Monto Orthopedics wins Vineyard Football Association title

Monto Orthopedics were the class of the league this season and proved it in the Gilbert-Hammond Cup Final. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Regular season champions Monto Orthopedics took home the Gilbert-Hammond Cup and the Vineyard Football Association championship with a 6-1 thrashing of Coop de Ville on Thursday, August 30, at Veterans Park.

The cup win was payback for the Montos. Coop stunned the Sky Blues on August 29 with two late goals in a 2-1 victory in the league playoff final. Felipe Freitas put Monto up early in the first half but Geycles Castro and Gabriel Oliveira scored for Coop eight minutes apart with 10 minutes to play in regulation.

The Coop comeback set up Thursday’s rematch. The VFA uses a two-pronged structure, based closely on the European model, in which the regular season is treated as a separate entity from the cup or knockout (playoff) competition. The six teams play a regular season of 10 matches. The first place team is declared league champion.

Next, the teams are split into two groups of three, as in a tournament. The first place team heads Group A, and the second place side does the same in Group B. The teams play each other twice. The top four teams meet in the semifinals, followed by a final to decide the playoff champion.

Unless the same team wins both competitions, the regular season champ then plays the playoff winner in the Gilbert-Hammond Cup final for all the marbles.

In the final, Monto left no doubt who the better side was. The Sky Blues dominated from the opening whistle and poured in five goals by halftime.

Erly “Lee” Pinheiro scored a hat trick before the match was 20 minutes old. The Monto forward scored his first goal with a perfect strike from 20 feet out, headed the ball upstairs off of a deft lob from “Buick” de Oliveira for goal number two, and completed the trick by running down the right flank and blasting the ball into the left corner from 15 feet away.

Paulo Miranda made it 4-0 with a carbon copy of Pinheiro’s third goal. Late substitute Rueben Fitzgerald capped off the half by putting in a rebound from close range just inside the left post with seconds left before the break.

The teams traded goals in a nondescript second half. Vander Souza gave Coop some consolation with a late score. Thirsting for more, Coop pushed everyone up front on the attack and nearly scored a second. Monto countered and Paulo Miranda scored his second goal of the night into an open onion bag after faking out the Coop keeper and two defenders.

Although its season ended in disappointing fashion, Coop de Ville overcame a dismal 0-4-1 start to finish as league runners-up, playoff champions, and cup finalists.