It was a windy afternoon in Vaughan as kick-off for the League 1 Ontario final commenced. Vaughan Azzurri were confident entering the match, having previously won the League 1 Cup, and sitting top of the regular season. Their opponent, FC London, were the winners in the “West” and seeking a victory in their opening season in L1O.
Vaughan Azzurri were quick to pounce on the ball at the opening, but despite the initial rush, the first stretch seemed fairly even as both sides felt each other out. With only 1 meeting during the regular season, neither side could be entirely sure what to expect. The match would open up off a free kick in the 10′. Di Chiara’s kick would cross high to the centre, only to be headed in by Butters, one of Vaughan’s defenders. The next couple of minutes, despite an initial rush by Amaya of FC London, would continue to be dominated by the home side. A foul just outside and left of the box in the 13′ would give Di Chiara another free kick. This time he sent it in low and Gogarty would put it past Sokalski, sending Vaughan up 2-0.
The remainder of the first half showed some competitive play from either side. Vance, the keeper for Vaughan, would not be seriously challenged despite some good offensive play from FC London’s Amaya. Vaughan’s offensive forays were let by Whiteman and Phillips, but were often foiled by Seymore and London’s keeper, Sokalski. The half would end with Johsua Mills of Vaughan getting extremely heated about a perceived elbow. In his anger, Mills would get caught headbutting another player and earn himself a red card. This would sentence Vaughan Azzurri to a 10-man side for the 2nd half.
Starting the 2nd half short, Vaughan proceeded to bunker down and spent a lot of time defending in their own end. FC London was looking far better than in the 1st half, but a sharp run by Whiteman would give Vaughan another corner kick. Di Chiara would get his third assist of the night as he sent it to Kovacevic who would put it into the netting in the 53′.
Although FC London would spend a fair bit of time in Vaughan’s end, the counter-attack would continue to challenge Sokalski. Phillips and Jason Mills would seem the most dangerous for Vaughan during this point of the match. The 4th goal for the home side would come in the 68′ thanks to a running play from Whiteman. With half of Vaughan’s goals coming while short, there could be no doubt which team were performing well tonight.
FC London’t first goal wouldn’t come until the 71′. A clean shot off the foot of Reza Nafar would beat the keeper and give the lads of London some hope. Vaughan then proceeded to shut down FC London once again. Ribiero would be forced to foil several dangerous attacks from Vaughan, giving him a good opportunity to show his skill. A quick counter-attack by FC London would start following a tackle by Seymore in the 82′. The ball would make its way to Gigolaj, who would sidestep the keeper and put one between the pipes for the visitors. Sadly, there would be no more goals for either side through the end of the match.
Vaughan Azzurri triumphed 4 – 2 over FC London. This makes Vaughan not only the L1O Cup winner, and the regular season champion, but the overall victors of L1O for 2016. It was a good match for both teams, but Vaughan was markedly the better of the two.
During the off-season, I would watch a bunch of these players for movement to PDL, USL, or possibly even NASL. From Vaughan, I would watch Di Chiara, Whiteman and Phillips especially, although Gogarty and Kovacevic are also top-notch. FC London’s Gigolaj, Seymore, Ribiero, and to a lesser extent, Amaya, will also be worth a look, perhaps through the London TFC identification centre.