Their summer of celebration has given way to a September to remember at the St. Anthony Soccer Club.
Nobody at the Preston Street club will soon forget that July afternoon when Little Italy's beloved Azzurri edged France on penalty kicks to win the World Cup.
Now there's reason to cheer a team much closer to home.
St. Anthony's Italia Premier outlasted Scarborough Glen Shields United 3-2 last Sunday in Vaughan to win the Ontario Cup men's crown -- the club's first such title in its 50-plus years of existence.
Johnny Schieda was the hero for St. Anthony, scoring the winner with less than a minute to go in extra time to dethrone the defending Ontario Cup and Canadian champs.
"We didn't want to go to penalty shots," said team manager Rick Giamberardino.
No Ottawa team had won the Ontario Cup men's title in its more than century-long history (since 1901) until Kanata Soccer Post broke through in 2003. Now the capital can claim three champs in four years, with the Ottawa Royals having turned the trick in 2004.
St. Anthony coach Aldo Popazzi clearly has the golden touch, having earlier guided Kanata to its crown.
But the side hopes this title is merely step one in a triple crown of achievement. This afternoon, St. Anthony faces the Toronto Lynx (of the USL First Division) in the title match of the Canadian Soccer League's Open Canada Cup. And it doesn't want its run of success to end just yet.
"We did win our league (the OCSL) and we won the Ontario Cup," said Giamberardino. "Now we want to win the Open Canada Cup."
A victory today would earn St. Anthony $10,000 -- cash it could surely use to help fund its trip to the Canadian championships next month. The nationals run Oct. 4-9 in Surrey, B.C.
St. Anthony will have local company in Surrey. The Ottawa Royals claimed the Ontario Cup women's title earlier this month, edging the Scarborough Azzurri Admirals 1-0 despite playing the second half with 10 players. Danielle Vella supplied the game-winning goal in the 72nd minute.
The Royals became the first capital side to win the Ontario Cup women's crown since the Nepean United Spirit ruled for three years, from 1997-99. A handful of Royals players had a hand in that Spirit run, including Vella, Noel Trepanier and Mandy Sabiston, along with coaches Fred Juett and Andy Nera.
PADDLE POWER: Canadian athletes brought home a raft of medals from Pan American canoe/kayak championships, held last weekend in Mexico City. In senior events, Ottawa's Angus Mortimer won a pair of gold medals, in K-1 500 and 1,000 metres. Ryan Cochrane of Ottawa was part of silver-medal winning K-2 and K-4 boats over 500 metres. The latter crew included Ottawa's Rhys Hill.
DROP THE PUCK: The National Capital Competitive Program (NCCP) Under-21 Junior Raiders are Ottawa's first entry in the Provincial Women's Hockey League. The team faces off against the Cambridge Fury on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Carleton Ice House.
AROUND THE AMATEUR SCENE: The annual Figure 8 Autumn Skate wraps up today at the Jim Durrell Centre. Competition runs from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. ... Brooke Paulin and Nathan Last of the Nepean Skating Club finished ninth in pairs in their Junior Grand Prix series debut in Budapest ... Two local canoe/kayak slalom athletes, Sara and Julian Potvin-Bernal of Chelsea, are recipients of $3,000 Hydro-Quebec bursaries.