Calgary Soccer Team Travels to Championships in Michigan
Metro News, September 2016. Find the original article here.
Photo: Courtesy of Calgary Foothills FC
It will be a tale of David vs. Goliath as Calgary’s best young soccer players travel to Michigan to compete for soccer supremacy over the weekend.
Calgary Foothills Football Club is headed to Pontiac, MI to compete for the Premier Development League Championship on Saturday night. The PDL is considered the top men’s amateur soccer league in North America.
Not too shabby for a team that was given a four per cent chance of winning their division in a pre-season poll. The Calgary side won’t exactly be favourites in the final either, when they face off against the top-ranked Michigan Bucks on their home field.
The Bucks as a franchise hold nearly every PDL record, won the PDL Championship as recently as 2014, and feature two All-League players in Lalas Abubaker and captain Tom Owens.
On the other hand this is just the second season of existence for Foothills FC, and you could argue that they are lucky to have captured the Northwest Division crown with a 3-0 win over the Ocean City Nor’easters to book their ticket to the finals.
But head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. is embracing the underdog status.
“I love low odds. It’s something that inspires the boys…we use that to our advantage and continue to improve,” said Wheeldon Jr. He described his team as "road warriors" because of their success away from Glenmore Athletic Park on the path to finals, which included stops in Seattle, Tuscon, and New Jersey.
One of those warriors is Calgary-native and All-League Team selection Dominic Russo, a force for the team in the playoffs.
“[Dominic] is an absolute handful, whether he is scoring goals or creating chaos,” Wheeldon Jr. said about his player’s ability to put pressure on the opposing team.
If they do win over the weekend, both Wheeldon Jr. and Russo have an idea of how they'll celebrate.
“Hopefully champagne showers or something like that,” said 21-year-old Russo.
“To be honest, me, I’ll probably collapse exhausted and have a glass of wine with my wife," said Wheeldon Jr.