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L1O Game of the Week: Sigma scores late penalties to edge Master’s FA

A delayed match report this week, but an exciting finish to a great game!

Robin Glover / Waking the Red

In last weekend’s League1 Ontario action, Sigma FC took on Master’s FA at Hershey Centre in Mississauga at 4 p.m. Here’s how it went down:

85’ — Sigma’s Hilli Goldhar comes running diagonally from right to catch MFA Sahjah Reid and steal ball at MFA 33 yard line on clearance attempt. Goldhar then runs up the middle and steps around MFA Randy Miss-Miyanga on edge of box who turns and puts in sliding tackle that brings Goldhar down at 8 yard line on left. Referee John Vlahos calls for a penalty kick.

86’ Sigma FC 1-0 Master’s FA [David Velastegui] — Velastegui rolls a penalty kick down middle as goalie Spiridon Koskinas dives right.

92’ Sigma goalie Triston Henry punts a low clearance upfield that charging Sigma Tajon Buchanan misses a header at MFA’s 33 yard line but turns around and runs by MFA Antoine Paul and they both chase ball to top of box. The charging goalie comes over to dive on ball but upends Buchanan. Both players are injured with the goalie down longer but it doesn’t change the penalty kick call.

93’ Sigma FC 2-0 Master’s FA [David Velastegui] — Velastegui stutter-steps penalty kick and blasts to top right at goalie who had already slumped left.

Final Score: Sigma FC 2-0 Master’s FA

Attendance was about 120 for this humid and overcast late afternoon with a light rain starting and stopping a few times from the 5’ mark. There were a few Master’s fans who had made the drive from Scarborough.

Triston Henry earned the shutout for Sigma who have only conceded two goals in playing every minute of the eight league games and two Cup games this season. This game he had some work to do especially at the beginning. 8 minutes had MFA Reshon Phillip make a long run up the left and his 8 yard shot was saved point blank by a sliding Henry near the left post. Then two minutes later MFA Johnson Jonathon Amoo eluded a defender on the left end line after a long run but Henry dove forward to smother a rolled pass. After that the defenders made sure the MFA shots were mostly from outside the box or were rushed or deflected. At 87 minutes when MFA were looking for an equalizer when Jose De Sousa took a cornerkick from the right that was knocked around in the box after Henry had swatted the ball away on the right post but eventually he caught a shot from 12 yards after is was popped up. De Sousa had one more chance at 90 minutes when he headed a 7 yarder wide left while in line with the right post.

Sigma’s Marcel Zajac played 73 minutes in his second game starting since returning from injury. He took many of the long range shots and they repeatedly drifted just wide left of the post. He now holds on to the league lead with seven goals but has now been tied by Connor Wilson of FC London and Anthony Novak of Oakville Blue Devils. As Wilson played Friday night I believe Zajac would have taken the Penalty kicks if they came while he was still on the field.

Sigma had most of the chances from the 30 minute mark. MFA goalie Spiridon Koskinas kept them in the game and almost held on for one point. MFA playmaker Joey Melo watched from the stands as he is recovering from injury.

This is the fifth game in a row where Master’s have dropped points by conceding late. It started on June 9 when they lost 1-0 against TFC III on a penalty kick at 87 minutes by Afram Gorgees. The next weekend they were tied 2-2 by Alliance United when Connor McFall scored at 95 minutes.

June 24 they did come from behind to catch Oakville Blue Devils at 2-2 but then lost in penalty kicks to get knocked out of the League Cup in the quarter-final round. Last weekend they conceded at 84 minutes to Pro Stars Anthony Crysanthou to leave with a 2-2 tie and now this week with two late penalties. They just can’t close out games.

The win improves Sigma to a record of 7-0-1 for 22 points and sole possession of first place pulling ahead of Toronto FC III who didn’t play this weekend and are three points behind with no games in hand. Master’s record drops to 2-2-4 for 10 points but sit in a precarious tenth place in the single table 17-team league. They must move up to ninth to make the playoff round (TFC III will not be taking part so they can join the USSDA in September).

I saw two other L1O games this weekend. Friday night had Darby FC host Aurora FC at the Whitby Soccer Centre. They play at a indoor facility. That game started off quickly with Darby’s Cristian Moncrieffe score at 12 minutes and Aurora’s Maximillian Ferrari equalizing at 17 minutes but the game ended 1-1. A very competitive game but neither team is near a playoff contender and a result like this helps neither team.

After the Sigma vs Masters game I just stayed behind because two hours later on this field was the North Mississauga Panthers SC vs Toronto Skillz Academy game. North Miss won this one 2-0 with a goal by Rahim Thorpe at 38 minutes when a Skillz player took a freekick inside his own box and thinking he was passing it back to his goalie to clear Thorpe intercepted the pass and scored. A key insurance goal was scored at 82 minutes when Marko Bedenikovic took a short cornerkick working with Mohammed Habibzi and was tapped back the ball and chipped an 18 yarder from the far right over goalie Peter Katsaras and it dropped into the top left corner of the net.

Asking for help filling in the assists with Bedenikovic I realized I’d watched him play for Toronto Lynx in 2006. The season before he was with Oakville Blue Devils who were a farm team of the Lynx. Also before and after those years with Toronto Croatia and Portugal United (SC Toronto). He’s listed as age 34. The Panthers are dealing with injuries as leading scorer Tristan Watson was watching from the stands in a leg cast from his thigh to his foot. He answered me that it happened in a car accident. 2017 ‘L1O Goal of the Year’ winner Ameen Majtaba was also watching from the stands. I can top the old players though...defender Jaroslaw Radzinski played the entire 90 minutes for the second game in a row.

He is born in 1977 and his OSA ID number is only four digits long (whereas today’s teenage players are up to seven)! Head coach Sam Medeiros who would have played against him said he uses him as motivation to his 18 year old players “Look at that guy, he’s 40 years old and can outrun you and never tires out...” I’ve watched ‘Jarek’ play with Toronto Supra way back in 2003. He is the younger brother of Canadian Hall of Famer Tomasz Radzinski. I watched Tomasz play with North York Rockets in the first year I started going to games in 1988. There was no internet nor even message boards in those days kids! I took this as an omen that I should go out Sunday morning to visit a bar in Vaughan to see the York 9 viewing party of the World Cup Final. Hmm the final had an own goal and a goalie miscue for another goal. Ammunition when someone criticizes this league!

On the sidelines after the Panthers game I spotted L1O commissioner Dino Rossi. I asked him about what happens to the teams who don’t make the playoffs. It is just like hockey—get out the golf clubs! There will be no relegation brackets. Also the league is still unclear about whether next year TFC III will be in the league. With them joining the USSDA for their September to April season, a TFC III staff member has already answered me that it would be too much to expect them to play all year round.