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League1 Ontario Game of the Week: Oakville edges out Unionville

The Blue Devils only needed one goal to knock off their opposition.

Robin Glover // Waking the Red

Oakville Blue Devils 1-0 Unionville Milliken SC — Sunday May 5, 2018, Sheridan College, Oakville

Match details:

13’ — Oakville GOAL by Anthony Novak... he finds himself with another OBD player all alone in the edge of the six-yard box and turns and fires the ball into the centre of the net over goalie Lucas Birnstingl. This play wasn’t called offside only because a UM player attempted to clear the ball but he shot it off another UM player at about 15 yards, and the ball deflected back to the two players in the open.

FT — Oakville wins 1-0.

Attendance was about 120 on this mild but rainy day. Sheridan College has no stadium lights which means they can’t hold night games, but they do play in a covered stand so after sitting in the rain the night before this was a blessing for my making notes. Even if the wind drives the rain under the roof, the seats aren’t numbered so we can just move back a few rows. I can’t do that at BMO Field!

Oakville had a strong edge in play in the first half with much of the game in the Unionville end.

Karman Saini earned the shutout for OBD. This was a gutsy move as on the bench was 2016 Goalkeeper of the Year Matt George. George played the majority of the games last year. Saini had a few key stops to make but was well shielded by his defenders and the inaccuracy of UM shooters. A league official said he expected this Unionville Milliken game would be the toughest one on their schedule.

Fans were all over referee Kuizan Weekes on every call and non-call that went against OBD. The Blue Devils took six yellow cards to Unionville’s three. As if to make amends, he gave out two red cards at 96 minutes, both against UM players, in a bizarre dust-up inside the OBD box while waiting for a UM free-kick to the right of the box. I thought there were about 120 in attendance.

Oakville opens the season with two wins in two games. With six of the 14 league fixtures played so far ending in ties they are the only team with a perfect record, although both their games have been at home.

Unionville-Milliken SC is a new team in the L1O men’s league, although their women’s team started action last year. Their men’s team was created by bringing in the club’s youth organization (located in Markham) and the owner of York Region Shooters from the disbanded Canadian Soccer League. I made sure I said hello as I hadn’t seen them for five years, as L1O started up in 2014 after a year’s delay (that’s why I had patience with the new CanPL). I asked owner Tony De Thomasis if this was a sudden decision and he answered he had been planning this since last summer.

There were four players playing today I recognized from his team in 2013. York Region Shooters won the CSL Championship last year. It must have come as a surprise as there are still some current broken links on their website, but there is no YRS operating in their league. I’m not up on the Star Wars model of switching sides but I was thinking this was comparable to the NASL New York Cosmos suddenly being granted an MLS team; over the years MLS has admitted a handful but Cosmos would have been biggest.

I caught two other L1O games this weekend. Toronto Skillz rebounded from a 5-0 loss last week against Oakville with a stunning 1-0 win over Vaughan Azzurri on the road on Saturday night. Tim Mahabir rocketed a free kick down the middle from 30 yards that sailed over the player wall and through the upraised hands of goalie Praveen Ahilan and just under the bar. Vaughan dominated the game, but their shots were mostly off target. Their numerous free kicks were sent into the wall, wide, or skied over the net.

Skillz were hanging on at the end, getting the benefit of two goals called back for offside. Five minutes of injury time was deservedly added and in injury time there were three Skillz players rolling around on the field at the same time 30 yards apart. Peter Katsaras earned the shutout.

Skillz opened last year with an 0-12-0 record and waited until August 13 for their first win. They ended with a 4-18-0 record.

I was able to clear up with Azzurri staff that their new facilities opening at the end of June is NOT the same location as the York 9 FC CPL team’s planned stadium. Both are on Kirby Road between Keele and Jane (i.e. less than 3 km apart).

A tweet I received said the night game of Darby FC against Sigma FC was cancelled because of the high winds. It was at the Whitby Soccer Dome?! Today details were provided that the dome roof hadn’t blown off but was damaged inside. Light standards attached to the ceiling had fallen.

I switched to Plan B, which was to catch North Mississauga against Pro Stars FC at Hershey Centre Field #2. Number 1 had a dome... yep looked alright but... that’s what Sigma FC uses and the Panthers use #2 for open air. So the game starts and down comes a misty rain, and it eventually turns into a torrential downpour driving the 150 fans down to 60 by the start of the second half. The result was another surprise as Pro Stars earned a 2-2 tie. They were the last place team in the league last season with only one win.

Tristan Watson opened the scoring at 27 minutes for North Mississauga (he scored the lone goal in last week’s win against Alliance United as well). Aleksander Zwierzynski scored at 42 and 56 minutes for Pro Stars but Rahim Thorpe responded at 59 minutes right in the strongest of the rain. I had finessed my way across the field to cower under the DJ tent with my notebook (that’s a pen and paper kids — not a computer).