Fury forced to play second fiddle again

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

The Ottawa Fury just can't shed the bridesmaid's label.

For the fourth straight year, the Fury had to settle for something less than the biggest prize at the W-League championship. Last night, it was the host Vancouver Whitecaps breaking the Fury's hearts, posting a convincing 3-0 victory before 4,218 spectators at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, B.C.

A year ago, Ottawa lost to the New Jersey Wildcats by the same score in the final. The Wildcats were also the host team for that match.

"We've seen this movie before and we didn't like it the first time," said Fury owner John Pugh. "We didn't enjoy much this time, either."

"Second place (again) is hard to swallow," added coach Frank Lofranco.

The Fury finished fourth in its first crack at the Final Four in 2003, then third a year later when the tourney was played at Keith Harris Stadium. The Whitecaps won their first W-League title that season, and Ottawa was hoping a little turnabout was in order last night.

But it wasn't to be, as the Whitecaps pitched their second straight shutout of this Final Four.

"We really believe in ourselves, and we thought this was our year," said Fury midfielder Carmelina Moscato.

"It's a pretty big disappointment, but there's no regret in how we prepared or how we played."

The game turned on two plays. First, Whitecaps defender Sasha Andrews pulled the ball off the line when Amy Vermeulen appeared to give Ottawa the opening goal of the match. Seconds later, Final Four MVP Christine Sinclair blasted a shot past the Fury's Leisha Alcia to put Vancouver on the board.

But the crusher came 30 seconds before halftime. Alcia made a brilliant save on Sinclair off a corner kick, but Martina Franko buried the rebound.

"That really hurt us," said Lofranco. "We had a few opportunities in the first half. We really deserved one and we didn't get it."

Andrews put the game on ice in the 73rd minute.

While the Whitecaps celebrated with the league trophy, the Fury was left to ponder another one that got away.

"It's been a great run," said Pugh. "I don't think many people thought we'd get past the Wildcats (in the Eastern Conference final), but we went a lot further than that.

"I'm very proud of this team and what they've achieved. Ottawa should be proud, too."


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