By Emmanuel Moutsatsos
You would have a suspicious mind if you think these guys want this ride to end.
To even suggest Thunder Bay would be OK with losing today‘s semifinal is nuttier than the professor himself. They‘re having way too much fun and they‘ve only got a little ways more to go before their dreams come true.
“No way, no way,” says their co-captain and team-MVP Anthony Putrus. “This ride isn‘t ending. We will, we will.
“Like you said, we didn‘t come back to go just a round further, we came back to win it. That‘s the ultimate goal for everybody here.”
Standing in the way of a spot in the Premier Development League finals, a game the Chill would host if they were to be in it, is a strong Vancouver Whitecaps Residency club.
The Western Conference champs and a feeder team to the Major League Soccer club didn‘t get to this point playing the game the way George Costanza would, they got here because they‘re good.
“You know your opponent is going to be tough if they‘re at this point,” explains Nolan Intermoia, a central figure in the lineup and the team‘s X-factor, according to head coach Tony Colistro, “but after playing with this team and seeing what we‘re capable of, I think our will and our desire to win this game is stronger than any team out there.
“When it comes down to it,” he adds, “this team has the heart. We came to bring Thunder Bay a championship. That‘s what we came to do.”
If the Chill play the way they did in claiming the Central conference title in Detroit last weekend, they could achieve that goal.
“There‘s no way they‘re going to beat us if we play our game,” Putrus says.
To beat the Whitecaps, more of the same effort will be needed.
“They are good and we‘ve got to respect our opponents,” Putrus begins, “but if we do what we can do and play our game, we‘re going to be absolutely fine.”
The mood before the start of the Chill‘s Thursday practice session was one of confidence. Players formed a perfect circle and are stretching while more bleachers are being added for the large crowd that‘s expected for tonight‘s pivotal contest. A Perfect Parties truck is here assembling a tent for VIPs and the last time the Chill hosted a playoff game, which was last Tuesday, it turned into a party.
Thunder Bay ended Colorado‘s season in front of over 1,000 fans and in that game, the crowd acted as a 12th man, encouraging the home side to a 3-1 decision.
“The crowd helps us so much,” Putrus says, “we‘re going to put on a show for them.”
The curtain rises at 7 p.m. Best get there early.