“And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain”
Sigma concluded their 2017 season in style comfortably beating TFC III 5-0 on Thursday night at Hershey Field, before ending the season with an emphatic 10-0 win over Windsor TFC. Sigma already knew going into these fixtures that they had lost the title to Oakville after they earned a 0-0 draw with Woodbridge the evening before, but were determined to go out on a high note.
It was a late start at Hershey Field but a large number of people were out to watch this game between two of the best teams in the league. Sigma reverted into their typical big game tactic of sitting deep and breaking quickly, using Giuliano Frano as the pivot in front of the defence playing long diagonal balls out to the side to Kadell Thomas or Johnny Grant on the flanks.
The game started with TFC playing the ball around comfortably which they did for most of the game. Sigma were happy to let TFC have the ball in front of them and settle into a solid formation. Another weapon Sigma had on display was 17 year old Hilli Goldhar, making only his second appearance of the season, and was a danger almost every time he got the ball and ran at the defence. It was his run that led to the first goal after just 5 mins, attacking down the right, taking on left back Riley Ferrazzo driving to the goal line and winning a corner. The corner was whipped into the 6-yard box where goalkeeper Gianluca Catalano and his defence failed to deal with it and in the ensuing scramble Dominic Samuel poked the ball into the goal for his second of the season. Very different from his first which was a screamer against North Toronto Nitros.
The nature of the League1 this season meant that there are big distances between the quality of some of the teams, with a lot of CanPL prospects coming back into the league. From the start of this game you could tell that that these were two very good sides, with the pace and quality of control and passing evident. However, Sigma had a game plan and they stuck to this plan through out, using their experience and countered with devastating effect.
Part of this game plan was putting pressure on the TFC players, getting on top of them immediately upon receiving the ball, and this is how they got their second after 11 mins. Luca Petrasso came deep to collect the ball from his defence, but was pounced upon by Goldhar who won possession, with options on both sides the central defenders were split and Goldhar drove through the middle into the gap and struck a left footed shot into the bottom right hand corner.
TFC didn’t know what hit them, having not really been in this situation this early all season and increasingly struggled to hold onto the ball and create any meaningful efforts, just long shots from around the edge of the area due to the number of players Sigma got back behind the ball. Whereas Sigma were still able to attack in numbers, and each time they went forward it looked like they might score. And they did again in the 21st minute. Kadell Thomas retrieved a clearance from a corner on the left and beat his man to the goal line, pulling the back to Alex Halis in the centre of the box. His shot was saved by Catalano and pushed out to the left, but only to Frano who emphatically fired home from close range.
The game slowed down a bit for the next 20 mins, with both teams having periods of possession but neither creating any real goal scoring chances. That was until Thomas retrieved another corner at the back post. This time came inside onto his right foot and looped a lovely strike into the far top corner giving the goalkeeper no chance. At the time I thought he was trying to just cross it in to the back post, but watching again, and seeing the body shape as he shoots, I think Sigma’s top scorer meant this. Goal of the week.
This put Sigma up 4 nil with just a few minutes left of the half, but they still had time to make it 5 when Mansoor Alfazy took the ball past one midfielder into space and ran unchallenged towards the back line. Goldhar made an intelligent run, faking going behind the centre back and as he turned, darted in front latching onto Alfazy’s perfectly weighted ball between the defenders for Goldhar to slot it first time past the on rushing goalkeeper into the far corner.
This is more than Sigma could have wished for and was the most disciplined performance I have seen all season from them especially against top opposition. They didn’t look likely to concede and looked dangerous every time they went forward.
The second half played out in a similar manner, with Halis and Jodah both having good chances to make it 6 nil, but neither team able to make the break through.
The only thing of note happened in the 85th minute when TFC substitute Terique Mohammed was sent off for spitting in the face of Daniel Jodah. For the previous 20 minutes those two had noticeably verbally sparring with each other, and with Goldhar before that. I was following the action so didn’t notice the incident at the time, but on the video, it does look like this could be the case. After consulting with the lino, the referee decided to send the TFC defender off.
What surprised me about this game was that despite Sigma knowing they had lost the league title, they pushed and pressured the whole game keeping up the same level of energy. I wondered how high their motivation would be, but they went out there looking like they needed this win more than TFC, who looked defeated in the second half rarely troubling Henry on goal.
All in all best display I can remember this season from Sigma, and if they were able to perform like this in one of those games against London, or the first game against Windsor it could have been them going to the L1O final instead of Oakville.
Meh, this game had the most obvious outcome, and just had that air of just fulfilling fixtures. Windsor since mid August having been on an embarrassing run*, conceding 45 goals in 8 games – yet somehow still beating FC London penultimate game saving some face.
*In fairness to Windsor, this run of form is likely down to huge squad turnover using 59 players this season and pretty much a whole new team in this time, and on one occasion only being able to field 10 men.
I’m not even going to bother going through all goals like I’d normally do. Sigma didn’t have to get out of 2nd gear and were 4 nil up at half time without even conceding a shot, on or off target. Halis, Jodah, Kalonji and Matic scored the Sigma goals. Kalonji’s goal was one of note, forcing his way around the right back and firing in at the near post.
Winsdor’s luck got even worse after the break when Thomas’ long shot was deflected into his own net by the defender. Windsor did manage to create a few chances but nothing too troubling for Baj Mann in goal.
Mike Matic got himself another 4 goals in the second half taking his tally to 7 goals for the season, along with Halis getting onto the scoresheet making it 10 in total. All well taking goals, but there was far too much space and time for Sigma to do what they wanted. Windsor haven’t been able to deal with the mid season exodus of players. This will be something to work on for next season.
All things considered, it was a good end to the season by Sigma, but there will be some disappointment that they again didn’t make the final despite the team they had this year, especially as they might not have the same level of players in 2018. I’ll do a full review of the season soon and go into more depth on my thoughts how it all went.