Exactly two weeks after dropping their first regular season matchup with SRSA men's soccer powerhouse Croatia Adria by a final score of 3-0, Sudbury Athletic Voima opened competition in the Dieder Alasat Cup with a 4-3 (4-2) win, on penalty kicks, over the very same opponent.
It was not the first upset the Athletic crew have pulled, over the past few years, in Cup play, though a touch of luck certainly factored in. With the score deadlocked at 3-3, Croatia was awarded a penalty kick in the dying minutes, only to drill the shot directly off the goal post and right back into the hands of keeper Mathieu Paradis.
With no overtime involved for Cup games, the teams were back at the 12-yard mark minutes later, tied at three, with the contest hanging in the balance. After Gabriel Rodrigues scored on the first Voima attempt, the team again caught a break.
Sure-footed Laurentian alumnus Mike Asunmaa drilled the first Adria attempt clean off the crossbar. Following an Athletic miss, Marco Armiento pulled Croatia Adria even, with Ko Korenromp (Voima) and Damir Zekic (Croatia Adria) traded goals moments later.
Rodesse Boucher made good on the fourth attempt for the Athletic, before Paradis came through big time, denying Mathew Dykstra and allowing Chris Gislon to clinch the encounter.
Kevin Jeanveau led the winners in regulation time with a two-goal effort, with Ryan Gasparetto adding a solo tally, while Armiento, with two, and Fal Diasso replied for Croatia Adria.
Playing just about every single position on the pitch until an injury, at age 16, moved him to keeper, Paradis noted a gradual adjustment to the very large nets. "Just getting used to your net, and being aware of what's going on around you - it takes a little bit of time," he said.
Now in his third year with the Athletic, the quick-footed keeper differs somewhat from others in the league, preferring to read the ball off the foot when it comes to trying to stop penalty kicks.
"I honestly think you have to wait," he said. "You can't guess. I try and wait until it's struck, and I hope to God I move quickly enough and get the hand out. If you're not as quick, then maybe you have to guess."
With the win, Sudbury Athletic Voima will now face Sudbury United FC in one of two semifinal battles, with the Italia Flyers and Sudbury Athletic Fury going toe to toe in the other.
Paradis and his crew can hardly wait.
"We're excited every time we step on the field," he said. "It's just a great group of guys. And a lot of those boys left our club to play for them (United), so it should be a bit of a grudge match," he added.
Games on Thursday begin at 7 p.m. at Queen's Athletic Field, with the final of the Dieder Alasat Cup slated for Tuesday, July 1 at 7 p.m. on the turf at the James Jerome Sports Complex.