BRAMPTON, ON - As the calendar prepares to flip to a new year, RedStarBrampton.com looks back at some of the top storylines from the last 12 months.Red Star soccer fans rode an emotional roller coaster in 2013. They experienced delight, sadness, joy, frustration, relief and anguish along the way.
January - May
The year kicked off on a strong note with the reserves capturing a Brampton Playoff Championship title for the club. Red Star Brampton "B" defeated Hustler FC in the Brampton Soccer finals 5:0, ending a good fall season and bringing home the club's very first Brampton Soccer trophy. Forwards Maghori Lucky, and Sebastian Tomczyk lead the reserve team in points. Meanwhile, the First Team would have their own success during this time in Mississauga. Red Star, which was competing in the Mississauga Hershey First Division, made a strong run in the Playoffs, defeating Peel Region rivals Lakeshore United 3:1 in the Semi-Finals to advance to the Finals. Unfavourably, Red Star would lose to Refugees FC and only claim the Second Place title.
In the winter half, the success continued. Red Star Brampton entered a team to compete in the Canlan Soccer League in Mississauga with not much expectations. It proved not much of a challenge, as halfway through the season, the Red Star Canlan team whose name rights were sponsored by supermarket EUROMax, was already challenging for first place in the league. After finishing the regular season on a high note, the Reds continued to dominate in the playoff phase. Eventually meeting Interpol SC in the finals, 'EUROMax Red Star' won 3:2 in the Playoff finals and claimed the Canlan 2013 Winter Championship.
It was especially in March when the club would claim the biggest trophy in the Polish-Canadian soccer scene, the Zywiec Cup. After making it close in 2012 but losing out in the Semi-Finals on penalty kicks, the Reds came into the tournament this time with far more experience. Of course, the interest of Red Star players had increased by this time so the club had to deal with some of it's players being bought off by rival clubs to compete for them in the tournament. Regardless, the Brampton outfit entered the competition with two teams, it's First and Reserve team, being the first team from Brampton to do so. The Reserves fought valiantly but were unable to get out of the group stage, losing their chances to move on due to goal difference. Meanwhile, the First Team, which on paper may have not had the strongest team, was quickly sparking up interest after advancing from the 'Group of Death' in first place, undefeated.
Several players were injured after advancing from the group stage and were not able to continue, while some others began to fall ill. A squad which dropped from 10 to 8 in numbers, with many unable to play anywhere near their best at this point meant that the team was not expected by many to last in the competition. Fortunately, this only strengthened the team's ambition to do the impossible and create tournament history. Red Star would continue to win every single match and without conceding a single goal doing so.
The Reds would meet Lakeshore United in the finals, an exhilarating match with both sides giving it their all, with Lakeshore holding both the advantage in player numbers, fitness and strength. A goalless 0:0 draw for majority of the fixture, defender Michael Lee-Chong would take matters in his own hands and decide to dribble the ball by himself through the field in the final minutes. What happened after was both a combination of genius and pure talent, with the small defender sliding the ball past the Lakeshore goalkeeper to give Red Star the eventual game winning goal. The entire arena exploded in celebration after the goal, with Lakeshore struggling to get their heads back in the game and try to equalize in the last five minutes of the game.
It ended as quickly as it started with the referee blowing the final whistle of the game, and at that moment Red Star Brampton were hailed as the winners of the 2013 Zywiec Cup, the Polish-Canadian Champions of Canada. In addition, it was Red Star players who would claim almost every individual prize of the tournament, with Adrian Sikorski claiming Tournament Top Goal Scorer, Michael Lee-Chong with the MVP Prize, and netminder Peter Michalski with the Top Goalkeeper Award. Michalski, a former youth Canadian International, who came into the tournament as virtually unknown, made history as the only goalkeeper of the competition to ever get a shut out in every single match. This was the time in club history when Red Star Brampton were truly the kings in Polish soccer, with the first half of 2013 seeing nothing but success and championship trophy and glory.