This time around was surely more heartbreaking than its opening stalemate with York9 FC, due simply to the manner in which the Eddies stormed back with two late goals, after Ottawa took a two-goal lead in the first half.
“It’s worse than a loss in a lot of ways,” Ottawa winger Ben Fisk said. “To be honest, the last five minutes was disgraceful, how we finished the game. We have a lot of work to do going into the next game.”
The dropped points will sting mightily for Atlético, who dominated the first half. After losing their last contest 4-0 to Valour FC, they stormed out of the gates by scoring just 22 seconds into Sunday’s game and earning six shots in the first 15 minutes of the game.
It wasn’t until much later, though, that things truly began to fall apart for Ottawa, as FCE returned the favour in the final quarter-hour.
“No one to blame but ourselves for those last five minutes,” Fisk stated. “Thinking back on the game they maybe had three half-decent chances the entire game, and two of them happened to come in the 88th and 91st minute, so it is what it is, it’s done now, but it hurt a lot for sure.
“We need to improve from that, can’t let that happen again because we’ve obviously done that in a couple games now where we conceded at the end of the game.”
Ottawa’s frustration will be compounded by the fact that, had they held onto the lead for just five more minutes, they would have jumped into the top four of the league table.
Above all, though, the expansion side will be most annoyed by the way they’ve finished all three games, having conceded twice after the 90-minute mark against Valour and squandered a 2-0 second-half lead versus York9. This time, they did so with 11 men on the pitch, as well.
Why, though, have they seemed to fade late each time?
“The inability to have a normal pre-season and get some game fitness in there, not knowing what we were gonna get into, having such a short margin to prepare for this… Obviously I think the intensity in the first couple of minutes was great, but going into the 70th minute we sort of gassed out a bit,” Atlético Ottawa coach Mista said through a translator.
It’s not all bad, though, he said. Of course, the stunning quality of Francisco Acuña in the first half — with two early goals and plenty of dangerous attacking passes — gives them something excellent to build on. Plus, the overall intensity from the opening kickoff is just what Mista called for after the Valour loss.
“The positives that we’re gonna take away is that we’ve been better in each game,” Mista said. “The attitude today in the first half was fantastic, the pressing when we were 2-0 up for most of the game, if not all. But in the end we’re professionals. Every game counts, and we need to carry on.”
It’s certainly far from over for Atlético Ottawa at The Island Games. With their two points keeping them firmly in the hunt for the top four, there’s plenty left to play for in their remaining games — beginning, critically, with a Wednesday night fixture against Cavalry FC.