Benfica clinches first WOSL crown

KATHY RUMLESKI -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 1:16 PM ET

For the first time in the 18-year history of the Western Ontario Soccer League, London Benfica has won the Premier Division.

Benfica unseated last year's champion London Portuguese, which had won the league nine times in the last 11 years.

Benfica clinched the title last Saturday with a 3-2 win over Chatham and beat Portuguese by one point in the standings.

After two days of parties, Benfica coach Nuno Medeiros said his team "stopped celebrating about Tuesday."

Medeiros, in his second year of coaching Benfica, said with two games left in the schedule, he knew his team would win the title.

"I was pretty confident when we tied the Portuguese at the club (Sept. 17), but didn't want to let it out. The league was ours. It was in our hands."

Benfica went on to beat White Eagles 3-1 and then Chatham. Portuguese also picked up two wins in their last two games.

Medeiros credits his team's success to the players' work ethic and the support of the Benfica organization.

"Every year we seemed to get closer and closer to them. When we started indoor in December, they had it in sight that they finished second last year and they knew if they worked hard this year, it wasn't out of their reach.

"Sometimes it was three or four nights a week of soccer. They were all there . . . and ready to go. I thought our team outworked any team out there. (The players) are all MVPs in my book."

One of those players is Thomas Nicoletti, 22, also in his second year with the organization. Nicoletti said the skill level of many of the players increased from the previous season.

"We had a lot of young guys last season. A lot of us matured and became (better)," he said.

Portuguese came away with a trophy this season, winning the League Cup final 4-2 over Benfica.

AEK Olympic won the Premier Cup 1-0 final over Portuguese.

Medeiros said having different winners of various competitions shows the parity of the league.

"These three teams have been the teams that everybody has to try to catch, but now you have Chatham, Sarnia, White Eagles and even Croatia (as tough competitors). If you go into their fields thinking this is an easy three points, you'll get beat. Every team is starting to improve quite a bit."

WOSL WINNERS

Premier Division

London Benfica

First Division

Strathroy

Second Division

London Portuguese

Third Division

Sarnia Fury

Under-21 Division

Sarnia Bluewater

Recreation Division

Taxandria


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