Dec 9, 2007

Cancun's Atlante Wins Mexican Championships

Atlante won the Mexican Apertura championships thanks to a 2-1 win tonight against UNAM Pumas in the final leg of the home-and-away final series. The Cancun side clinched the game in the 86th minute on a Golazo from Clemente Ovalle. The 25 year old defender struck the ball from about 20 meters, sending it off the underside of the bar. Seventeen minutes earlier, Pumas had tied the game up after Atlante had struck first in the 59th minute. The first leg at Mexico City's Estadio Olimpico ended scoreless.

I think this was Ovalle's third career goal, but undoubtedly the most significant. He didn't even play regularly until the final stretch of the Apertura season, entering as a substitute the final three games. His performance was enough to convince Atlante's coach, Jose Guadelupe Cruz, as Ovalle started every playoff game.

The championship is Atlante's first since 1993 and only its third overall. The team entered the Apertura playoffs as the third seed and vanquished Cruz Azul in the quarterfinals and Chivas in the semis. They were fortunate to not have to play either of the top two seeds (Santos Laguna and Toluca) both of whom were beaten by Pumas. But Atlante appeared to have answers for Pumas' attacking game that neither of the other teams could put together.

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