United coach Libor Kreml. “Basically if we win on Thursday (Aug. 11), no one can keep up with us anymore.”

Canmore United faces off against Rundle FC, the last place squad, Thursday at 7 p.m. at Millennium Park in Canmore.

Up four points over Banff Springs with two games remaining, one more win (three points) for United secures the league championship.

“It’s not over yet. We have a four-point lead and we have to win one of the next two games,” said Kreml.

“Like I said, anyone can win any game in this league.”

Although, the writing is on the wall for others.

“For a team that hasn’t lost in about three or four years, we’re hoping they’ll lose one and draw one in their last two games, but I just don’t see it happening,” said Robert Weir, Banff Springs FC’s coach/centre.

“I have to say I really wanted this. I thought about it all the time, so I can least ease the mind in that sense and have a fun last couple of games.”

Last season, Banff Springs was nudged out of the championship in the last game of the season to Canmore United. It came down to goals for/goals against for the two undefeated teams as they faced off against Pump and Tap FC and Rundle FC in the season finales with United pulling ahead by plus-one on goals differential. United also won the league in 2019.

Due to this, Canmore United has had a target on its back and Sunday’s affair in Banff wasn’t a typical afternoon matinee. A high stakes feel was in the air and a single mistake from either side would come at a big price in the pivotal league match-up.

After no scoring in a tightly contested first half that saw plenty of mind games on the pitch, things boiled over in the final 45 minutes between the rivals.

A rookie Banff Springs FC player was thrown out of the game after blurting out a threat to a Canmore United player. The ref handed out the single red card ­– the first card issued – after several verbal warnings to the Springs player during the game. The lead-up to the heated incident happened when a United player ran by and allegedly patted the upper body/head of the Springs player.

“If that guy had been with us all season, he wouldn’t have done that because he would have known what [Canmore United] was all about and they were getting in his head,” said Weir.

On the team’s rivalry, Kreml said: “It’s always like that [when] both teams are still in it. Some guys take it more seriously than the others. We play a hard game all the time, and we try to stay away from chirping its never good for anybody.”

Once Springs went down to 10 players with a lot of time still left in the half, Weir said the game’s dynamic changed and United began to press the action with an extra man.

At the 25-minute mark, United’s Ivan Babikov rushed up the sideline uncontested and soared a pass in front of Springs’ net where striker Mattias Mardones made no mistake and booted in the game’s only goal.

Fighting to the end, Banff Springs FC took the battle to United in the final minutes, but were unable to tie things up before the game-ending whistle.

“For just a small Bow Valley league, for us to have the quality we have, if people are coming down to watch that they’re getting good quality football, they’re getting competitive football and aggressive football,” said Weir. “We’re a good advert for the league, but unfortunately twice now we’ve just come up a little short.”


Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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