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Devlin’s diving clearance spurs Drillers comeback win over Calgary United


A diving goal-line clearance from the Edmonton Drillers’ elder statesman has given the club a massive lead in the Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League standings.

Calgary United held a 4-2 lead in the third quarter of Saturday’s tilt at Edmonton’s Soccer Centre South and was simply dominating the game — outchancing, outpassing the Drillers. Calgary’s Arthur Paszkowski looked sure to make it a 5-2 game; on a break, he rounded Drillers’ keeper Jay Vetsch and rolled the ball towards the open goal.

But Chris Devlin, who spent the 2004 season in the USL with the Edmonton Aviators/Edmonton FC franchise, hustled back, threw himself at the goal line, and got enough of the ball to deflect it just wide. That play energized the Drillers; the team scored three unanswered goals in the third to take a 5-4 lead by the end of the third quarter, and went on to a 7-5 win.

“It was big,” said Driller Mike McCormick, whose hat trick keyed the comeback. “The momentum definitely shifted after that. Things weren’t that positive on our bench. But after that moment, everyone got pumped up.”

“The funny thing is that, at halftime, I told the team we had to be better on our clearances,” said Drillers coach Kevin Poissant. “Our clearances had to be more positive. And, as the elder statesman on our team, I held up Chris to be better with clearances. And then he goes and makes that play.”

McCormick missed a penalty shootout attempt in the second quarter after Paul Dhaliwal, another ex-Aviator, was hauled down from behind by the last defender back, Calgary’s Mat Arok. McCormick popped the ball into the air and tried to lob an attempt over charging United keeper Marcel Galaszkiewicz. But the shot didn’t drop in time.

But McCormick scored twice in the third, one from close range off a goalmouth scramble, and another screamer of a shot from outside the box. After Calgary’s Felix Napuri tied the game 5-5 with a tap-in just seconds into the fourth quarter, McCormick got the hat trick and winning goal with another screamer from distance.

“I definitely had to redeem myself,” said McCormick. “I started shooting the ball. The first goal was pretty scrappy, but the second and third were pretty clean.”

The game did have some nasty moments. Marcus Johnstone and Damir Jesic were penalized for tussling with each other, and Johnstone later saw yellow for unsportsmanlike conduct. After Jesic scored Calgary’s second goal of the game, he blew a kiss in the direction of the fans’ gallery.

Calgary’s Konrad Paszkowski left the game clutching his knee after a second-quarter collision along the boards. He watched the second half from the stands. The referees got earfuls from both teams.

“These players know each other really well,” said Drillers coach Kevin Poissant. “They play each other all time, here and in the Alberta Major league.”

Calgary’s task is simple. United (now 3-3 on the season) trail the 6-2 Drillers in the CMISL standings. On Sunday, United needs to sweep the last-place Winnipeg Alliance just to stay in touch with the Drillers. If United can sweep, next Saturday’s game between Calgary and Edmonton will be a battle for first. If United lose one of the two games against Winnipeg, the Drillers’ lead could be insurmountable.

The winner of the CMISL goes to the Professional Arena Soccer League finals in Cincinnati.

“They split with Winnipeg last time, which was a surprise to me,” said Poissant. “But I do expect them (Calgary) to get six points.”

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One Comment

  1. Chuck

    February 16, 2011 at 4:36 am

    Devlin should retire….he’s old enough to be everyones father!!

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