CANMORE – Like Godzilla and King Kong battling for ultimate supremacy, the top dogs in the Bow Valley Soccer League didn’t give up an inch in their big showdown.
The Banff Springs and Canmore United drew 1-1 in the undefeated teams' match last Thursday (Aug. 12) at Canmore’s Millennium Field.
It was the second time the clubs drew against each other on the six-game season calendar.
“It's a shame that in our two games they've finished 1-1 and we can't be split, but it's probably fair and shows the quality of both teams,” said Robert Weir, Springs’ manager/centre back.
“They are a great side and you can see why they are unbeaten for as long as they have been.”
Goal scorers were Springs’ Christoph Bruckeder and Canmore United’s Gjoa Carr.
With United's near two-season undefeated streak on the line, a quick goal by Bruckeder in the first half gave Springs the early advantage against 2019’s champions and put United in an awkward spot that they haven't been in a long while – trailing.
“We started well with getting the goal, but you can tell there was a nervous energy in the air,” said Weir.
However, the 1-0 lead only lasted momentarily and a few minutes later, United’s Carr booted a deep lob from the sideline about 40 yards out to beat the Springs’ keeper to even things up.
"I think we were a little bit sleepy at the beginning and they get lucky and score a goal in six minutes," said Libor Kreml, a coach/player with Canmore United. "That kind of turned everything around. We haven't been down in a game for a while and we woke up and tied it up."
Both teams weren’t playing it safe in the potential league-winning game and each had striking opportunities to find the back of the net.
But no better chance came in the second half with time nearing expiration when United keeper Luigi Mincone came face-to-face with the biggest moment of the game.
After a Springs striker beat United defenders and had a clear shot point-blank on net, Mincone's quick reflexes powered him to make a diving one-handed game-saving stop to keep the score one all and gave the crowd and players on both teams something to buzz about.
"The [Springs] striker actually placed it really well, but Luigi, I don't know what happened, but he made the save and kept us in," said Kreml.
"It was pretty much a big battle. I have to give them credit. They played defence very well and they only played for breakaways and we tried to force it and sometimes that doesn't work."
Current standings are Canmore United and Banff Springs are undefeated with 11 points each, with Springs holding a plus two goal differential.
Pump and Tap has six points and Rundle FC is still looking to crack its goose egg.
To close out the regular season, Springs plays Rundle FC Thursday (Aug. 19) at 7 p.m. at OLS field in Canmore and United plays Pump Sunday (Aug. 22) at 11 a.m. at Millennium Field.
Should both undefeated teams win, Springs would have to maintain its better score differential to win the league.
“All attention turns to Thursday (Aug. 19) where we each need to win for a chance to win the league,” said Weir. “Our boys are excited for that one but we know that even though Rundle are yet to get a point that they possess the quality to upset the party.”
Following the season, a year-ending tournament takes place Aug. 29.