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The Canadian Premier League’s 2020 Fan Awards are underway with nine categories in all, including the return of the Allstate Good Hands Award for the best save of the year.
All eight CPL teams were served well by their goalkeepers at The Island Games, with plenty of great saves from which to choose. However, the long list of great stops has been refined to just the following three finalists.
Here’s a breakdown of the three nominees: defending champion Marco Carducci of Cavalry FC, Callum Irving from Pacific FC, and FC Edmonton’s Connor James.
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Marco Carducci, Cavalry FC — vs. Pacific FC, September 9 (2nd Round)
The CPL’s reigning Goalkeeper of the Year was busy again in 2020, making a number key saves in helping Cavalry on their run at The Island Games. This particular stop, which preserved Cavalry’s second-half lead in a crucial second-round match against Pacific, left Alejandro Díaz shaking his head.
After a blistering run from Pacific’s Marco Bustos, Díaz saw a fantastic opportunity to shoot from near the top of the penalty area, and he fired an impressive effort that seemed destined for the top corner. Carducci, however, was more impressive, as his outstretched right hand managed to parry the shot over the net to safety.
Thanks in part to Carducci’s handiwork, the Cavs held on to win this game (adding another goal along the way).
Callum Irving, Pacific FC — vs. Atlético Ottawa, September 2 (1st Round)
The first-ever meeting between these sides wasn’t one we’ll soon forget. With both teams in the thick of a race for spots in the top four in the first round, they traded blows for almost 90 minutes while the score stayed at 0-0.
On the brink of stoppage time, Pacific faced a barrage of chances from Ottawa, including this pair of opportunities at the doorstep. Ottawa’s Mohamed Kourouma took the first shot, which Callum Irving fended off from point-blank range, and the ‘keeper was then forced to dive and push away the rebound, which had bounced off his own defender toward the goal.
Unfortunately for Irving and Pacific, Atlético Ottawa did end up finding the winner, scoring off a corner kick just seconds after this save. Still, kudos to Irving for coming up big with this stop.
Connor James, FC Edmonton — vs. Cavalry FC, August 20 (1st Round)
The only Al Classico we saw in 2020 was, well, a classic. The Eddies, playing with 10 men since just after halftime, were fighting hard to equalize throughout the last 45 minutes, and their campaign was kept alive at this late moment by their goalkeeper’s brilliant reflexes.
When a perfect cross from Mo Farsi fell at the feet of Marcus Haber in front of goal, Cavalry looked all but certain to go up 2-0. Haber’s first touch was a good one, tapping the ball back across goal as Connor James dove the opposite way. What Haber didn’t count on, though, was James’ ability to kick his left leg out and knock the ball away just in time.
The athletic save, which stunned even Haber, kept Edmonton in the game right up until a 95th-minute penalty kick secured a win for Cavalry.