Shirley’s Hardware wins VFA title in shootout

Shirley's nearly got on the board early from a corner kick, but Sports Haven keeper Rafa Maciel got a glove on the ball. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Shirley’s Hardware and Sports Haven hooked up in a marathon Vineyard Football Association Gilbert/Hammond cup final at Veterans Park, Tuesday night.

The teams played through 60 minutes of regulation play and two 10-minute periods of extra time with nothing between them and nothing to show on the scoreboard.

Which is not to say that the game was void of action. Both goalkeepers, Rafa Maciel and Nielio Pinheiro, were superb and each side had several near misses. The ball simply would not go into the onion bag.

Ultimately, the title was decided on soccer’s cruelest stage: the penalty kick shootout. With the day’s light nearly gone, Shirley’s put four balls in the twine to Sports Haven’s two and the cup was theirs.

For one Shirley’s player, the result carried a bit of poetic justice. Vander de Oliveira, known by all as “Buick” and one of the most elegant, well-respected players in the league, had the misfortune of scoring the season’s first goal — into his own net. Tuesday night, he scored the final penalty that sealed the championship for Shirley’s. Such is the beauty of sport.

Second round final

Sports Haven qualified for the cup final against regular season champion Shirley’s by rallying to defeat MV Celtic, 3-2, in the second round group stage final last Thursday.

The teams traded goals in the first half. Celtic converted a penalty midway through the second half to lead 2-1. Sports Haven countered with a late penalty to tie the match. Tom Shocky completed the Haven comeback with a goal in extra time