About a hundred people were on hand under hot, sunny skies to witness this Saturday afternoon derby between Vaughan Azzurri and the Woodbridge Strikers; a match having huge significance with Woodbridge sitting five points ahead of Vaughan atop the eastern conference table after winning all six matches so far this season.
The match started out with great energy from both sides; Vaughan using a slower, probing offense to claim a greater share of the possession throughout the first half but Woodbridge using a quicker counter-attack to generate more shots and dangerous chances. Both teams had trouble making their open-play chances count, with many 20-yard shots turning into slow rollers or bouncing shots which were easy collections for both keepers. Set pieces seemed to be more consistent for the offenses, with many of these going just wide or forcing the keepers into tipping the ball just over the net. One of the best chances of the first half was a 25-yard free kick from Vaughan’s Joseph Di Chiara – a beautifully-placed low bouncer which somehow passed straight through the goal mouth without being touched and wound up missing the left side of the net by about a yard. Only one card given this half; a yellow to Vaughan’s Jason Mills in the 29th minute after a mid-field collision with Woodbridge’s Christian Cavallini which had him down for a few minutes. It didn’t look especially deserving of a caution from my vantage point, though it could be argued that Cavallini might have had the opportunity for a long break downfield had he managed to beat the 1-v-2 situation he was in. No goals during the first 45, and it looked like anybody’s game going into the second half.
The second half started off stronger for Vaughan, with the wind – absent during the first half – now at the home squad’s back. Vaughan would seem to be the better side throughout the second half, as Woodbridge never found the same flow that they had during the first half. Vaughan would open the scoring in the 56th minute after Jason Mills was sandwiched by two Woodbridge defenders about ten yards out – a sloppy foul in my mind as the ball had already bounced away from him. Woodbridge seemed to accept the call fairly readily and Vaughan’s Joseph Di Chiara would make no mistake from the spot as his attempt found the right side of the net to give Vaughan a 1-0 lead.
Tempers would finally boil over a few minutes after that opening goal, starting as Vaughan’s Jason Mills gave a late clip from the ground to Woodbridge’s Dylan Carreiro as he ran past. Though I didn’t think Mills necessarily deserved a yellow card for his first half challenge, this second yellow left no question, and a straight red wouldn’t have been unjust. Frustrated throughout the match by claimed inconsistencies in the officiating, both teams quickly congregated around the downed player.
Vaughan’s Joseph Amato – who had just finished unsuccessfully pleading Mills’ case to the referee – must have said something objectionable towards the Woodbridge players, setting off a round of pushing and shoving between multiple groups of players on both sides. While both sides could have earned multiple bookings in the affair (including one for a light headbutt), the only one given was an ejection to Woodbridge’s Stephen Almeida, which brought both sides down to ten men.
The scuffle must have broken Woodbridge’s focus, for only a few minutes later, Jarek Whiteman would manage to find some space on the inside left about fifteen yards out, and would make no mistake in slotting the ball home on the right side of the net. The Woodbridge back line seemed a bit disorganized at the time – maybe, like me, they were still trying to figure out what cards had just been given out, because I only managed to catch the goal out of the corner of my eye.
Now that Vaughan had a 2-0 lead, the chippy play would continue for the rest of the game. Woodbridge’s Paredes-Procter would earn a yellow right off the restart for a mid-field trip, while Vaughan’s Tomasz Sklublak took some risks with a studs-first jump towards keeper Quillan Roberts which didn’t make contact or earn a call, but definitely had me keeping an eye on their heated discussion as play went back up-field. Woodbridge’s best chance to score was a 6-yard free kick in the 75th minute, earned on the edge of the goal area for an alleged passback which seemed to me more of an unintentional deflection. In any case, the shot on target would ricochet off the 10-man Vaughan wall and nothing would come of it.
The only other great scoring chance would come in the dying minutes of injury time as Chris Mannella managed to move past a dejected Woodbridge defense and fire off a left-sided shot from point-blank range which ricocheted off Roberts’ right shoulder. Roberts himself had earned a caution just after the second half water break (most likely for dissent) while Woodbridge’s Paredes-Procter had earned a second yellow just before this play for a late challenge – probably why Woodbridge’s defense didn’t seem too on top of this play. Vaughan ended the match with a 2-0 victory.
This loss marks Woodbridge’s first of the season, and is the first time in seven games where they’ve dropped points. While they’re still two points clear of Vaughan at the top of the standings, I wouldn’t say they’re untouchable; five of their six victories have only been by one goal, including two close matches against bottom teams like Aurora and Skillz and an injury-time winner against Masters. Sigma is now the only undefeated team in the league, holding a 5-2-0 record as second place in the western conference.
I didn’t really mention him above, but I was particularly impressed by Woodbridge’s Dylan Carreira throughout the match – he seemed to be a great playmaker for his side and a constant threat to the Vaughan midfield while they were on offense. He seemed to be a bit more hot-headed when I saw him against Durham earlier in the season, but did a good job in keeping things steady in this match, especially considering how many other players lost their cool. Definitely my choice for man of the match.
#1 – Vance Colm (GK)
#2 – Jarred Phillips
#3 – Joseph Amato – Off (88′)
#4 – Christopher Mannella
#5 – Daniel Gogarty
#7 – Jahsua Mills – Off (66′)
#9 – Jarek Whiteman – Goal (67′) – Off (77′)
#10 – Jason Mills – 2 YC (29′, 63′)
#14 – Brandon John
#18 – Tomasz Sklublak – Off (85′)
#24 – Joseph Di Chiara – Goal (56′ pen.)
#8 – Brandon Mills – On (66′)
#16 – Devante Walker – On (77′)
#6 – Adam Lofranco – On (85′)
#15 – Niklas Bauer – On (88′)
VAUGHAN 2:0 WOODBRIDGE
56′ GOAL (pen.) – VGN #24 Joseph Di Chiara
67′ GOAL – VGN #9 Jarek Whiteman
29′ YC – VGN #10 Jason Mills
63′ 2nd YC – VGN #10 Jason Mills
64′ RC – WDB #11 Stephen Almeida
68′ YC – WDB #6 Joshua Paredes-Procter
80′ YC – WDB #1 Quillan Roberts
90+4′ 2nd YC – WDB Joshua Paredes-Procter
#1 – Quillan Roberts (GK) – YC (80′)
#2 – Quante Abbott-Hill-Smith
#3 – Kyle Watson
#4 – Francesco Sinopoli
#6 – Joshua Paredes-Procter – 2 YC (68, 90+4′)
#10 – Christian Cavallini – Off (85′)
#11 – Stephen Almeida – RC (64′)
#15 – James Baker – Off (67′)
#16 – Dylan Carreiro
#18 – Ignazio Muccilli – Off (62′)
#22 – Michael Krzeminski – Off (76′)
#19 – Stefano Voci – On (62′)
#9 – Milan Beader – Off (67′)
#25 – Zachary Kalak – On (76′)
#20 – Luca Baldassarre – On (85′)
Elsewhere in the league
Oakville jumped to the top of the western conference with a 6-1 drubbing of ProStars, with Filipe Vilela scoring four times for the Blue Devils. Sigma now stands one point behind in second place with a 0-0 result against London. Windsor and TFC III would settle for the same result.
The North Toronto Nitros clobbered Ottawa South by a 5-1 scoreline, staying in a tie with Vaughan for second in the east while handing the league newcomers their fourth-straight loss. Nitros keeper Mark Rogal would convert an 82nd-minute penalty to lead his team to victory.
Durham could only manage a 1-1 draw against Masters, and now leave us with a distinct top three in the eastern conference. Jose De Sousa and Stefan Lamanna both scored for their respective sides.
Aurora earned their first win of the season with a 2-1 victory over Skillz as Joe Tituana scored the winner. Meanwhile, Andi Montina scored two goals including an injury-time winner to lead North Mississauga to a 3-2 win over Sanjaxx.