I joined Aurora FC for this League1 Ontario opening weekend as they introduced two newcomers to the league; their new pitch at St. Maximillian Kolbe, and the league’s newest team – Ottawa South United.
The match started at four in the afternoon with sunny skies and a brisk, cold wind moving from left to right across the pitch as viewed from the bleachers (favouring Aurora in the first half). This was Aurora’s first match after spending last season at Sheppard’s Bush; the new pitch seemed to be good quality (probably the better of the three I’ve seen from the York Region L1O turf fields), though the downside was the football lines on the field as the pitch is located on the property of a high school. Attendance seemed to be about fifty or sixty people, not including the dozen or so ballboys stationed around the pitch who doubled as an impromptu cheerleading section whenever the feeling moved them.
Despite conceding an early goal off a corner kick, I felt that Aurora was the stronger team through the first thirty minutes; consistent communication between keeper Alex Jakma and his defensive line generally kept Ottawa at bay, while good midfield pressure forced Ottawa into giveaways and made them resort to long balls downfield that would rarely result in good opportunities. On the flip side, though Aurora had the initiative in the midfield, they could rarely create threatening changes from it; many attempts into the Ottawa end fizzled out into harmless crosses, offside calls, or shots that either went well wide or slowly rolled towards the net. Aurora’s offensive pressure rarely seemed to make through to Ottawa’s keeper during this part of the game, while Ottawa was able to catch the hosts flat-footed during a counter-attack on multiple occasions.
Aurora’s first goal came minutes before the half time interval, after both teams started threatening each others’ goal with more regularity; Ottawa was starting to control more of the play in the midfield, while Aurora was starting to make more of their chances count. Sadly, Aurora’s goal had little to do with this prowess; what appeared to be miscommunication between two Ottawa defenders left Aurora’s Chris Jacovou alone with the ball off a long kick towards the Ottawa end, and he made no mistake with the opportunity after a short run towards the visitors’ goal and a precise kick to the side of the charging Ottawa keeper. I should note that the goalscorer was announced (and is still recorded on the league website) as Matthew Caguana, but a few photos I took at the time clearly give the goal scorer’s number as Jacovou – unless the player numbers were different from the ones provided on the program.
Ottawa responded quickly after the half (now with the wind at their backs) after a long drop kick found its way to their left winger, who made a quick centering pass to find Gabriel Bitar for Ottawa’s second goal of the afternoon. Only minutes later, Bitar had a chance for the hat trick after a wonderful offensive steal by OSU forward Alex Nzanga, but he was brought down in the left side of the box while Ottawa’s calls for a penalty went unheeded. Ottawa’s pressure would pay off, though, after OSU defender Walker Smith made an absolutely marvelous run down half the field, slicing through Aurora’s midfield, only to be brought down on the edge of the box – and this time, Ottawa would take no exception with the referee’s call, as Dario Conte would strike the ensuing penalty to the keeper’s right and hand the visitors a 3-1 lead.
Ottawa would manage to hold the balance of play for the rest of the match, with Aurora launching probing attacks through the wings and the occasional long ball that went too far ahead of any support to pose a serious threat. Particularly effective for Aurora was the combination of Michael Nitchov in midfield and Jalen Noronha on the left wing, as the two combined on many occasions to quickly move and control the ball upfield, but Noronha went off injured in the 63rd minute. Neither keeper faced many serious attempts in the final third, as most shots seemed to go well wide or high above the net. Ottawa would go on to win the match by that 3-1 scoreline.
I wasn’t fortunate enough to see any Aurora matches last year, but the team never seemed overwhelmed on the pitch as might be expected from their results last season – whether that is due to an improved Aurora team or from an Ottawa team still finding its groove remains to be seen. While Ottawa seemed to be the better team (certainly in the second half), it would not have been impossible for Aurora to have won this contest, especially if they had managed to make something of their chances & midfield control during the first thirty minutes.
Interested in hearing more about OSU’s League1 Ontario team? While Northern Starting XI aims to have complete coverage of soccer throughout the country, we currently do not have anyone in Ottawa dedicated to writing articles on League1 Ontario’s OSU Force. Teams at all levels of the Canadian soccer pyramid deserve to have fans, spectators, and people working hard to help make the team and sport a success. We’re eagerly seeking someone in Ottawa that would like to contribute articles covering the team, its growth, and development throughout the year. If you’d like more details, please visit our team recruitment page or send us an e-mail.
I’ll probably be covering Aurora FC a little bit less than my other two York Region teams, unless their results demand otherwise. Tickets are $5 at Max Kolbe, just east of Industrial Parkway on Wellington, with no concession that I could see. Come and join me at any of the following matches:
Saturday, June 24 @ 9:00 PM – North Mississauga SC (@ Highland Park)
Saturday, August 26 @ 4:00 PM – Durham United FA
Sunday, September 24 @ 7:00 PM – Woodbridge Strikers (@ Vaughan Grove)
Once they release the League1 Cup schedule, I’ll probably try to include a cup match in that list as well. My next report will be next weekend, as the Woodbridge Strikers take on Durham United FA; Sunday, May 7 @ 7:00 PM from Vaughan Grove. See you then!
#1 – Alexander Jakma (GK)
#4 – Gianmariano Della Sera (D)
#5 – Ukasha Zaighum (D)
#6 – Joey Tituana (M)
#7 – Basel Rashrash (M/F)
#8 – Lucas Doros (M)
#10 – Matthew Caguana (M)
#11 – Dylan Rennie (M/F)
#14 – Michael Nitchov (M)
#16 – Chris Jacovou (F)
#18 – Calvin Witzel (D)
#99 – Dylan Roisien (GK)
#3 – Andres Sanchez (D)
#4 – Justin Earl (D)
#5 – Rowan Martino (D)
#7 – Gabriel Bitar (F)
#9 – Dario Conte (M)
#10 – Marco Natoli (M/F)
#12 – Alex Nzanga (F)
#21 – Toni El-Asmar (D)
#23 – Walker Smith (D)
#54 – Ibrahim Soukary
8′ – OSU Gabriel Bitar (AUR 0 – 1 OSU)
44′ – AUR Chris Jacovou (credited to Matthew Caguana (AUR 1 – 1 OSU)
48′ – OSU Gabriel Bitar (AUR 1 – 2 OSU)
58′ (pen) – OSU Dario Conte (AUR 1 – 3 OSU)