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Bukovec's L1 Cup Heroics Propel Vaughan Azzurri To 3-2 Win In Penalties Over FC London

07/15/2016, 6:15pm EDT
By League1 Ontario staff

At 2-0 down to FC London at half-time in the L1 Cup women's semi-final against FC London on Wednesday night, Vaughan goalkeeper Stephanie Bukovec stepped up into the striker position... and the rest was history.

Bukovec (50', 70') scored two exceptional goals before returning to the net for the penalty tiebreaker, scoring one herself and saving two of four London shots to send her team to the L1 Cup final.

"We showed a little character tonight, and Steph obviously made a difference up top," said Vaughan head coach, Carmine Isacco. "She went from goalkeeper to striker and did a fantastic job."

"We stuck with it, we were good defensively and in transition, and I'm proud of them. They showed character. Undermanned as we were, we really showed some character. It was fantastic. The composure and character shown was an important step for us today. They showed the want it, and they went and took it."

FC London striker phenomenon and current league leading scorer, Jade Kovacevic (4', 34'), had already scored a brace of her own in the first half, frequently linking well with Nichole Neilsen to produce a number of dangerous opportunities. 

Bukovec's introduction as a target forward in the second half changed everything for Vaughan, as she confidently held up the ball, made intelligent runs, and potted two highlight reel finishes. 

Her first involved peeling off the centre-back and receiving a through ball in half-yard of space inside the box. Bukovec steadied and drove it across the London keeper Emily Gillet and into the bottom corner. 

Bukovec's second was of the highest quality. Taking down a forward ball with her back to the net, she quickly exchanged passes on the wing before cutting inside from the right wing at the corner of the 18-yard box. Bukovec again steadied momentarily, and then unleashed a shot that flew over Gillett and dipped into the top corner.

FC London would shake off the experience, rallying to dominate the half's possession and create a number of chances of their own. Montana Portenier and Kovacevic were ever dangerous, as was second half substitute Claire Monyard, but none of the trio could finish off their impressive combination play. 

"[Vaughan] were counterattacking and it was dangerous, but when we regained possession of the ball I really loved the way we were building up the play and taking our time," said FC London head coach, Mike Marcoccia. 

"We didn't capitalize on a few chances and that's the way this game goes. Vaughan is a quality side and there was no doubt in my mind that if they had opportunities that they could score."

Bukovec again donned the mitts for the penalty shot tie-breaker, saving two of London's four efforts before potting the winning penalty and completing a dream outing.   

"I used to be a striker when I was younger so I could never decide between being a striker or going in net, but we won so I'm pretty happy about that," she said. 

"This is my first time ever playing out in League1, and it felt great."

Vaughan will play Woodbridge Strikers at the Ontario Soccer Centre on July 30 (3:30 p.m.) in the 2016 L1 Cup final. 

Tag(s): News  Womens L1 Cup  FC London  Vaughan Azzurri  2016 Archive   July