Ottawa Fury FC entertained the visiting San Antonio Scorpions in front of 2,432 fans on a sunny evening in Canada's capital, and lost 3-2 on a last-gasp goal from San Antonio's Tomasz Zahorski.
Both sides converted penalties, and both the Scorpions and Fury FC scored one beautiful goal apiece from play. The difference, for the second time this season for Fury FC, was a conceded goal deep in extra time off of a set piece.
Fury FC almost broke through in the seventh minute, as Oliver found himself all alone on Scorpions 'keeper David Bingham only to have the play called back for a previous foul on Fury FC's Vini Dantas. While the obvious decision seemed to be an advantage, the referee decided to call the play back for a free kick, denying Oliver of a clear-cut scoring opportunity. The Brazilian winger skied the ensuing free kick well over the San Antonio net, and Fury FC had let an opportunity slip through their fingers.
The visitors from Texas nearly opened the scoring on sixteen minutes, when Sainey Touray used his footspeed to create an opportunity for himself, streaking into the Fury FC 18-yard box down the right flank before being denied superlatively by charging Ottawa 'keeper Devala Gorrick.
The match began to heat up in the 24th minute, when Fury FC centre back Mason Trafford went in hard on Scorpions winger Sainey Touray- earning himself a yellow card from referee Chris Grabas. After a moment of rolling around on the pitch, Touray was able to walk off and continue.
San Antonio attacked with numbers in the 30th minute, culminating with a Tomasz Zahorski cannon which rose above the Fury net and out of play, as the visitors flexed their offensive muscles for the second time on the evening.
Just two minutes later the Scorpions challenged the Fury defence yet again, with Touray using his pace to create a golden opportunity for San Antonio, breaking in alone on Gorrick only to shank his right-footed effort wide.
Fury FC zapped the home crowd to life in the 43rd minute, when a nice left-flank link-up allowed Spanish left back Ramon Soria to send a quality ball into the San Antonio 18-yard box, but the ball was headed to a Scorpion defender by a jumping Oliver, who elected to make a headed pass instead of directing his effort towards David Bingham's net.
Neither side made any substitutions at halftime, as both coaches felt they'd had satisfactory first halves.
Ottawa surged forward directly after the restart, with Vini Dantas' 46th minute shot from a tough angle rolled dangerously through the Scorpions' six-yard box, with no Fury players able to tap it home.
Fury FC received a glorious scoring opportunity in the 52nd, when striker Vini Dantas was chopped down by San Antonio defender Adrian Cann just outside of the 18-yard box. In-form Ottawa midfielder Tony Donatelli, fresh off of back-to-back NASL 'Team of the Week' nominations, curled the free kick right into the waiting arms of Bingham, spoiling a quality chance for the hosts.
Completely against the run of play, San Antonio won a corner kick in the 57th minute. A superb delivery by Danny Barrera was perfectly headed by Greg Janicki just out of the reach of a fully-extended Gorrick and into the net, giving the Scorpions an unexpected one-nil lead.
Marc dos Santos opted for a change at the back in the 67th minute, lifting Spanish left back Ramon Soria in favour of Maykon, recently returning from injury.
Ottawa caught a break in the 70th minute, when San Antonio defender Julius James got his studs up on Ottawa striker Vini Dantas inside the Scorpions' penalty area. Despite the boisterous protests from the visitors, referee Grabas emphatically pointed to the spot. Up stepped none other than red-hot Tony Donatelli, and the Philly boy converted the penalty past Bingham to level the hosts and bring the Keith Harris Stadium faithful to their feet. With the goal, Donatelli moved into a tie for the league lead in scoring.
Fury FC then took the lead on eighty minutes, when Sinisa Ubiparipovic finished off a lovely passing play with Tony Donatelli by curling a finesse shot around 'keeper David Bingham. Ubiparipovic's first of the season brought with it a passionate celebration that made the Fury faithful cheer all the more, in one of the best moments to date in the club's young history.
Only three minutes later, the crowd was silenced after referee Grabas awarded a penalty to San Antonio after multiple players' legs became tangled inside the Fury FC penalty area. Veteran Eric Hassli stepped up to take the penalty for the visitors, and coolly deposited it to tie the match at two.
The two teams continued to press hard and make things uncomfortable for each other, with Ottawa centre back Drew Beckie picking up a well-earned yellow card on eighty-five minutes for throwing a body check at midfield on an unsuspecting Scorpion.
Deep in extra time, in keeping with the wild theme of the second half, Tomasz Zahorski deflected a shot past Fury FC 'keeper Devala Gorrick. The goal came in the 94th minute, and gave Alen Marcina's side a valuable three points as they continue to chase the teams at the top of the NASL league table.
"We're 3-0 on the road, that's great to say. We battled hard today, and we needed three points today to stay in the top three. The guys played very hard and showed character- we're very happy," beamed San Antonio manager Alen Marcina post-game.
"Maybe it's growing pains- we didn't deserve to lose tonight, but we did. We have to re-focus, take the fact that our guys showed character and we're great tonight," reflected a very dejected Fury FC manager Marc Dos Santos post-game.
A wild match, a fantastic 'teaser' of how exciting the NASL can be, but the home side will be dejected knowing they've dropped at least one point at the death- again.
Photo by Steve Kingsman