Canada’s top futsal club
It was a spectacular display all weekend with many surprises but the biggest shock of the competition came in the men’s final, which featured Canada’s only undefeated team, Toronto Idolo, taking on last year’s top team and defending Futsal Canada Champions, Toronto Boca Juniors.
Toronto Idolo: 2015 Futsal Canada Men’s and Varsity High School Champions
*Both championship matches can be seen in their entirety on TV Cogeco all week long with the voice of futsal, Kyle Compeau calling the action. Check local TV listings for scheduled broadcasts.
The 2015 Futsal Canada National Tournament made big strides this year with more top talent from across the country participating at the superb Queen’s University ARC facility on two full sized FIFA courts in the scenic city of Kingston, Ontario.
The competition also featured the best officiating in any Canadian futsal tournament. The referee team was led by two FIFA Futsal Referee Instructors and Assessors, Bob Tibbo (Ottawa) and Ed Marco (Philadelphia), who added world class referee direction and guidance. The only FIFA Futsal Referee in the US or Canada, Shane Butler (St. Louis), was a special guest, owing to the strong relationship between the futsal programs of the United States and Canada, an alliance which only continues to move the sport forward.
Saturday evening also honoured one of Canadian futsal’s finest as Ottawa’s Karl Gray was awarded the first ever Futsal Canada Hall of Fame Induction for his vast contributions to the growth of the sport for well over 25 years. Karl was the catalyst in building the largest futsal league in Canada, the OCFL, while also working hard to ensure the legacy of fellow builder Bob Rathwell by creating the Bob Rathwell Memorial Futsal Tournament. He has also acted as a valuable mentor to many futsal workers across the country and is a undeniably a true pioneer and builder of futsal in Canada.
The tournament games themselves provided plenty of entertainment and saw the emergence of many teams including Futsal Sudbury, featuring the strong play of Daniel Radu. We saw many future stars including 16 year-old Charles Jalbert of Gaspé, who scored quite possibly the greatest futsal goal ever scored on Canadian soil with a jaw-dropping rainbow flick during the group stage on Saturday that received a standing ovation from everyone.
VARSITY HIGH SCHOOL BOYS CHAMPIONSHIP
Coming off a heart breaking extra time loss the week before in the city championships to provincial rivals Brampton Bulldogs, the Idolo boys came into the tournament looking to avenge that defeat. In a testy affair that opened up the competition with a 7-7 draw, a red card was issued to star player Jon Alec Duenas. Idolo went on to edge out a very tough London Canadians side before suffering a defeat to a very resilient Gaspé squad in their final group match, finishing 1-1-1.
Brampton were able to beat London in their final group stage match to setup the 5th and final encounter of the season between the two highly talented teams. These teams were so evenly matched this year that a mere total of three goals separated them in their four prior matches combined.
Officiating the match was Migen Masha (Saskatoon) as 1st official, Filip Dujic (Toronto) in the 2nd role, and David Figliano (Toronto) as 3rd.
Idolo started out strong, opening with a pair of goals from Duenas, and they dictated the pace of the first half before Brampton came back with a set of goals courtesy of Brandon Pao to make it 4-2 at halftime. The 2nd half saw both teams open up their offences a lot more, with an on-fire Duenas notching a hat trick in the half, a very impressive five goals in the match. Brampton tried hard but with a backup goalkeeper and two key injuries they were not able to match the quality of Toronto on this day. Carlos Cabrera added a goal while the light-footed Joe Vitulli added a pair to compliment Duenas’ masterful performance en route to a convincing 8-3 victory for the title.
Vitulli was awarded the tournament’s Most Valuable Player Award for his spectacular play through the competition, while Duenas won the Golden Boot for his 13 goals.
MEN’S SEMI FINALS
Given the high quality teams that made it to the semi-finals it was a crapshoot to predict who would make the final. Toronto Idolo defeated Barrie FC for the Bob Rathwell Memorial title back in January and despite valiant performances from Barrie’s Edwin Gutierrez (2 goals) and Bryan Da Cruz (1), Idolo were led by Canadian Futsal International Matthew Rios’ hat trick and were able to produce a strong 7-3 result. Roberto Galle (2), Jacob Orellana (1), and Damian Graham (1) provided the rest of the offense for Toronto.
The other semi-final featured a rematch of last year’s epic championship as the defending champions from Toronto Boca Juniors were able to defeat the Quebec Premiere League Champions, Albiceleste, with a 3-0 win anchored by a Josh Lemos shutout. Harry Ahumada, Pablo Andrada, and Josh Parades all scored for Toronto Boca.
Centre court at Queen’s University was at fever pitch for the men’s final, given the rivalry between both Toronto sides. Idolo had defeated Toronto Boca in all three of their previous meetings this season, including a 2-1 nail biter in last week’s Toronto championship. Coming into the match Idolo remained the only undefeated men’s team in the nation.
Both teams featured Canadian National Team Players including the incredibly skilled Rios and Leo Laurito for Idolo, while Boca was led by 2012 CONCACAF hero Josh Lemos in net. The game featured excellent officiating with USA/Canada’s only FIFA Futsal Referee in Shane Butler (St. Louis) as 1st official, Alex Cherynykh (Ottawa) as 2nd referee and Gilmar Hernandez (Montreal) as the third.
Both championship games were broadcast live on television by official media partner Cogeco while local hotspot Tango Nuevo provided a brilliant Saturday night dinner and cocktail reception for the entire cast. The game balls were provided once again from Umbro Canada while Powerade fuelled the players during matches.
The game saw both teams move the ball around well with both goalkeepers holding down the fort. The first goal came after a brutal Boca turnover was converted. Another critical defensive error saw Idolo capitalize again to go up 2-0 by what was an evenly played half.
The second half saw Boca attempt to muster some better goal scoring opportunities but the Idolo defense was strong and tight pushing them to the outside and limiting them to long range shots which goalkeeper Luigi Caruso easily handled.
Idolo notched their third and most decisive goal five minutes in and followed that up shortly after to go up 4-0. Lemos appeared to pull a hamstring after that and Boca’s backup came in. Unfortunately for him Idolo continued the pressure up front with Rios blasting a shot up in the top corner that took any remaining wind out of Boca’s sails. Idolo added two more goals to take the 2015 Futsal Canada Championship in stunning fashion with a 7-0 victory that was much closer than what the scoreline would indicate.
Damien Graham added to Idolo’s hardware as he was selected as the tournament’s MVP for sensational performances in every match that were crucial to the team’s championship run. Graham celebrated with an entertaining dance and giant leap onto his team in a memorable tournament moment. Last year’s tournament leading scorer Robert Renaud shared the Golden Boot this time around with Matthew Rios with 9 each.
The 2016 edition of the tournament will once again take place at Queen’s University in late April/Early May.