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2011/2012 – The season of “triplete”

2011/2012 – The season of “triplete”

The second year in the First Division began with enthusiasm due to the great goal that the Aquilotta society intended to achieve: the promotion to Serie B. The new sporting director Moreno Zocchi and the experienced coach Elio Gustinetti, succeeded in bringing in the Golfo dei Poeti several important players, coming down from the superior categories to make great the Aquilotta team. Iunco, Mastronunzio, Papini, Carobbio, Bianco, Russo, Madonna, Rivalta, and Evacuo are just some of the names that arrived in the summer retreat of Santa Cristina in Val Gardena. The first official match was on August 6th, when at “Miro Luperi” of Sarzana, Spezia played the Tim Cup, due to the unavailability of the Alberto Picco. The opponent was Valle d'Aosta and Spezia imposed itself for 3-0, thanks to the goals of Papini and Iunco in the first half and Felice Evacuo in the second round. With the passage of the turn, Spezia faced Bari of coach Torrente at the “San Nicola”; but it was the Apulian formation who passed the turn.

On September 4th, 2011 came the big day of the debut in the league, and, on the new field of Alberto Picco, the Aquilotti hosted the Andria, which was able to block on 0-0 the hosts. The opportunity to release themselves came the following week, September 11th, when the Aquilotti were guests at “Matusa” of Frosinone. Unfortunately, the goals of Iunco and Bianchi weren’t enough, and Russo was beaten on three occasions. The lackluster beginning of the championship seemed to change with the success against Piacenza (3-0), but in the following two matches, in Siracusa and Cremona, the Aquilotti suffered six goals, remaining at four points in the standings after five matches. That negative score cost a lot to the coach from Bergamo: on October 4th the white club communicated to have raised from the charge of trainer Elio Gustinetti. The following day Michele Serena was made official as the new head coach of the first team. That decision seemed to work: the Aquilotti imposed brilliantly for 2-0 against Trapani, they drew in Lanciano and won against Pergocrema, gaining positions in the standings. However, the derby against Carrarese didn’t go as expected and, after a first advantage, the Aquilotti were defeated due to two penalties for Carrarese. In addition to the defeat, the Aquilotti also lost Iunco due to a bad intervention of Taddei at the beginning of the match.

The defeat in the derby, however, passed into the background for the events that on October 25 would upset the territory of the province of La Spezia and the area of Aulla: the flood would take away with it human lives, entire villages, homes, dreams, and memories, leaving in the eyes of the people a lot of fear and anger, but above all the desire to react and to reborn, trying to return to normality as soon as possible. In that dramatic situation, Spezia tried to do its part, but the first match was an unexpected collapse, especially because it arrived at the Picco, against the Portogruaro of Herzan, a young team with no big ambitions, but able to impose with a 2-0.

In Spezia seemed that something didn’t work. The following away match against Feralpisalò didn’t bring back the smile on the face of the men of mister Serena: a draw, 1-1, that contributed to increasing the discontent for a ranking far from what everyone expected in the summer. In the following matches, however, Spezia managed to get a positive series of 11 results, which raised the ambitions of Spezia. Meanwhile, the men of Michele Serena advanced in Coppa Italia, beating Virtus Entella in Chiavari for 3-1, and thus accessing the following round along with Carpi and Spal. A round that the Aquilotti closed with two successes, getting the chance to face Foggia in the semifinals. On December 18th, the Aquile played at Latina for the last day of the first half of the season: the goals of Papini and Evacuo, interspersed with the momentary equality of Babù, brought three important points in the white boxes; the enthusiasm for the important victory was broken on December 19th, when came the news of the arrest of midfielder Filippo Carobbio in the investigation on football betting. The January market brought in the team Marotta, Ricci, Grauso, Mora and Guerra, while Mastronunzio, Ferretti and Enow left Spezia. The dreams of glory, however, seemed to fall with the defeat suffered in Trapani, able to impose 1 to 0 on Aquilotti, sending the white to -11 in the standings, apparently excluding them from the fight for direct promotion.

However, Spezia didn’t give up, and it was precisely the coach to declare, in the post-match, that until the mathematics would not give its verdicts unquestionable, Spezia would not stop believing. The philosophy was simple: make as many points as possible, match after match. In the following two games, Spezia won against Lanciano and Pergocrema, then blocked again on 1 to 1 in the home derby with Carrarese and in the away game of Portogruaro. On March 26th, the Company decided to change: the Sports Director Moreno Zocchi left and Nelso Ricci came. Ricci's career spanned 40 years, spent in Pontedera, Siena, Livorno, Grosseto, and Carrarese; in Pontedera, he brought a young coach from Viareggio, destined to write the history of Italian football and of the Italian national team, Marcello Lippi. The impact with the new reality was strong, as was typical in the character and the understanding with mister Serena became stronger every day. But the month of March brought a welcome gift to the people of Spezia: the final of the Coppa Italia against Pisa, obtained thanks to the clear success for 6 to 0 in the semi-final return against Foggia, after the 1 to 0 suffered in the first match.

On April 20th, in the first match of the final, Spezia was surprised by the Tuscan team led by coach Pane, giving up for 1 to 0 in the home match, thus giving way to a strong protest by fans. After that,  the Aquilotti won in extremis against Sud Tirol at Alberto Picco, with a goal of Nicola Madonna, and got the three points in the difficult transfer of Barletta thanks to a goal of Felice Evacuo, who would close the season with fifteen goals in the league. Meanwhile, Trapani began to lose points, obtaining only one victory, two draws, and two defeats against Portogruaro and Latina. Therefore, Spezia saw the light again and reached the top on the penultimate day, when Trapani drew for 2 to 2 in Bolzano against Sudtirol: first place at the same time and Aquile in advantage in the face-off.

The magical week continued on May 2nd  with the conquest of the first trophy of the Volpi’s era: the Coppa Italia, won in the home of historical rivals of Pisa thanks to a brace of Simone Guerra, which allowed a team full of young people, to overturn the result of the first leg and to celebrate with their fans the second Coppa Italia Lega Pro in the history of Spezia Calcio. Strengthened by the success in the cup, the boys of coach Serena were ready to make history just four days later, when, in a Picco completely dressed in white, came the Latina, fighting to avoid the play-out. Meanwhile, Trapani was winning against Virtus Bassano. For the Aquilotti the task seemed more difficult than expected, with Latina ready to defend itself in all ways. However, the goal arrived in the first half and was an extraordinary goal, worthy of its importance: the author was one of the most awaited players, the captain Iunco, who invented a real gem with control of the head and perfect parabola from 25 meters that went into the goal leaving no escape to the goalkeeper. After that goal came another one by Evacuo. In the second half, it was up to Ighli 'Eagle' Vannucchi to round up the result and the remaining time before the final whistle was just an anxious wait for the flight to Serie B that was missing from the 2005/2006 season.

The victory of the championship allowed the Aquilotti to take part in the Super Cup of the First Division, with Ternana as the opponent, winner of the group A. It was concrete the possibility for the team of Volpi to obtain an incredible 'Triplete', a result never reached by any other company. The first match ended in a goalless draw, while in the return happened something very usual for Spezia: it went under, did not back down, and performed a comeback. A penalty of Evacuo first, and the decisive goal of Lucioni then, allowed the Aquilotti to raise the third trophy of the season that opened the doors to Spezia to the history of Italian soccer. The first, the only, unforgettable.