Mathew Santos scored on a 63rd-minute tap-in while substitute Nolyn Do Nascimento added the insurance during injury time as the Oakville Blue Devils won this all-important match against Vaughan Azzurri by a final score of 2-0.
This Sunday afternoon match at McNaughton Park had title implications for both teams, despite two months still remaining in the season. Oakville was second place in the western conference before the match, five points behind Sigma for the lead at the start of the weekend, though Sigma’s 2-0 defeat of North Toronto would’ve resulted in an eight-point gap had Oakville failed to win here. Vaughan was in a similar position, sitting third in the eastern conference, four points behind Woodbridge for the lead but needing a win here to maintain that gap as the Strikers faced an easy three points against ProStars later on in the day.
The first half started off with Oakville controlling the bulk of the play – strong, frequent communication from the whole team which was louder at times than the eighty-strong crowd on the sidelines, and aggressive pressure in the midfield which made it tough for Vaughan to generate anything other than quick passing plays or long balls down the wings. Oakville was able to control more of the possession throughout the first half, and as a result, were able to set more more quality chances than their opposition.
There were no goals in the first half but a few great chances. Vaughan’s Tomasz Sklublak nearly earned a penalty less than ten minutes into the first half, as the through ball sent his way ended in a collision with a diving Matt George about six yards inside the box; it seemed like a penalty to me (and, of course, the Vaughan fans in attendance), but the referee didn’t feel like tipping the scales so early in the match. Oakville’s Mat Santos had a great chance about ten minutes after that, as he received the ball after an intercepted pass about 20 yards out, but his strike into the top-right corner (and Colm Vance’s beautiful yet futile dive) was called back on an offside – Oakville wasn’t happy with the call but it seemed plausible in my opinion, as Santos looked slow to move back as Vaughan as moving up the field. Filipe Vilela had the last great chance for Oakville just before halftime, as a cross from the left side found him unmarked only eight yards out from goal, but Vance managed to get a hand on Vilela’s shot and tipped it out for a corner.
Both teams started to lose their discipline throughout the first half, frustrated by inconsistencies in the refereeing and late (or non-existent) calls from the assistants. I was actually impressed by the referee in the opening part of the match – he managed to maintain control and keep the game moving despite some unpopular calls – but he refused to pull out the cardbook despite some blatant shoves and reckless tackles early on in the game, and the players started walking all over him once they realised that his bark had no bite. By the time the yellows started flying (seemingly haphazardly, in some cases), it was already too late.
The second half opened with more controversy, as Oakville’s Mat Santos had his foot caught by a Vaughan defender as he raced for a through ball just outside the box. The foul call (correct, in my opinion) was strongly argued by a number of Vaughan players for several minutes while the referee made no effort to get the game moving, and I think a stronger response on his part to break up the continued dissent would have been beneficial. In any case, the resulting free kick was blocked by the wall and came to nothing.
Oakville finally got the opening goal just under halfway into the second half, despite seeming less disciplined and providing Vaughan with more possession than they had in the opening 45. Filipe Vilela made a strong run in from the right wing before his centering pass found Mathew Santos alone near the penalty spot, who made no mistake as his shot beat Colm Vance and found the left corner of the net.
From that point on, Oakville moved onto a defensive footing and both teams got increasingly chippy (it’s a credit to both teams that there wasn’t a lot of diving later on in the game). Vaughan earned a number of free kicks which were held away by Matt George and the rest of Oakville’s defensive line, but wasted some good runs down the wings as their wingers often found themselves alone or having fouls called against them for challenges against the Oakville defenders. Desperate for an equaliser late into injury time, Vaughan’s keeper came forward on a 20-yard off-angle free kick, and the gamble didn’t pay off – the ball came off of Oakville’s line and found its way to Nolyn Do Nascimento (who had only entered the game a minute earlier to replace an injured Vilela), who sent a long rolling ball into the vacant Vaughan net from just ahead of the centre line. Vaughan almost managed to claw one back with the last play of the game, as Brandon John managed to get his foot on a cross from just four yards out, but his effort went wide and Oakville ended with the 2-0 victory.
With the victory, Oakville remains firmly in second place in the western conference; five points behind Sigma for the lead and five points ahead of TFC III for third place. In fact, nothing changed in the western conference at all this week – the top six teams in the west all won their matches, while Woodbridge was the only eastern team in the top four to claim points in the east. Oakville will be looking ahead to their match against Sigma just before the Civic Holiday; a loss there would almost certainly end their title hopes, while a win will give us an interesting end to the season. Beyond that match, their two remaining hurdles are TFC III and a makeup game against Woodbridge, though London could potentially play spoiler in the second-last week of the season. The loss finishes off Vaughan’s matches against the top western conference teams, though with losses against Sigma, TFC III, and now Oakville, they have nothing except a respectable goal difference to show against those teams. If there’s any bright spot to come out of this inter-conference stretch for Vaughan, it’s that Woodbridge still has to play all three of those teams, and have been dropping points against mid-level teams from the west. Nevertheless, that seven-point gap has got to start looking awfully big.
#27 – Matt George (GK)
#5 – Konnor McNamara – YC (59′)
#6 – Victor Gallo
#9 – Filipe Vilela – Off (90+5′)
#13 – Mathew Santos – Goal (63′) – Off (87′)
#14 – Taylor McNamara
#16 – Khody Ellis – Off (83′)
#19 – Logan Podrebarac – Off (70′)
#20 – Hitesh Joshi
#22 – Al James – YC (56′)
#23 – Anthony Novak – Off (70′)
#11 – Junior Roserie – On (70′)
#8 – Judah Hernandez – On (70′)
#29 – Brandon Duarte – On (83′)
#10 – Braden Culver – On (87′)
#17 – Nolyn Do Nascimento – On (90+5′) – Goal (90+6′)
OAKVILLE 2:0 VAUGHAN
63′ GOAL – OAK #13 Mathew Santos
90+6′ GOAL – OAK #17 Nolyn Do Nascimento
36′ YC – VGN #16 Devante Walker
43′ YC – VGN #9 Jarek Whiteman
56′ YC – OAK #22 Al James
59′ YC – OAK #5 Konnor McNamara
72′ YC – VGN #10 Tomasz Sklublak
76′ YC – VGN #2 Jarred Phillips
#1 – Colm Vance (GK)
#2 – Jarred Phillips – YC (75′)
#4 – Christopher Mannella
#5 – Daniel Gogarty
#6 – Brandon John
#7 – Jahsua Mills – Off (63′)
#9 – Jarek Whiteman – YC (43′)
#10 – Tomasz Sklublak – YC (72′)
#11 – Brandon Mills – Off (87′)
#16 – Devante Walker – YC (36′) – Off (84′)
#24 – Joseph Di Chiara
#14 – Andrea Lombardo – On (63′)
#29 – Mario Kovacevic – On (84′)
#17 – Jackson Tooke – On (87′)
Aurora grabbed an early lead courtesy of Basel Rashrash, but London replied with three unanswered goals (including two from Daniel Oshana in the second half) to claim the 3-1 victory. London maintains a three-point cushion between TFC III and Windsor for fourth place in the west, while the loss marks Aurora’s 10th of the year.
Ottawa South United roared to a 5-0 victory over the Sanjaxx Lions in Ottawa this weekend. Marco Natoli scored his 7th and 8th goals of the season while Thomas Hatch earned the clean sheet. Ottawa’s win was one of only two for eastern conference teams this weekend, allowing them to jump over Master’s for fifth place while sitting only four points back of the North Toronto Nitros for second in the east. The loss (coupled with a Sigma victory) formally eliminates Sanjaxx from title contention.
Sigma found goals from Dominic Samuel and Tajon Buchanan to claim a 2-0 win over North Toronto in our other match of the week. The win gives Sigma a six-game winning streak and maintains their five-point lead at the top of the western conference. North Toronto stays ahead of Vaughan and Durham with those two teams losing as well, but now fall six points behind Woodbridge for the conference lead. Triston Henry earned the clear sheet for Sigma.
Toronto FC III suffered a scare courtesy of an early Jose De Sousa goal for Master’s this weekend, but Nicholas Osorio responded with two goals while Jordan Faria added another to give TFC III the 3-1 victory. With the win, they stay in third place – three points ahead of London and five behind Oakville – with a game in hand against both teams. Master’s falls two points behind Ottawa to return to sixth place in the east.
Toronto Skillz held a 2-1 halftime lead against North Mississauga, but surrendered three goals in the second half to fall to the Panthers by a 4-2 scoreline. The win keeps North Mississauga all alone in sixth place, while Skillz falls to twelve losses on the year.
Stephen Ademolu scored his second of the night on the brink of injury time to nullify an Edward Lay equalizer and give Windsor TFC the 2-1 victory over Durham United. With the loss, Durham now sits only a single point ahead of Ottawa South for fourth place in the east, though second place remains only three points away. Windsor sits three points behind London for fourth place in the west, though a bye week for them next week opens the possibility of that widening even further.
Woodbridge found goals from four different players as they earned the 4-0 victory over ProStars in the last match of the weekend. The win moves Woodbridge six points clear of the nearest eastern conference team while ProStars is officially eliminated in the western conference title race. Quillan Roberts earned the clean sheet for the Strikers.