John Grant & Jonathan Frasco, Sports Reporter
The Hawks have to console themselves with an at best fifth spot after losing the bronze medal qualifier in a 2-1 shootout to the Douglas Royals on Nov. 8.
The Hawks are defending back-to-back Provincial champs in 2018 and 2019.
Humber, who won the CCAA champs last year, will be fighting for the fifth spot when they face the Red Deer Kings on Nov. 9.
In a semi-final match versus the Vancouver Island University Mariners was met with cold weather and snow around the pitch, but those cold conditions wouldn’t stop Humber from getting off to a hot start.
Hawks midfielder Nicholas Machado set up defender Julian DeSousa for the first goal of the match giving Humber a 1-0 lead.
VIU tied the game at the 64-minute mark with a goal from defender Cole Senchar.
Humber took six shots on net desperately trying to avoid a penalty shootout, but VIU held ground not letting Humber recover the lead.
Humber would have to overcome shootouts once again to return to the finals to defend their title but VIU wouldn’t make it easy.
Defender Cody Green would bury Humber’s first attempt but VIU’s keeper would make the a save on Humber’s second attempt.
Both teams traded goals, but it was on Humber’s final attempt that VIU’s keeper would make a miraculous diving save sending the defending champions to the Bronze qualifier match on Nov. 8.
That save pushed the Mariners into the finals.
In a Nov. 6 game against Champlain Saint-Lambert Cavaliers, the Hawks came out on the winning side of a penalty shoot-out.
The Hawks started off the game playing very diligently, making the other team realize their prowess. Goals from Machado in the fourth minute and midfielder Max Ferrari gave the team a 2-0 lead early on in the first half.
However, Saint-Lambert did not falter and battled back, showing why they were competing in the quarter-finals. A goal in the 29th minute from Jared Leheta gave the team faith that they were still in the game.
The Hawks tried to hold onto their 2-1 lead, but Saint-Lambert equalized in the 53 minute tying up the game.
The Hawks would later grab the lead, but Saint-Lambert showed resilience and tied the game, sending the game into a penalty shootout.
Both keepers would have to show their keeping abilities because the game would be decided with their keeping mastery.
Humber scored all their goals in the penalty shootout.
However, it was MVP of the game goal keeper Nicholas Frenati’s save that won the shootout. He saved all but one shot.
Hawks head coach Michael Aquino said he was proud with the team’s performance.
“I think the boys did very well came out with enthusiasm and energy,” Aquino said.
A shattered Saint-Lambert team left the field, but their coach Mauro Di Ciocco had admiration for his team and how they battled back.
“They showed a lot of character all season,” Di Ciocco said. “The game started off tough very early on, and they battled back, so I’m very proud of the boys.”
However, he gave his praise to the Humber Hawks for being cool, calm and collected while winning in the shootout.
“They got a lot of experience, talented players, a good group, and they are well-coached and organized, So I think they can definitely make a run for it again,” Di Ciocco said Frenati, who was named Man of the Match, showed precisely why the Hawks are a team to be respected.
“A lot of emotions in that penalty shootout and a lot of instinct,” he said. “When you know where the first guy is going, it doesn’t change.”