Success Stories: Teams
NITROS CLASH IN WINTER GAMES SEMI
Both squads reach last four of Futsal showpiece at Orillia 2020
ON THE MEDAL TRAIL...Nitros U18s want Gold and Bronze hot on the heels of their Ontario Indoor Cup
NORTH TORONTO NITROS SOCCER will celebrate a truly special match on Saturday as our U-18 Boys squad face off against EACH OTHER in the semi-final of the prestigious Ontario Winter Games Futsal Cup at Orillia 2020.
With two teams making the best eight in the province for the showdown at the Games the hope had always been that Nitros could somehow plot a way for BOTH to be in medal contention come the weekend.
And after two days of drama in the gym at Orillia Secondary School battling it out in the 5 v 5 format of the game that’s just how it has turned out.
College Prep Mens Team Head Coach Marko Milanovic, using the indoor competitions as a way to sharpen his team for League One, took charge of the Green Team.
He saw his squad make a sluggish start to be edged out 3-2 by Bryst Vaughan in their opener.
That only served to give them the jolt needed to reach their best, though, and they overwhelmed North Mississauga Panthers 15-0 and then defeated Unionville 9-0 to ease into qualification for the last four.
Coach Marko told ntsoccer.com: “Friday’s performances were a great response to the opening game when we were nowhere near ourselves and the players knew that.
“We got a reminder of the standards we have set and why we must always strive to meet them in EVERY match we play, whatever the format, whoever we play, wherever we are.”
The Green Team’s progress was all the more commendable when you consider that goalkeeper Patricio Hempelmann - who had school exams and has not arrived in Orillia yet - hasn’t played a minute to date.
Instead outfield players Cristian Cuxom and Tadija Vukas have deputised and played with courage and flair to keep clean sheets in the closing two section games.
The Red Team, coached by the club’s Manager of Coach Development Iain King on this occasion, were embroiled in a hugely competitive section.
They emerged 5-3 winners from a tough opening match against Futsal Club Toronto on Thursday to give themselves a great chance of advancing on Friday.
What followed was a rollercoaster ride as NT were first edged out in the dying seconds to lose a thriller 3-2 to London Athletic.
Then in the decider against Kitchener the Nitros were toiling and 3-1 down when they withdrew outstanding keeper Daniel Delo and pitched in Dennis Escobar to play as a fifth outfield player and go for broke with 10 minutes to go.
In an incredible turnaround they hauled it back to level terms before Jaylen Drummond sent the Nitros contingent wild with an ice-cool finish to win it 4-3.
FACE-OFF...(for l-r) Cristian Cuxom, Tadija Vukas, Daniel Delo and Jaylen Drummond
Iain smiled afterwards: “I think we went through every emotion known to man in that last game, it was unreal.
“We even coped with a red card on Antonio Tripodi at a key time of the match to survive two big minutes a man down late on.
“It was an unbelievable comeback. We said to Jaylen on the bench: “Big players, big moments” and he produced one. It’s a privilege to coach the boys and be involved in such a special event.”
The Kitchener win meant the Red Team topped their section on goal difference but sadly it also put them on a collision course with their team-mates in Saturday’s High Noon semi-final.
It guarantees a Nitros team in the Final but coach Marko confessed: “I would rather have taken our chances against each other for the Gold Medal.
“It’s amazing, though, that whichever of our teams loses in the semi will still have a bronze medal to shoot for in third/fourth game on Sunday.
“This has been another incredible experience for the boys and Iain and I will step out of coaching in the semi. The boys will coach themselves and let the best team win!”