Jarek Whiteman scored twice and Colm Vance earned the clean sheet for Vaughan as the Azzurri claimed a 2-0 victory over Windsor TFC in League1 Ontario action on Sunday afternoon. The win moves Vaughan into a tie with the Nitros for second place in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand, three points behind Woodbridge for the conference lead.
The match started out under sunny skies – a welcome relief from the storms that had rolled through only an hour or two earlier and had cancelled several OPDL matches. Vaughan started off in full control of the play, moving well around the outside and taking advantage of mistakes and miscommunication by the Windsor defense to maintain possession. Chances for Windsor were few and far between, and the few runs they had downfield were more often as a result of tenacious pressure on the Vaughan defense by forwards Noah Pio and Celso Carapau than from any offensive effort by the Windsor midfield. Despite the match being scoreless for the first twenty minutes, an eventual Vaughan victory never seemed to be in doubt.
Vaughan made great use of Jahsua Mills on the left wing to create a number of chances in the opening half; several times he was on the receiving end of long balls and was able to outmaneuver Windsor’s Damon Johnson-Holder on a number of occasions. Johnson-Holder was forced to play tighter and tighter with each attempt, until in the 20th minute, he took Mills down inside the box to give Vaughan the penalty it needed to open the scoring. Jarek Whiteman would make no mistake from the spot, finding the bottom-left corner while Stars keeper Kyle Vizirakis drove the opposite way, giving the home side a 1-0 lead.
From that point in the game, the tone seemed to change – no longer was Vaughan leading a one-sided affair, but Windsor started to control play in the midfield much more frequently and were generating a near-equal amount of chances. Vaughan’s players would find themselves surrounded by multiple Windsor defenders if they held onto the ball for too long, though Vaughan was still able to generate chances through quick break passes as before. Windsor managed to create a few good-quality rushes downfield thanks to a wonderful tag-team of Noah Pio and Stefan Zastavnikovic working together on the left side of the field.
Three good chances to score stood out in my mind in the rest of the first half. Windsor’s Celso Carapau made a great steal off Vaughan’s Brandon John for a clear run in at the Vaughan net just 25 yards away, only for the play to be called back for a foul which seemed rather questionable in my mind – had player continues, Carapau would have had a decent amount of time to line up a shot without interference (John would earn a caution a few minutes later after a wayward arm caught Noah Pio in the stomach as he made a rush down the left side). Tomasz Sklublak would have a great chance for Vaughan about five minutes before halftime as he caught Windsor keeper Kyle Vizirakis far out of his net with a chip shot from the right corner of the penalty area, only for Vizirakis to save the day with an backwards-over-the-head swing of the arm – one that only worked because he easily stands a head taller than anyone else on his team. I noticed Vizirakis taking some risks by playing well out of his net all game, and wouldn’t have been surprised if Vaughan had managed to take advantage and score a goal on one of those occasions.
For his part, Sklublak was frustrated by nearly half-a-dozen offside calls against him in the match, to the point where the referee warned him just before halftime that any more whinging about it would earn him a caution – a threat that went unenforced for the rest of the game. The last great chance of the half came off a 30-yard free kick deep into injury time which forced Vizirakis into a diving save that ricocheted off the crossbar before going out. Vaughan would argue with the referee after he blew for halftime without allowing the corner to be taken, but his mind was unchanged and both teams left the field as a storm moved in.
What a storm it was though – lightning, (easily) pea-sized hail, rain, and fierce winds marked a storm band which moved in quickly from the west, forcing anyone around to seek shelter under the tents around the field. The storm passed fairly quickly – about fifteen minutes or so – but turned the field so white with hail that you could barely even see the lines at times. Luckily, the sun came out as soon as the storm passed to melt all the hail, and by the time the second half started about 45 minutes later, you couldn’t even tell there had been any hail on the field at all.
Vaughan started off strong in the second half, using quick, precise passes which put pressure on the Windsor back line and eventually led to a goal. Jarek Whiteman would earn his second of the afternoon after a ball bounced in from the left corner to find him about eight yards out and just to the right of the net, and he would make no mistake in putting his side up by two. Windsor would loudly complain about a handball on the play but I couldn’t see one from where I was sitting – my guess would be that they saw something as Whiteman controlled the ball in front just before booting it home. They would similar call for another handball about five minutes later which I felt was more justified, but the referee waved off their appeals then as well.
Two good chances stuck out in my mind during the second half. The first was by Vaughan striker Tomasz Sklublak who found himself with a clear shot about 15 yards out after receiving a pass from the right side, but his kick was mistimed and the opportunity ended in a weak shot which rolled left of the net. The second was a wonderful 30-yard shot by Windsor’s Noah Pio a few minutes later which forced Colm Vance to make a wonderful diving save and force the ball out for a corner. No more goals would be scored, though two cautions were given during injury time – one to Vaughan’s Malcolm Loukides for running to stand about 3 inches in front of a Windsor free kick, and another to Windsor’s Stephen Ademolu for pulling down a Vaughan midfielder as he ran forward with the ball just before the final whistle. Vaughan walked away with the 2-0 victory.
Several players stood out for me on the defensive line. Windsor’s Dredon Kelly showed good anticipation to break up promising Vaughan attacks on multiple occasions, while Vaughan’s Devante Walker and Jarred Phillips both displayed good footwork and situational awareness to spearhead quick counter-attacks down the wings when they were able to intercept Windsor’s efforts going the other way.
Vaughan’s win, coupled with a North Toronto loss to Oakville and Woodbridge’s draw against London, moves them into a tie for second place, three points behind Woodbridge for the conference lead, with a game in hand against both teams (as a result of the weather-cancelled match in London last week). Windsor remains in 5th place in the Western Conference, now two points behind London and only one point ahead of North Mississauga after their 1-0 victory against Aurora the night before. Vaughan will face Sigma at home next Sunday, in what should be a great match with title implications for both teams, while Windsor returns home to host Master’s on Friday.
#30 – Kyle Vizirakis (GK)
#3 – Damon Johnson-Holder – YC (20′)
#4 – Noah Pio
#7 – Stefan Zastavnikovic
#8 – Christopher Al-Youssef – Off (56′)
#10 – Celso Carapau
#11 – Bryce Phillips
#13 – Kyle Ruggaber – Off (76′)
#15 – Michael Brait
#20 – Dredon Kelly
#21 – Stephen Ademolu – YC (90+5′)
#5 – Marco Bernabo – On (56′)
#6 – Erik Cirovski – On (76′)
WINDSOR 0:2 VAUGHAN
20′ GOAL (pen.) – VGN #9 Jarek Whiteman
53′ GOAL – VGN #9 Jarek Whiteman
20′ YC – WSR #3 Damon Johnson-Holder
36′ YC – VGN #6 Brandon John
90+3′ YC – VGN #3 Malcolm Loukides
90+5′ YC – WSR #21 Stephen Ademolu
#1 – Colm Vance (GK)
#2 – Jarred Phillips
#5 – Allister Johnson
#6 – Brandon John – YC (36′)
#7 – Jahsua Mills
#9 – Jarek Whiteman – 2 Goals (20′ pen., 53′)
#10 – Benjamin Futoriansky
#15 – Daniel Gogarty
#16 – Devante Walker
#18 – Tomasz Sklublak
#24 – Joseph DiChiara
#11 – Brandon Mills – On (54′)
#14 – Dena Iezady – On (66′)
#3 – Malcolm Loukides – On (78′) – YC (90+3′)
#8 – Ryan Raposo – On (82′)
#4 – Andranik Kagramanyan – On (89′)
Elsewhere in the league
Toronto FC III found an injury-time strike from substitute Zak Abdi to claim all three points from Durham United in a 2-1 comeback victory on Friday night. They now sit at 19 points for third place in the west, remaining five points behind Oakville for the conference lead, while Durham is now eight points back of east-leading Woodbridge and are almost certainly out of the title hunt there.
Ottawa South United stormed past ProStars with a 8-2 victory Saturday afternoon, scoring five times in the second half and finding goals from seven different players. The win is Ottawa’s first league victory in a month and a half, and breaks a five-game losing streak. They now sit 2 points behind Durham for 4th in the eastern conference, while ProStars remains in last place in the western conference with 1 point in 9 matches.
North Mississauga found a first-half goal from Andi Motina and held off a pressing Aurora throughout the second half to earn a 1-0 victory. The win moves the Panthers to within one point of Windsor in the western conference, while Aurora remains in 7th place in the east with 4 points in 9 games. You can read more about the match here.
Sigma escaped Birchmount Stadium with a 2-1 victory against Toronto Skillz, though it could’ve been much worse as Skillz failed to convert a late-game penalty which would’ve earned them their first point of the season. Sigma barely manages to keep pace in the western conference, and remain one point back of Oakville for the conference lead.
North Toronto missed a great opportunity at Varsity Stadium on Sunday afternoon to claim a share of the eastern conference lead, after dropping a 2-1 decision to the Oakville Blue Devils. The loss keeps them three points back of Woodbridge for the lead in the east, while Oakville maintains the lead in the western conference by a razor-thin one-point margin.
FC London claimed a point off the conference-leading Woodbridge Strikers after the two teams fought to a 1-1 draw at Vaughan Grove on Sunday night. The draw gives London a two-point lead over Windsor for fourth place, while Woodbridge sees their lead over North Toronto and Vaughan shrink to three points.