Sunday night, August 14 at 7 p.m. at Generations Park in Hogansburg, the lights were on and the field was ready for the ultimate men’s league soccer title game. A matchup of two teams with similar skill sets, and talented players, faced off against one another. CKON (Salmon River) was the overall No. 1 seed after winning the regular season by a point over the rival Canton team. The two teams battled to a 1-1 draw early in the summer, and then Canton won the second matchup of the two, 6-3 at home a few weeks ago. 

Front row, from left: Eric Shinnik, Nate Butler, Travis Jordan, Ebuka Anonye, Jake Facey, Jake Mattice. Back row, from left: Teagan Jordan, Kingsley Wesley, Sam Martin, Jack Gardner, Jacob Oatman, Peyton Snell, Stuart Ayers, Nate Aldous, Lleyton Ladue. Missing from Photo: Nick Martinez, Holden Woods, Nate Woods, Colin Taylor, Nuri Lesbet, Connery Marsh, Owen Hall. (Photo courtesy of Al St. Pierre)

Both teams had to advance through two playoff rounds to get to this point. Canton defeated Ogdensburg (Pepsi) 7-3 in the quarterfinals, and then Colton 4-0 in the semifinals to reach the title game for the third time in the past 6 years. This game would prove to be the best possible matchup of the season, with the top two teams competing against each other for the coveted Men’s League Cup.

Both teams came out strong with multiple efforts on goal at both ends. Canton’s Peyton Snell almost converted an early chance with a volleyed effort going just narrowly wide of the CKON goal. CKON also created their own chances, but keeper Jake Mattice and the Canton defense, led by Teagan Jordan and Kingsley Wesley, provided stellar defense to clear any shots away from the Canton goal. The teams battled to a 0-0 draw through the first half. 

Coming out of the halftime break, Canton would almost take the 1-0 lead on a breakaway chance that was placed just over the goal by Jordan, on a perfectly placed through ball from Eric Shinnik. Both teams could not convert any of their chances in regulation, sending the game to sudden death overtime. 

This would prove to be Canton’s only OT game of the season, with the boys in red not sure how to handle the pressure. Early on in the first 15-minute OT session, Canton would put the pressure on the CKON defense. Nate Butler would slide a ball across the face of goal to the far post, but a CKON defender was able to just narrowly get a foot on it to clear it off the line to save the game. CKON would garner a few chances on the Canton net in OT, but Mattice stood tall adding a few more saves to his tally and preserve the shutout. 

About 10 minutes into the OT session, Eric Shinnik would toss a long throw in from the left sidelines near the corner flag, into the 18-yard box to Peyton Snell. Snell would take the ball down off his chest and lay it off to the top of the box where Ebuka Anonye was waiting to pounce on the loose ball and hit a left footed volley into the bottom corner of the net, ending the game and sending the boys in red, to the promised land, 1-0. The boys would celebrate on the field under the lights, swarming Anonye who scored the game-winner.

This was a game, and a season to remember for the boys in red. Battling through an entire regular season staying undefeated until the very last game, to winning multiple playoff games shorthanded, and ultimately sealing the title game with a sudden death victory under the lights.

“This is my third Men’s League Title, but this one feels the best. To win in sudden death overtime on the road like that, was just surreal,” said Jackson Gardner after the game. “Props to all the boys for competing as hard as they did, now it’s time to go celebrate.” 

Thank you to all the sponsors this year, we couldn’t have done it without all of you. Thank you Locke Design and Build, Canton Sergi’s, Josies Pizzeria, Potsdam Little Italy, K&S Cropping, and Stadium Sports Bar in Canton.

MVPs

Canton’s men’s league team had several players recognized after Sunday’s championship game as most valuable players. Travis Jordan was named Division 1 Offensive MVP for the season, while Ebuka Anonye was named Offensive MVP for the Championship game and Jake Mattice was named Defensive MVP for the Championship game. Other MVPs for the season include Demba Ba from CKON, who was awarded season Defensive MVP for Division 1, Hanz Schumaker of Potsdam as Division 2 Offensive MVP and Ansen Herrick of Potsdam as Division 2 Defensive MVP.

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