FROM GAP-TOOTHED KIDS TO 3-TIME CHAMPS
THREE-DOM OF THE CITY...Nitros' triple title kings with the spoils after the 6-1 defeat of Richmond Hill
MARKO MILANOVIC’S hectic soccer schedule doesn’t often give him a chance to hit the pause button never mind the one marked rewind.
Yet as the Fall/Winter season begins to kick into gear he was able to do just that and reflect upon a squad he has raised from gap-toothed kids to young men on the brink of big soccer careers.
Marko has now spent almost a decade coaching a special group of players who wrapped up three OPDL titles on the spin earlier this month.
This time the North Toronto Nitros 03 Boys secured the Charity Shield in stunning style with a 6-1 success over rivals Richmond Hill that saw six different scorers on the mark at Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan.
For Marko - after a somewhat sticky start to the season for the first year Under-17 side - the latest silverware brought a deep sense of satisfaction as his side showed resilience to recover when doubts might have started to creep in.
Head Coach Milanovic told ntsoccer.com: “My biggest worry this season was a certain saturation and perhaps even a lack of hunger.
“The boys have won pretty much everything there is to win and sometimes that can lead to complacency.
“We had some average performances to begin the year but we regained our focus and the boys showed their quality once more.
“Their relentless desire to compete, improve and win is something I haven't seen before from a youth squad.”
That never-ending quest to be the best showed in the Final against Richmond Hill.
They stared down adversity again after Jamal Essibrah put Hill in front on the half hour mark.
De’kwon Barrow pounced on a loose ball to fire home an equaliser and now the pendulum swung back in favour of Nitros.
DOIN' THE DON DON...De'kwon Barrow - Don Don to all at the club - one of six different Final scorers
Defender Thomas Maccarone - with proud dad and Team Manager Frank looking on from the sidelines - fastened onto a corner kick to blast NT into a 2-1 lead.
The second-half became the Nitros Story as first Juan Pablo Delgadillo outfoxed two defenders before his left foot shot ripped into the net.
Then Justin Santos’ screamer made it 4-1 and now it was all about decorating a win that was already in the bag.
Nitros did just that through Pablo Hempelmann and Anthony Aromatario and a memorable triumph was secured.
From winning OPDL titles to securing silverware on their travels in the States to travelling to Germany and defeating powerful Bundesliga Academy sides, Serbian coach Marko’s squad have become a standard bearer squad for the Nitros.
They have done all that by sticking to their principles, continuing to play a refreshing brand of passing soccer and reflecting the humility and respect for the game their mentor always carries with him.
In these days of ever-changing assignments for youth coaches as clubs evolve so quickly, Marko has been able to stick with his boys through their entire journey of development.
There are debates within the coaching world over whether hearing one voice for such a lengthy period of time is healthy.
What is not open to question in this case study is whether it has worked in this instance. This team and the players within it have flourished and the coach has grown up with them in so many respects.
Marko reflected: “There are so many memories that I have of them.
“I have worked with some of them from as early as their Under-7 days when they were missing most of their teeth!
“Now, they're getting ready for senior football. I have countless great memories with this group and I feel very fortunate to be a small part of their lives.”
The biggest reward of coaching in youth football is the positive effect you can have on young players and their lives in the game we all love.
In the Nitros Technical Room every player signing for Toronto FC, every university or college scholarship in the States, every interest in our youngsters in Europe is shared by EVERY coach.
The structure of the club now means that at one time or another these boys and girls will have worked with every coach, all pulling in the one direction to help them take the next steps in their journeys.
For Marko seeing players like Nitros-bred Dylan Lopes make it to Academy football in Portugal or Kael Dimitrov win an offer from Levski Sofia in Bulgaria is why he wakes up every morning ready for another day on the field.
And he stressed: “Kael and Dylan are only the beginning when it comes to transitioning to pro clubs and pro soccer.
“I feel that we have another four or five players who are ready to make the jump given the right opportunity.”
For now the finger is hovering over the fast forward button again as the club prepares the next steps for this gifted Under-17 group.
Plans are in place to test them further as interest in the players in North America and Europe intensifies.
Marko is busy working with all of the boys from Under-15 upwards within the OPDL Program as we look ahead to new challenges in 2020.
Yet for once after the Three-Peat of OPDL titles it was fitting to hit pause and reflect.
Now Marko is ready to go again and he reasoned: “All of the team’s achievements, the trophies and the victories are great.
“However, a player’s individual success and progress is what makes me the most proud and serves as the fuel to keep me working and looking ahead.”
MARC'S FINAL SHOT AT GLORY WITH U17s GIRLS
SPOT-ON...Nitros' U17s Girls celebrate an OPDL Cup shootout success earlier this season - now for the big one
NORTH TORONTO NITROS U17 OPDL Girls Head Coach Marc Maunder will tomorrow (Saturday) say an emotional farewell to his players after the Charity Shield Final against Ottawa South United at Ontario Soccer Centre.
Marc is moving on from his current teams to take charge of the U13 and U14 OPDL Girls sides next term.
That means one last tilt at glory with this gifted group and he said: “I am extremely proud of these young ladies, being able to balance school, a social life and soccer is a huge achievement at their age.
“Another Final is a great reward for their hard work and commitment this season.
“I am really enjoying working with these players and I will be sad to say goodbye to them as the head coach on Saturday after the final whistle.
“A large number of these girls are going to be college bound in Canada or the US, if not already committed. It has been a terrific group for the club.”
Marc has watched this team grow up together through their years with Nitros.
The culture they have built together has been crucial in their success.
He stressed: “The main qualities of this group? The individuals that make up the team want to do something in soccer, they want to train, they want to win and they want to move forward.
“The group is a social group, you can see that by just watching how they interact before a session, but the majority of the time when we step into train they are focused and driven.”
Saturday’s clash will be a tough one, this contest is between two sides who know each other inside-out and OSU are always the toughest of challengers.
Marc revealed: “OSU have had the upper hand against us since we beat them in London 12 months ago for the Ontario Games trophy.
“They have beaten us 2-1 (U15 league) U17 Umbro 2-1, U17 league 2-1, then the league split and we beat them 1-0 two weeks ago and they beat us 2-0 last week.
“Right now, though, everyone is doing their bit for this team, it’s a group that is looking to win a third trophy in three years.
“They all understand their role and what is needed to be successful.”
GILES IS SMILES BETTER!
FINAL SAY...Sarah Giles and Maya Sanchez-Ceccarelli played key roles
SARAH GILES produced one of the most dramatic ever finishes to a Nitros match to rescue the 05s OPDL Girls Charity Shield dreams before Marc Maunder’s side broke Tecumseh hearts in a nerve-wracking penalty shootout at the weekend.
The semi-final at Downsview was edging towards a shattering ending for Nitros as they trailed to a goal from Leah Burrell that seemed set to send resilient Tecumseh into Saturday’s Final with Markham at Ontario Soccer Centre.
Nitros look destined to rue not taking their chances after they dominated the first-half but didn’t notch as their rivals then took over the third quarter after Burrell netted from the spot.
Keeper Maya Sanchez-Ceccarelli showed her Provincial class with two superb stops to keep her side in it before they gritted their teeth and began to fight back in the closing 20 minutes.
No-one could have predicted the heart-stopping finale, though, as midfielder Tejia Murray-Powell, bound for the Regional Excellence Program as she graduates to the next step in her soccer career, hurled in a tempting last-gasp free-kick.
It needed courage to put herself in where the bodies were flying and Giles had that in abundance as she flew in to bury a thumping header in the far corner and spark delirious scenes with no time remaining for the restart.
The match surged into a penalty shoot-out and every Nitro held their nerve superbly to steer the team to a 5-3 win from the spot with Courtney Poon calmly slotting home the clincher.
Coach Mark smiled afterwards: “I guess that is why we all love this game so much. What an incredible last five seconds.
“Sarah was so brave to go for that header and I am very proud of these girls and what they have achieved this season.
“We lost against Tecumseh in the first game of the season and we knew this would be tough, our learning point from the game was to be more clinical when we are on top.
“We owe our keeper Maya for some terrific stops and when it went to penalties I genuinely had so much faith in them.
“The emotional momentum was with us because of the manner of Giles’ goal and we had practiced the penalties in training, right down to that lonely walk from halfway.
“Now we face a tough Markham side in the Final and we need to refocus and look to go one step further.”
PATCHED-UP NITROS SHOW GRIT TO WIN LATE
TOUGHING IT OUT...Sophia Cockett (left) was spot-on, Avery Clarke sparkled
UNITED FA..1 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2
RESOLUTE and understrength Nitros stuck with it despite losing a goal against the run of play and got their reward when skipper Sophia Cockett smacked home a late penalty to win it.
With Hannah Minksy, Reese Clinton, Chloe Cini, Avery Clandfield and Julianna Otano all missing there were call-ups for Emma Inciarte and Morgan Zietlow from the 06s Girls squad and the respite they were able to give the regular starters in the heat in Pickering was vital.
Kayla Briggs' seventh goal of the season levelled it before Cockett's clincher and Head Coach Marc Maunder said: "For the fourth game in a row the 05 girls showed that they keep playing until the whistle, despite being 1-0 down agaijst the run of play going into the final 20 to a very strong United FA who were second to Markham in the East before this one.
"We called in Emma and Morgan from the 06 team for the first time, they both played in the third period and without them we could not have got the result we deserved and wanted, the two call-ups allowed the 05 midfield and front line to rotate and get some rest in the heat.
"We had some terrific performances. Sofia Adams at full-back was great, Sophia Cockett was rock-solid, Avery Clarke was quality and Tejia Murray-Powell, Courtney Poon, Sarah Flood and Kayla were unplayable."
At the break this result left Nitros eight points clear at the top of the Central Division with chasing Vaughan having two games in hand, it will now be an exciting run-in for a squad who will come back refreshed and ready for the second part of the season.
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1 HAMILTON UNITED...2
BRAVE 03s GIRLS PAY THE PENALTY
PAIN GAME...for keeper Sierra Cote-Yarde and Montana Wilcox
OPDL CUP SEMI-FINAL
OAKVILLE..0 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...0
(Oakville win 11-10 on penalties)
NITROS bowed out of the OPDL Cup in heartbreaking fashion in a dramatic penalty shoot-out after a stalemate at Pine Glen.
The visitors created chance after chance but couldn't cash in as the Oakville keeper won the MVP award on the evening and defied them.
Head Coach Marc Maunder felt for his players in a painful defeat, especially fit-again keeper Sierra Cote-Yarde who performed heroics but still ended up on the losing side.
Marc sighed: "The girls did everything but score a goal and it was such a frustrating evening for us. Within 20 seconds Jillian Therrien shot and the goalkeeper somehow tipped over the bar and that become the story of the match.
"Nia Wilson was denied from a header and then saw a volley crash back off the bar and we had so many near things after that too including a goal disallowed for offside.
"We had started this match with only 12 fit players because of injuries and vacations and we then lost Nia with a tear to her lateral cruciate ligament in the second-half. I was proud of our players and I felt they deserved so much more from the game.
"Even in the shoot-out when it went to sudden death they had a kick to win it and Sierra saved it then scored herself! Then she made another big save but in the end it was Montana Wilcox who missed for us and they won it. Tough to take."
FRUSTRATION AGAIN AT PINE GLEN
HIT AND MISS...a sore night forMaddie Penman-Derstine and Jillian Therrien
OAKVILLE...1 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1
NITROS suffered through a night of frustration at Pine Glen as they had a 23-8 advantage on goal attempts but came away with only one point.
Maddie Penman-Derstine scored the Nitros' goal after a goalkeeper error but Head Coach Marc Maunder sighed: "We made an error at the back that gave them a 2 v 1 situation and they picked the correct pass to capitlise.
"Even then Jillian Therrien won a penalty and with Maddie off the field had the courage to take it but sadly missed. It was hugely frustrating but a big plus was that Rufina Abdurusul, Ella Halliday, Simona Busilio and Ceinwyn Beattie from our 04s squad all got another 45 minutes playing a year up."
NORTH MISSISSAUGA...4 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...6
KEEPER ALEX GROWING UP FAST
CONTRASTING FORTUNES...for young Alex O'Brien and Aidan Hugo
BURLINGTON...3 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1
THE ROUGHEST spell of the 04 Boys season continued at Burlington as a crippling list of injuries and vacations left them with just 10 players from the 18-strong OPDL squad available.
Nitros were thankful to be able to call in TSA trio Tomaso Sanelli, Ben Ruthard and Dylan Sabapathy and 06s OPDL goalkeeper Alex O'Brien who played up in another cobbled together squad.
Striker Dylan hauled Nitros level at 1-1 just after the break but a cheap free-kick saw Burlington edge in front and they killed the game off late on.
Head Coach Iain King was philosophical after a week spent feverishly trying to ensure Nitros had 14 players available to make the game.
He stressed: "The big plus for me on the day was Alex’s performance, he can be proud of how he coped playing TWO YEARS up.
"Another huge bonus was my first chance to work with Tomaso Sanelli from our TSA side who was excellent at centre-half. This won’t be the last time he is involved with our squad.
"The core group worked hard and created a lot of chances that went begging and had little luck again with Bilal Abou Reslan seeing one brilliant shot smash off the inside of the post at a key time.
"Burlington, though, deserve credit for the third goal that killed it as they exposed our defensive laziness and failure to track back or close down which has been a weakness all season. We just don’t work hard enough off the ball."
To set the seal on a sore day former Toronto FC midfielder Aidan Hugo was sent off for dissent after an earlier booking for the same offence.
And coach Iain sighed: "Aidan’s sending off was fully deserved, he has to learn to bite his tongue when he is frustrated. In all honesty I could see it coming but the sad fact was we had no fit players left on the bench to replace him by then."
WHITBY...3 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...0
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...3 BURLINGTON...4
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...6 RICHMOND HILL...1
SPOT-KICK HEARTBREAK FOR 04s BOYS
TOUGH TO TAKE...for scorer Ryan Campbell and the excellent Matthew Lee
OPDL CUP QUARTER-FINAL
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...3 VAUGHAN...3
(Vaughan win 5-4 on penalties)
NITROS bowed out of the OPDL Cup in heartbreaking fashion after a spot-kick shootout defeat following a dramatic last eight clash under the lights at Downsview Park on Thursday night.
After dominating the early stages the home side fell behind with a cheap concession from a corner before a slick quick free-kick from Aidan Hugo sent alert midfielder Ryan Campbell in to equalise.
Defensive errors in five calamitious second-half minutes then seemed certain to have condemned Nitros to defeat but - with only 12 fit players for this one - they dug as deep as they could and roared back into the tie.
Evan Jardim raced away from trailing defenders to slam home a superb finish and then brilliant work from Nima Khodaii wide left set up Dino Custovic to dive in back post and guide home a thrilling equaliser.
In a nerve-shredding finish a last-gasp tackle denied Jardim the winner and it went to the lottery of penalties with Vaughan nervelessly potting all five and Custovic, Noah Durao, Hugo and Nic Caramico all successful for Nitros.
It was rough justice that the outstanding Bilal Abou Reslan should be the one to miss and Head Coach Iain King said: "Bilal didn't deserve that and I told him so after the game, he has been outstanding for us this season and scored some superb goals.
"In a game when we only had 12 healthy players - with three on the bench just filling jerseys through injury and illness - he stood up like a man to drive his team on.
"We had players in tears at the end and that shows how much they care, I walked away so impressed with the character shown by players like Matthew Lee and all of those 12 boys.
"Our three games against Vaughan so far have been terrific adverts for the OPDL and this time it was their turn to edge it. They have some class players coached in the right manner and I wish them well for the rest of the tournament."
INJURIES AND ERRORS ARE A BAD MiX
PAIN GAME...for top scorer Bilal Abou Reslan and injured Jayden Mendoza
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2 HAMILTON UNITED...5
INJURY-BATTERED Nitros' week of misery was completed as they collapsed in the second-half to lose at home to a powerful Hamilton side they had defeated 3-0 on their own turf earlier in the season.
Basic defensive errors from a makeshift back four - hampered even further when Jayden Mendoza limped out in the warm-up - killed off any hopes of a pick-me-up after the pain of that penalty shoot-out defeat against Vaughan in the last eight of the OPDL Cup.
Bilal Abou Reslan continued his excellent season with his seventh goal of the campaign, that sees him overtake last season's tally just halfway in, and Dino Custovic grabbed some consolation with a twice-taken late penalty.
Head Coach Iain King sighed: "Right now the injuries mean we are a shadow of the side we can be.
"With 12 fit players the psychological effects of losing on penalties in the OPDL Cup bit deep here.
"We defended so poorly but on reflection at the end we had four midfielders in the back line and no naturals in those positions.
"The game turned on a key incident at 2-1 down when Bilal was denied an equaliser by a freakish bounce of the ball after he chipped the keeper and it hit the bar.
"We then made two horrible errors in defence to gift cheap goals after that and go 4-1 down and the game was gone. With so many players missing it's a test of our character in the games and it will be interesting to see how the players respond."
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...0 RICHMOND HILL...3
04s LEARNING PLAY UP A STEP
EDUCATION TIME...for Ceinwyn Beattie (left) and Natalie Finley-Horne
VAUGHAN...3 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...0
NITROS gave four of the 04s squad half a game each playing up in an encouraging display but lost three goals in a killer spell before the break to fall to defeat.
With top half of the division and a play-off slot already well secured for the second part of the season Head Coach Marc Maunder chose to focus on the positives of a good development opportunity after this one.
And he said: "The goals all came off big mistakes from us but it was a night to look at overall positives. We had 75 minutes of pleasing football and Ella Halliday, Natalie Finley-Horne, Ceinwyn Beattie and Simona Busilio all did really well playing up."
EDGED IT...Victoria Godinho scored Tejia Murray-Powell had penalty shout
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1 OTTAWA TFC...0
IT WAS first v second in the league at University of Toronto in Scarborough and Nitros grabbed a vital win thanks to Victoria Godinho's classy clincher.
Nitros strikers Lauren Root and Charlotte Gray had chances that they would have converted on another day but in the end the league leaders had enough to see off their close rivals.
Head coach Marc Maunder reflected: "Playing second in the league we knew it was going to be tough and having to defend one of the leading goalscorers in the league was not going to be easy.
"The girls were so good against a team much bigger than them and much more physical, we were brave throughout with the way we kept possession and repressed constantly and this meant we were always on top.
"Wa had a great shout for a penalty when Tejia Murray-Powell was brought down but it was not until the final period that we finally beat a very good goalkeeper from TFC, Victoria Godhino scoring a brilliant half-volley."
05s MAKE IT 10-IN-A-ROW
GOAL-DEN TOUCH...Kayla Briggs (left) and Charlotte Gray were on target
RICHMOND HILL...0 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2
ANOTHER two-game weekend and another six points for the focused 05s Girls as they travelled to Richmond Green and came away with a solid victory.
Goals this time came from the lively Kayla Briggs and Charlotte Gray as Nitros made it 10 league wins on the spin since an opening day defeat from Tecumseh.
Head coach Marc Maunder felt his side dipped a little at the beginning of this one, though, and said: "Other than a poor 15 minutes to start the game, this was another very positive performance especially as it was the second game of the weekend.
"The hunt of the ball out of possession, our movement and general play was below the level the girls normally play at in the first period but the last five minutes were stronger and then we controlled the game.
"We took the lead with five minutes left in the third period when Kayla won the ball from a clearance played in Lauren Root who turned and committed the centre-back, Kayla followed her pass and got the return pass to finish high past the keeper.
"We then missed chances before securing the points when some good play down the left meant Kayla could drive towards the near post and cut the ball back for Charlotte Gray to smash home with a good finish."
NORTH MISSISAUGA...1 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...4
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...6 UNITED FA...0
HAMILTON UNITED...1 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...5
HUGO SPARKLES BUT NITROS FALTER
SORE POINT...Aidan Hugo scored a double and skipper Noah Durao netted
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...4 BURLINGTON...4
NITROS walked away with only a point from a game they dominated on a costly afternoon indoor at Ontario Soccer Centre.
Hurt again by a roster missing key players in key positions, the 04s Boys had battled back from a goal down to lead 3-1 with a double from Aidan Hugo who also assisted on a classy free-kick routine that saw skipper Noah Durao curl a spectacular shot into the far corner.
Defensive errors saw Nitros dragged back to parity at 3-3 before Nima Khodaii scrambled home the goal that looked to have clinched three crucial points for Nitros on their title quest.
Sadly a late free-kick from distance sailed home for Burlington and two big points were lost.
Head Coach Iain King sighed: "Our defence has been battered by long-term injuries to key players and absences and this was a tough result to swallow for the boys who worked so hard to keep getting themselves in front.
"Aidan has shown his class on the ball as a player since we signed him from Toronto FC while he knows that we continue to try to improve his work ethic when we are not in possession.
"When it comes to pure natural ability he is a joy to watch, though, and he didn't deserve to be on a team that only took one point from this. The goals and his assist for Noah's brilliant strike were top quality."
05s DRAW A BLANK THEN FACE BIG ONE
OAKVILLE...0 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...0
NITROS had to be content with a point from this one and will look to bounce back from a tough three-game run against title rivals Richmond Hill at Downsview Park on Sunday (July 14).
Head Coach Marko Milanovic's side remain top of the table in the Central Division ahead of RH with the margin now only a solitary point.
This stalemate set the stage for a big clash on home turf as the 05s look to find a way to convert games where they have more possession than their opponents into situations where they find a more clinical way to gather all three points after a run that has seen the leaders gather one point from a possible nine.
U17s SECURE TOP DIVISION SLOT EARLY
ON CAMPUS AND ON TARGET...that's Nia Wilson and Zara Sheridan
WHITBY...0 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2
NITROS ensured they will play in the top division after the split with a solid win over Whitby in the OPDL On Campus event at Guelph University.
On-form Nia Wilson and and Zara Sheridan grabbed the goals in a game that was delayed for 40 minutes through thunder.
Head Coach Marc Maunder said: "It was good to see the girls secure the top half after Nia got us off to a flyer within two minutes when she cut inside off the right and drove low to the near post with her left foot.
"On return from the thunder break we controlled most of the play and scored a second right on half-time when Zara headed home from an Elena Calderwood corner.
"In the the second-half Whitby were dangerous from long balls but we have our keeper Sierra Cote-Yarde back from injury and she swept really well,.
"I felt we controlled most of the possession and it was only us being sloppy that really gave Whitby hope, we also should have scored one or two more from corners but it was not to be.
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2 AURORA...2
MADELINE PENMAN-DERSTINE scored twice but Nitros were pegged back in their second match on Campus at Guelph University and had to settle for a point.
MPD has 12 goals for the season to lie fourth in the U17 Top Scorers stakes, five goals behind Ella Chase of Vaughan as the Nitros striker compiles another impressive season when she has not always played in the front line.
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...0 OAKVILLE...0
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1 OTTAWA SOUTH...4
STATE OF THE UNION: O5s ARE RELENTLESS
KEY CONTRIBUTIONS...from Victoria Godinho (left) and scorer Kayla Briggs
UNIONVILLE...0 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2
PATIENT Nitros held their nerve on the grass at Bill Crothers to rack up another vital three points in their Championship quest.
With Victoria Godinho and Sarah Flood outstanding on the night, goals from Sofia Adams - for the second match on the spin - and Kayla Briggs separated the sides.
For coach Marc Maunder it was a pleasing performance as the girls kept believing in the way they play and he said: "On a grass field that had not been cut and was smaller than most the girls played really nicely.
"The repress was relentless and it meant that we kept Unionville in their own half for three of the four periods, they edged the second but we still created the chances.
"The crossbar and some near misses meant the game was 0-0 at half, a third period penalty seemed to mean we took the lead but Sophia Cockett's kick was asked to be retaken because it was ruled that Victoria Godinho had stepped in to the box,
"Tejia Murray-Powell took the retake and the keeper saved but the pleasing thing is there was no panic, We still had 20 minutes to get what we deserved in my opinion,
"We got there as Sofia Adams scored off a cross after some good work down the wing meant she could cut in and somehow put the ball into the back post side netting, Kayla followed up soon after with some good hold-up play to spin the defender and smash in."
AT-TEN-TION! LAUREN ON TARGET AGAIN
NET GAINS...for the predatory Lauren Root (left) and Chloe Cini
LONDON TFC...1 NORTH TORONTO NITROS..3
LAUREN ROOT grabbed her tenth goal of the season as Nitros made it a six-point week in London.
Goals from Chloe Cini and a third in three matches for the in-form Sofia Adams sealed a satisfying road trip.
And head coach Marc Maunder said: "On a huge field the girls did great, the only down side was London scoring from their only shot and the girls not taking more of their chances as it could and should have been more than three.
"Chloe got the opener within a few minutes from a Sofia Adams cross, Lauren Root then finished nicely from the right hand side of the box across the keeper after great work from Charlotte Gray.
"Then we had the best goal of the three, Lauren picked the ball up centrally after great work by Sarah Giles, Charlotte Gray and Sarah Flood down the left, she slotted the ball between their centre-back and full-back for the right-sided Adams who fired past the keeper.
"In the second-half we controlled the game, moved the ball and created chances, Tejia hit the crossbar and the London keeper made some good saves. It's another week with six points, we have a double-header this weekend and we will be looking for the same but it will be difficult."
SPOT-ON NITROS MAKE OPDL CUP SEMIS
PENALTY PRIZE...keeper Courtney Linn saved two vital spot-kicks and her team-mates rush to show their appreciation
OPDL CUP QUARTER-FINAL
VAUGHAN...1 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1
(Nitros win 6-5 on penalties)
INJURY-HAUNTED Nitros shrugged off the loss of four key players to beat the top seeds on their own turf and march through to the last four of the OPDL Cup at Maple Regional Park South.
Nia Wilson put Nitros ahead from a Maddie Penman-Derstine free-kick but Head Coach Marc Maunder's side suffered the heartache of losing an equaliser three minutes into seven minutes of stoppage time and the game surged into a penalty shootout.
With regular keeper Sierra Cote-Yarde one of those on the injury list, 04s no1 Courtney Linn was between the posts and made two superb saves from the spot to help clinch it.
Nitros showed nerves of steel when it mattered as Penman-Derstine, Jillian Therrien, Ella Baldwin and Wilson put them in a commanding position before Vaughan got back in it after Alya Ruken was denied.
Into sudden death it was all on the line and Jessica Collantes scored to keep Nitros alive before another Linn save left Zara Sheridan in position to slam home the clincher.
Coach Marc saluted a triumph in adversity for his depleted team with REX-bound Olivia Mancini, Montana Wilcox and Emma Parker all out alongside keeper Sierra.
Marc stressed: "We only had 12 healthy players but they trained brilliantly in preparation for this game. Remember, we were playing the #1 seed and we knew we would have to be good defensively and ride our luck to come away with the win.
"That's how it played out and defensively the girls were so good with Alya Ruken just taking the MVP away from Ella Baldwin.
"We had chances after we took the lead, mainly from Jillian who was a constant threat on the counter-attack, and it was tough to lose such a late goal after defending so well.
"Penalties had to settle it and Jessica was stone cold with her sudden-death penalty which put the pressure back on Vaughan. Courtney with her second penalty save meant captain Zara could score to win, she did and the celebrations followed."
Nitros now progress through to the last four and will play Oakville at City View Park on Wednesday July 17.
OPDL CUP QUARTER-FINAL
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...0 WOODBRIDGE...1
Report to come.
INJURY-HIT NITROS REFUSE TO BUCKLE
FIGHTBACK...Bilal Abou-Reslan and Evan Jardim sparked a big Nitros win
BOYS UNDER 15
WHITBY...2 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...3
INJURY-BATTERED Nitros showed character and grit to come back from another horror start and take all three points at Rossland North on Thursday night.
With three key defenders and keeper Ronan Woodroffe out Nitros fell two behind early but fought back in a dramatic first-half with Ryan Campbell cleverly hooking hiome an Aidan Hugo corner then Bilal Abou-Reslan smashing in his sixth goal of an excellent season so far from distacne to tie it up.
Striker Evan Jardim then roared off the bench to seal it with a typically clinical finish and Nitros held on for a big win with 05s call-up Tommie MacLeod putting in an excellent performance at the heart of the defence after the break.
Head Coach Iain King said: “The defensive injuries - with four out in that area - are biting deep and hitting us hard so this was a creditable performance with Tommie MacLeod of the 05s outstanding at the heart of defence second-half which was really pleasing.
“Bilal deserves credit for playing out of position at centre-back in the first period and still producing another magnificent goal to get us back in it.
“Evan was dropped to the bench after dipping in form and scoring with your first touch is the proper way to respond to setbacks like that.”
05s EDGED IN PAINFUL NIGHT AT VAUGHAN
SORE NIGHT...for skipper Tommie MacLeoad and sent off Josh Annibale
VAUGHAN...1 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...0
NITROS dominated possession but couldn't make it pay on a hurtful night on the road as skipper Tommie MacLeod suffered the pain of missing a last-gasp penalty and top scorer Josh Annibale was red-carded.
Vaughan's Aidan Jamal scored the clincher and the 05s Boys - who have made such an excellent start to the season - were left nursing their wounds from a sore evening.
Head Coach Marko Milanovic said: "In terms of possession I was happy with them but we needed more of a cutting edge. I would put Tommie on the penalty again because he has had a terrific season so far and was confident to take the responsibility. He missed and it happens but the boys are learning lessons all the time whether it be on the ball or in temrs of self-discipline.
"I knew this would be a tough match and it played out that way now we have to dig deep for the matches to come."
ADAMS KEEPS 05s ON TITLE TRACK
MAKING IT COUNT...that's scorers Courtney Poon (left) and Sofia Adams
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2 AURORA...1
GOALS from Courtney Poon and Sofia Adams kept title-chasing Nitros on course in a tough test at Downsview.
Adams, whose younger sister Regan is also a Nitros prospect in the 07s group that will move into the OPDL next season, clinched it and coach Marc Maunder paid tribute to his side.
He said: "Right now they are dealing with a heavy schedule and finding ways to keep moving forward as a team. Sofia is an excellent athlete and can be such a threat with her pace."
RUFINA AT THE DOUBLE AS 04s GIRLS HIT HEIGHTS
RED FOR DANGER...the 04s girls were fired up for victory in the sunshine at Vaughan, their best display so far this season
VAUGHAN...1 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2
PROVINCIAL prospect Rufina Abdurusul scored a double as the 04s Girls put in their best display of the season so far to win in Vaughan.
Head Coach Ian Skitch was delighted to see some hard work on the training field pay off in a committed display.
And he said afterwards: "A physical and emotional opponent brought out a new level of compete in the girls. This entertaining match kept slowly gaining steam throughout, finally bringing full drama late on and turning into a three goal thriller.
"Rufina did the damage with two good strikes either side of a Vaughan corner. The girls showed real desire and produced a total team effort in this one. And, for the first time this year, showed some real resilience to carve this one out. This is one to savour and the effect should be a unifying one."
NITROS CHOP DOWN THE OAK
FIVE ALIVE...De'kwon Barrow struck twice with Juan Pablo Delgadillo
also scoring as Nitros stayed tucked in second in the U17s league table
OAKVILLE...2 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...5
NITROS blew Oakville away in a stunning five-goal first-half that saw them march to another big three points in the title chase.
De'kown Barrow's double took his tally to nine for the season so far and Pablo Hempelmann, Justin Santos and Juan Pablo Delgadillo were also on target as Head Coach Marko Milanovic's side turned what looked like a testing fixture into a cruise.
Afterwards Marko stressed: "That was an excellent first half against one of the better teams in the league. We created and converted at a great rate to go up 5-0 at half.
"Second-half, there was a significant drop in our performance and this is something that we will address. We look forward now to the exciting cup tie against Woodbridge on Wednesday."
SLOPPY 04s PAY THE PRICE
HIT AND MISS...Dino Custovic scored but Cole Delagran is on the injury list
OAKVILLE...4 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2
HARD work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.
That summed up this reverse for the 04s Boys who were four down at the break after a dreadful first-half performance at Pine Glen.
Head Coach Iain King sighed: “This was a real low after the high of winning 4-3 against Vaughan the week before.
“We are now without Justin Jamal, Damien Vermande and Cole Delagran in defence and had keeper Ronan Woodroffe limp out within 15 minutes of the start here.
“By then, though, we should have been ahead which would have changed the complexion of the game but our casual finishing summed up our attitude the entire half."
The new-look 04s have had a positive season so far but when they lose their work ethic off the ball they slump.
Coach Iain pointed out: “Slack marking, a lack of appetite to defend in midfield and poor attitude saw us FOUR down at the break.
“Second-half we decided we wanted to play and pulled two back through a Bilal Abou-Reslan free-kick and a Dino Custovic penalty but we got what we deserved. Nothing.
“An unacceptable performance. We need to learn that hard work will always beat talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.”
05s LEADERS TAKE FIRST SETBACK
EDGED OUT...despite goals from Josh Annibale and Abdullah Mohamed
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2 AURORA...3
TABLE-TOPPING Nitros fell to their first league defeat of the season against a powerful Aurora side at Ontario Soccer Centre.
Goals from Josh Annibale - now in the division's Top 10 with eight for the season - and Abdullah Mohamed were not enough as the leaders were edged out.
Head Coach Marko Milanovic reflected: "One poor period cost us the game against a big and athletic opponent. We finished the first-half 1-1 which was quite disappointing considering the number of chances that were missed.
"I am looking forward to seeing how the boys will respond after this setback as we play a tough Vaughan team next."
03s BOYS REVIVE TITLE HOPES
TARGET MEN...Thomas Maccarone and Abdul Hamad scored against Aurora
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...3 VAUGHAN...0
AN important weekend on the neutral turf of Kingston began with a comprehensive victory for the 03s Boys over old rivals Vaughan.
Striker De'know Barrow - who now has nine OPDL goals this season - joined Pablo Hempelmann and Kael Dimitrov on the scoresheet as Nitros began to spark their title challenge to life.
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...4 AURORA...0
NITROS made it a six-point haul over the weekend with a comfortable success over Aurora that completed a terrific bounce-back weekend.
Goals from Abdul Hamad, Thomas Maccarone, Pablo Hempelmann and De'kwon Barrow secured the win this time and Head Coach Marko Milanovic said: "It was a good weekend to get us back on track after a couple of hurtful losses.
"The team reaction was good, especially considering that we were missing our starting goalkeeper Samim Shouly and Tadija Vukas who is a key man for us in the midfield. There is still a lot of work to be done as the division is very close and competitive. We are looking forward to our next match against Oakville on Saturday."
04s EDGE SEVEN-GOAL THRILLER
TO THE FOUR...Ryan Campbell (left) had two assists and former Toronto FC
midfielder Aidan Hugo was also on target for Nitros against Vaughan
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...4 VAUGHAN...3
NITROS showed both sides of their soccer character in a seven-goal thriller at Downsview against one of the division's top sides.
The 04s Boys scored goals of stunning quality but as defesnive injuries bite they also gifted away three at the other end and had to hang on for all three points.
Bilal Abou-Reslan's stunning 25-yard volley opened the scoring but Nitros were hauled level within a minute before a brilliant nine-pass team move ended with Dino Custovic putting the home side in front from Ryan Campbell's second assist of the match.
Nima Khodaii then stabbed home from Custovic's set-up but again Vaughan fought-back before a thumping Aidan Hugo volley made it 4-2 and there was still time for another Vaughan goal to give Nitros a late scare.
Head Coach Iain King said: "The quality of the goals scored on the day was superb, from two stunning finishes from Bilal and Aidan to a brilliant team goal from Dino on the end of a long, flowing passing movement.
"The flip side of that was goals gifted away through poor defending from a makeshift back four without the injured Justin Jamal, the banned Nic Caramico or Damien Vermande who limped out 20 minutes in.
"Defensive flaws aside it was a big reaction to a dreadful performance at Woodbridge the week before and our second win on the spin over Vaughan who are well-coached and an excellent side."
SIX-SHOOTERS STAY TOP OF THE TABLE
THREE-MENDOUS...Josh Annibale hit a hat-trick with Danny Iwamoto also
on target as Nitros stayed stop of the table in a dominant win over rivals SC
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...6 SC TORONTO...1
JOSH ANNIBALE grabbed a hat-trick as table-toppers Nitros put local rivals SC Toronto to the sword at Downsview.
Liam, Rowe, Abdullah Noor and Danny Iwamoto were also on target as the slick-passing Nitros made it seven wins on the spin in a superb start to their first campaign in the scores and standings section of the OPDL.
With Head Coach Marko Milanovic on duty in Kingston with the 03s Boys, Technical Director Billy Wilson was in charge for this one and he said: "The boys moved the ball excellently at times and in the end this was a really solid performance from a group who are growing in stature in terms of their game understanding."
03s GIRLS HAVE A BIG WEEKEND ON CAMPUS
STAND-OUTS...Maddie Penman-Derstine and Ella Baldwin shone for the 03s
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...7 SC TORONTO...0
NITROS began the OPDL On Campus weekend in Kingston with a comprehensive seven-goal win over SC Toronto that saw Nia Wilson score a double.
Maddie Penman-Derstine, Devon Eisen, Chiara English, Montana Wilcox and Isabella Di Carlo were also on target in a comfortable triumph ahead of a more testing game two against Unionville.
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2 UNIONVILLE...1
MADDIE Penman-Derstine was at the double in a big win for Nitros as they stay in title contention with fellow division powerhouses Vaughan and Ottawa South United.
The two wins on the spin left Head Coach Marc Maunder delighted and he said: "The girls completed a successful weekend winning both of their matches. Stand-out performers were Ella Baldwin and Maddie Penman-Derstine although everyone contributed to both wins.
"What made the girls’ accomplishment even more special was the fact that the team was missing several key players."
SEARCHING FOR CONSISTENCY
SECOND-HALF BOOST...04s scorer Amelia Salewicz and call-up Chloe Cini
GIRLS UNDER -15
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1 BURLINGTON...3
PAYING the price for a flat first-half - that was the story for the 04s Girls on a disappointing afternoon at Downsview.
Nitros found themselves three down at the break and although Amelia Salewicz pulled one back as they showed character after the break it was too little, too late.
Head Coach Ian Skitch's side had 05s Girls keeper Maya Sanchez-Ceccarelli between the sticks for this one with younger forward Chloe Cini, who could be very happy with her display, also on show.
The performance level wasn't what the group as a while wanted, though, and coach Ian said: "The girls are going through a difficult spell. Last week their compete level was very high against a tough opponent away from home.
"This week we were a bit flat at home and found ourselves down at the half as a result. All the goals against came from central areas with the first being a turnover when trying to play out under high pressure. The others were strikes from distance that we failed to close down.
"Defending in wide areas has improved and once we got our midfield right at the half we looked much better. Going forward we did not threaten Burlington’s goal enough but Amelia did pull one back on a good soloist goal to give us the lift we needed. Winning the second-half was a worthy objective but unfortunately we weren’t able to climb out of the hole we dug for ourselves."
BOUNCING BACK: 05s GIRLS HIT THE SUMMIT
TABLE-TOPPERS...Kayla Briggs scored twice and Lauren Root notched again
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...5 VAUGHAN...1
NITROS roared to the top of the league with a destruction of big rivals Vaughan that saw Kayla Briggs grab a double.
Victoria Godinho, Lauren Root and Sofia Adams were also on target as the girls stayed on a terrific run of form that has seen them bounce back superbly from an opening day defeat at Tecumseh.
The highly promising 05s group are now in their stride and this was another excellent win against tough opposition as their free-flowing style takes a toll on their opponents in the division.
FREE-SCORING 03s HIT DOUBLE FIGURES
NET GAINS...for Maddy Penman-Derstine (2) and team-mate Montana Wilcox
BURLINGTON...0 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...10
A one-sided romp at City View Park showed Nitros what half of the table they MUST finish in this season to develop the team further.
Devon Eisen scored FOUR, there were doubles from Jillian Therrien and Maddy Penman-Derstine with Chiara English and Montana Wilcox also on target.
Coach Marc Maunder chose to see the bigger picture after the match and reflected: "This game proved that we do not want to be in the bottom half of the table come the midway break, The girls have now scored 17 goals in their last two games and that is not what this team needs at this stage of their development.
"We were 4-0 up at half-time and it could have been much more, we did not capitalise on their high line with far too many offsides because we were over-eager.
"We challenged the girls at half-time to score the first goal after half because the week before we were 5-0 up at the break at Richmond Hill and we only woke up after we let the opponent score.
"This time, though, the girls responded and scored three more in an eight minute burst before wrapping it up with three more."
DEFEAT BUT NITROS BRIGHTEN
BETTER SHOWING...from the likes of Amelia Salewicz and Hanna Miller
HAMILTON UNITED ELITE...3 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...0
NITROS showed signs of improvement and growth despite a defeat on the road in a tough test at Hamilton.
After a disappointing second-half slump against Markham the week before scratch the surface and this was a far better performance.
Head Coach Ian Skitch reflected: "The girls competed well early against a robust and direct opponent showing some team spirit and playing some good football which produced some quality looks at goal for Amelia Salewicz and Rufina Abdurusul.
"Hamilton used their physical and aerial advantage to attack the flanks where we failed to deal with high balls and crosses effectively. These types of balls continue to vex the girls so we must go back at it and improve this part of our game.
"Otherwise, there were good signs of growth in this game and we have a good opportunity to build upon it and close the gap for the home leg against this opponent."
DIEGO SUCKER-PUNCHES DOMINANT NITROS
INFLUENTIAL...Justin Santos scored and Juan Pablo Delgadillo shone in midfield
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1 MARKHAM...2
NITROS missed a string of chances to put this game away after a brilliant strike on his weaker right foot from injury comeback midfielder Justin Santos.
And Marko Milanovic's boys were left to rue their wastefulness as a stunning free-kick double from the outstanding Diego Accardo late on sucker-punched them for all three points.
Coach Mark sighed afterwards: "The performance that the boys put in definitely did not deserve a losing result.
"The fact is that lack of quality and concentration in the final third did not allow us to separate ourselves from Markham. Two setpiece goals near the end cost us the game and make our upcoming Kingston weekend extremely important."
04s SINK UNDER THE BRIDGE
SICKENER...Justin Jamal (left) broke his wrist with Nic Caramico already banned
WOODBRIDGE...6 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...0
NITROS meekly surrendered all three points in an abject display that was worsened by the news that skipper Justin Jamal faces two months out after breaking his wrist in an awkward fall at Vaughan Grove.
Head Coach Iain King's team, who already had Jamal's defensive partner Nic Caramico suspended, had their worst day of what has been a promising season to date and he sighed: “Sure, JJ broke his wrist and his two months out is a big blow for him and us as a whole but we were second best all over the field even before the injury.
“We shaped up as we had in the Cup win over Woodbridge but could not match anywhere near the level of intensity or organisation we found that night.
“As a group it was our toughest game yet against an opponent who killed us on transition because our quality of passing and desire to repress the ball when we lost it was simply not good enough.
“It’s a backward step in what has been a very positive season on the whole so it’s all about how we react to that now.”
05s BOYS MAKE IT SIX IN A ROWE
FLYING START...Liam Rowe (2) and Abdullah Noor kept the 05s ball rolling
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...3 TECUMSEH...1
LIAM ROWE grabbed a double and Abdullah Noor was also on target as the 05s boys made it six wins on the spin in an impressive start to the season.
It was a sticky start to the match from the Central Division League leaders who toiled a little until a superb run and cross from Ben Dunn set up Rowe for a killer header to put them in front.
Tecumseh were still stubborn and competitive in the match and levelled it up before good work from Andrew Araujo helped set up Abdullah Noor to drill home from the edge of the box.
Rowe then completed the win with his fifth goal of the season and Head Coach Marko Milanovic confessed: "The boys found a way to get the three points after an inefficient first-half. A lot of chances were wasted before Liam opened up the scoring with a nice goal from a neat build-up play. The team will look to continue a great start to the season against their local rivals SC Toronto on Sunday."
THE GATES OF SEVEN!
RICHMOND THRILL...Devon Eisen (left) scored twice and Alya Ruken notched
RICHMOND HILL...1 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...7
THREE goals in an electric opening 11 minutes gave the 03s Girls the platform for a commanding win in the Richmond Hill sunshine on Saturday morning.
Devon Eisen nabbed two and Jillian Therrien, Chiara English, Ella Baldwin, Alya Ruken and Montana Wilson were also on target.
The result leaves the U17s tucked in handily in third a point off the top of the table with their only defeat so far this season coming to a very strong Ottawa South United side.
Head Coach Marc Maunder reflected "The way we started the match meant we could go on to really enjoy ourselves and move the ball so nicely.
"When we did that we found our wing-backs Nia Wilson and Maddy Penman-Derstine who had lots of success 1 v 1 against their full-backs which was really pleasing.
"Quintin Tostevin was a standout in possession and fired some great diagonal passes out to the wide players. Both wing-backs were a constant threat on the day and were very unlucky not to get on the scoresheet."
CEINWYN SHINES BUT 04s OFF MARK
TOUGH TO TAKE...for Ceinwyn Beattie and Rufina Abdurusul on Sunday
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...0 MARKHAM...4
CEINWYN BEATTIE shone in defence for Nitros but a second-half slump from the team saw them frozen out at Iceland.
For the second time this season Markham striker Emma Kos haunted the 04 Girls with as she bagged her second hat-trick against them, also grabbing three in a 4-3 win for the yellow and black at the start of the campaign.
Head Coach Ian Skitch was happy enough with the team's first-half display but called for more resilience when the girls face setbacks.
He reasoned: "It was a competitive first-half with Ceinwyn Beattie showing some leadership at the back and also displaying some really good distribution for us.
"I felt we were a bit unlucky to go into the break one behind with Markham scoring on the last kick of the period. We'd had some good looks at goal with Rufina Abdurusul combining with Amelia Salewicz for some clever touches but we could not find the target.
"Despite lots of changes to freshen the side up, the second-half was surprisingly flat. An early goal brought our heads down. We must find our way to consistency and find our fighting spirit when behind. Communication is key for us."
KAYLA STRIKES, NITROS GO TOP
KEYS TO VICTORY...keeper Brooke Thompson and scorer Kayla Briggs
BRAMPTON...0 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1
KAYLA BRIGGS' instinctive finish off a keeper's dropped ball was the slimmest of margins as Nitros marched to the top of their division with a tight win against an extremely athletic and gifted Brampton side.
There was a host of talent on show for watching scouts at the central venue of Ontario Soccer Centre indoor and this was a stern test for Head Coach Marc Maunder's side.
He reflected afterwards: "The game could have been a 5-4 win for either team, yet somehow it ended 1-0! These Brampton girls were fast and worked so hard to continually put the NT girls under pressure, they had two very talented players in midfield who caused us problems all day so to come away with a clean sheet and three points is very pleasing.
"Juliana Otano also hit the post and Sofia Adams and Lauren Root also had chances as did Charlotte Gray but against that our keeper Brooke Thompson pulled off two top saves down to her right and they hit the crossbar from a free- kick for the ball hitting the roof when it should have been a drop ball.
"It was not until the latter stages of the game that we took more control and started to move Brampton around a little more and this is when we created more of our better chances."
LOWELL HAS WRIGHT STUFF TO EDGE NITROS
ON TARGET...Anthony Aromatario and Pablo Hempelmann notched this week
NORTH TORONTO NITROS..2 WOODBRIDGE...3
DEADLY Woodbridge striker Lowell Wright grabbed a stunning hat-trick as Ntros were edged out in a five-goal thriller at Downsvoew.
Anthony Aromatario and Pablo Hempelmann countered for our reigning champs but it was not enough as Head Coach Marko Milanovic challenged his defenders to react better to the threat Wright poses next time around.
Marko said: "It was a tough match against a good Woodbridge team. Lowell Wright was the difference as he scored a hat trick and created a lot of issues for our back line.
"We will see Woodbridge in the OPDL Cup and probably again during the season. Our defensive organisation will have to be better to contain one of the best strikers in the league. We look forward to the challenge."
BILAL CAN'T MISS AGAINST NORTH MISS
QUALITY GOALS...from Bilal Abou-Reslan (2) and the tireless Ryan Campbell
NORTH MISSISSAUGA...0 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...3
BILAL ABOU-RESLAN struck twice and Ryan Campbell sealed it as the 04s Boys plucked three goals from the top drawer indoor at Ontario Soccer Centre.
A 3-2 loss to the same rivals earlier this season was tough to swallow for Head Coach Iain King's side as they only had themselves to blame for getting drawn into an ugly squabble of a match that saw defender Nic Caramico sent off and cost him a two-game suspension.
With that in mind the players were warned that anyone not concentrating on playing the game would be subbed off immediately and that worked well as Nitros instead focused on playing their passing brand of football.
Abou-Reslan blazed a scorcher into the top corner to give them the lead before Campbell matched that with a stunning second-half finish and Bilal wrapped it up with another laser shot from distance.
Coach Iain pointed out: “This was a return of the game where we lost our discipline and the match through getting involved in petty feuds on the field.
“The players were warned that if I saw one sign of a repeat they would be subbed off immediately, no matter who it was and that worked.
“We scored three top quality goals and have now had four clean sheets out of five games in OPDL competitions which is satisfying and testimony to the defence.
"It was particularly pleasing to see the form of Jayden Mendoza at centre-half after an ankle injury and Andres Barrios also deserves special mention as he adapted superbly in midfield to some new tactical demands we placed on him.”
FIVE ALIVE FOR TABLE TOPPERS
KEY MEN...Tommie MacLeod and Isaac Rubinstein on form in Guelph
TECUMSEH...0 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...5
NITROS continue to impress on their debut in the competitive standings of OPDL and stayed top of the Central Division with their fifth win on the spin in Guelph.
New signing Adam Kaminsky struck twice with Josh Annibale's fourth of the sesson and goals from Tommie MacLeod and Liam Rowe sealing a comfortable three points.
Head Coach Marko Milanovic was delighted with a successful road trip and he stressed: "This was another good performance to continue an impressive start to the season. We got the first goal early in the game which is always important for us.
"The boys could then relax a bit more and settle into our possession based style. Tommie, Jovan Nairne and Isaac Rubinstein had solid games at the back as they have a Provincial player in their strikeforce and we reacted well to that."
DONDON A FOUR-CE TO RECKON WITH
FIVE ALIVE...De'kwon Barrow notched four and Pablo Hempelmann pitched in
UNIONVILLE...1 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...5
DEADLY De'kwon Barrow rattled in FOUR goals in 25 thrilling first-half minutes to put his side in total command of a repeat of last season's Charity Shield Final.
The big striker was in superb form and put the game to bed early with Pablo Hempelmann also on target in a terrific performance from the reigning champions.
Head Coach Marko Milanovic said: "It was a great team win with exceptional finishing from De'kwon Barrow, it was one of the best finishing performances I’ve ever seen at the youth level.
"Dondon scored those four quick goals and the game was decided. Unionville are a quality side who always play the right way and that’s what makes the score even more pleasing."
EVAN AT THE DOUBLE AS 04 BOYS SHINE
SUCCESS ON THE ROAD...for Evan Jardim and keeper Ronan Woodroffe
HAMILTON UNITED ELITE...0 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...3
ON-FORM Nitros built on their Umbro Super Cup top bracket win with a commanding display to take all three points at Heritage Green.
An Evan Jardim double and Aidan Hugo's thrilling 25-yard free-kick clincher - his third goal in three games since his move from Toronto FC - clinched an important success after the OPDL setback of a poor display against North Mississauga earlier in the month.
Keeper Ronan Woodroffe racked up another clean sheet as his defence performed solidly against a quality home attack and Head Coach Iain King said: “This was a well-coached rival with a big threat up top and Provincial quality players so it was an excellent performance.
“The signing of Aidan Hugo from Toronto FC has added undoubted class to us and his clincher from a 25-yard free-kick was brilliantly executed.
“It was really pleasing to score the first from a rapid defensive transition to attack as that is what we worked on in practice all week. We hunted the turnover, Aidan swept a superb crossfield ball to the opposite wide player Ryan Campbell who had burst a gut to get there and when his shot was parried Evan followed up to score. That was very rewarding to see as a coach.
“Evan is a natural finisher and has to be happy with a goal a game in OPDL matches so far. We passed it well but still need to work on our building from the back with more precision and better positioning if we are skipping the lines.”
THAT ONE WAS FOR YOU JAMIE
DRIVING FORCES...goalscorer Josh Annibale (left) and Tommie MacLeod
UNIONVILLE...1 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2
HEAD COACH Marko Milanovic praised the heart and desire of his OPDL competitive standings rookies as they racked up their third win on the spin to stay in contention at the top of the table.
This Nitros squad is still coming to terms with the loss of influential midfielder Jamie Benayon-Abraham to a leg break suffered against Richmond Hill in the Umbor Super Cup but they dug deep again on the road and remain unbeaten this season.
One down after the first-half they bravely battled back, driven on by the inspirational Tommie MacLeod, and won it with goals from Josh Annibale and Adam Kaminsky.
Coach Marko said: "The boys showed character coming back from 0-1 down in the first half. The intensity and energy was at a great level.
"A lot of work needs to be done in zones 3 and 4 of the field when it comes to the final pass and converting opportunities.but we are looking forward toward to our next challenge."
05 GIRLS RALLY TO CLIMB THE HILL
STRUCK IT RICH...Mis Mangalji (left) and Charlotte Gray were on target
RICHMOND HILL...0 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...3
NITROS steadied themselves after a flat start to rack up another win on the road with goals from the free-scoring Lauren Root, defender Mia Mangalji and striker Charlotte Gray.
Head Coach Marc Maunder wasn't happy with the lack of snap to his side's first-half play and he confessed afterwards: "It was a poor first 20 minutes with us giving the ball away under no pressure and we also let Richmond Hill come out far too easily.
"In the second period we improved a little by changing to a 1-4-2-3-1 formation and we started to secure possession as well as intercepting a lot more forward passes centrally.
"Lauren's striking instincts got us the first on a 1 v1 and then it was great to see a pre-worked corner routine pay-off with Mia getting in on a headed rebound after our skipper Sophia Cockett had a shot blocked.
"In the second-half we controlled the play in our build-up through work on the training field which was really pleasing. The icing on the cake was the third goal with Charlotte finishing brilliantly into the roof of the net from a cutback."
GODINHO COMEBACK A BIG BOOST FOR 05s
STANDING OUT...that's Hannah Minsky (left) and 05s skipper Sophia Cockett
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...5 BURLINGTON...0
NITROS' battle back from an opening day defeat at Tecumseh continued in style with a five-goal Thursday night stroll against Burlington at Downsview Park.
And it was a welcome return after six months out for Victoria Godinho who scored twice as did the predatory Lauren Root with Tejia Murray-Powell completing an enjoyable evening for Head Coach Marc Maunder's side.
Root's goals have now taken her into the Top 10 in the race to be top scorer in this division and Nitros are back in contention for top spot in their title shootout.
And coach Marc reflected: "It was a very pleasing night's work as we were without a number of players. We moved the ball well, switched the play then found players in good positions and attacked with speed.
"We created lots of chances and scored two goals from cutbacks which was hugely pleasing and it was terrific to see Victoria score twice as she has not played since November last year after injury.
"We had a number of stand-out players in this one. Hannah Minsky gave constant support from left back, Courtney Poon secured possession for us over and over again and started so many attacks from midfield. Our captain Sophia Cockett was also once again so good in possession, assisting TJ's goal with a left foot reverse and looking so comfortable to step into midfield from centre-back to build attacks."
04 GIRLS GET OFF THE MARK
MORALE BOOSTERS...Amelia Salewicz (2) and Maddie Wong netted goals
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...5 NORTH MISSISSAUGA...2
AMELIA SALEWICZ and Kayla Briggs both grabbed doubles and Maddie Wong hit the scoresheet as the 04s Girls picked up their first OPDL win of the new season at Downsview.
After a tough start to the campaign this was an excellent performance from Head Coach Ian Skitch's side and a game that showed the potential Kayla, playing up from our 05s Girls squad, possesses moving forward.
Coach Ian said: "We moved Amelia into a striking role and she responded very well to the challenge, we still lost goals that I felt were preventable but to get five on the board was very satisfying.
"Now the girls must build on this performance in their next outing."
STRONG OSU EDGE 03 GIRLS
SCORING AND SPARKLING...that's Montana Wilcox (left) and Jess Collantes
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1 OTTAWA SOUTH UNITED...2
OUR 03 Girls recovered from a horror start against OSU at Ontario Soccer Centre but leaked a late goal to fall to a narrow defeat.
Nitros slid behind within three minutes of the first whistle when a high mishit cross looped over keeper Sierra Cote-Yarde and fell in at the back post.
Marc Maunder's side were rocked by that unexpected opener and he confessed: "OSU controlled the game for the next 20 minutes, we were really poor with second pass completion in transition with the midfield not playing quickly enough.
"Yet we ended the second-half the stronger with Jess Collantes starting to take over in midfield and we pushed OSU back and could have equalised.
"In the second-half we did pull level with a goal from Montana Wilcox off a corner and it was an even game. Then out of nowhere we lost possession in the corner, they played forward with the striker nipping in front of Qunitin Tostevin to run through 1 v 1 and score.
"After that, in all honesty, we looked physically done and Sierra pulled off two great saves to keep the score at 2-1."
THE UPS AND DOWNS OF THE UMBRO SUPER CUP
TOP OF THE TABLE...the 04s boys squad were undefeated in three games over the weekend and are now in Canada's top 10
WHEN the dust settled on a hectic weekend in the Umbro Showcase and Super Cup eight Nitros teams from our 06s Girls and boys rookies to our experienced 03s male and female players had come through a terrific tournament with some great soccer experiences.
In the Super Cup the top performance came from Marc Maunder's 05s Girls who made it to the final of the U14 Girls Super Pro bracket but were edged out 2-1 by Markham. The consolation for the girls, though, is that their sustained high level performances in these sort of competitions now sees them ranked no1 in Canada by GotSoccer.
Coach Marc said: "We knew before the weekend that we would face tough teams like Caledon in our bracket so we were delighted to emerge from that to contest the Final. Losing was sore for the girls but they have proven now time and again that they are amongst the best in the province and the no1 ranking is a nice reward."
The 03s boys dominance in their age group continued with three wins on the spin over the weekend which pleased coach Marko Milanovic as they bounced back from dropping two points in the OPDL in a 1-1 tie at Ottawa South United.
For the 04s boys, who have six new signings this season, the goals are to unlock their undoubted potential and tight wins over OPDL rivals Richmond Hill and Vaughan secured a bracket triumph that pushes them into the Top 10 in Canada.
Head Coach Iain King said: "We are still very much a work in progress so rewards like this early in the season are great for the boys. With each positive performance - and there have been a lot of those in the early weeks - there comes learning games like our 2-2 closing match against Kitchener when we squandered so many chance to put the game away and lost a late equaliser.
"We need to learn to be more clinical in front of goal and to work harder off the ball still but it feels like the boys are buying in to how we can improve together which is really positive for the group."
* LOOK out for a detailed breakdown on how our eight sides fared in the Umbro later this week with a team by team report and the coaches' verdicts on their side's displays.
AN OFF DAY IN OTTAWA
MAKING A POINT...scorer Noah Pereira
OTTAWA SOUTH UNITED...1 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1
CHAMPIONS Nitros returned from the nation's capital with a feeling of frustration after taking just a point from a tough encounter with OSU that saw eight players booked.
Noah Pereira's strike was cancelled out by Mathom Quapp as Nitros lost some early ground on leaders Oakville and United FA.
And coach Marko Milanovic admitted: "This was a frustrating game against a hard-working, organised and very defensive-minded opponent. We just didn’t make the right choices offensively and frankly did not deserve a better outcome. We have lots of things to work on and the Umbro Showcase will be a good opportunity to try out a few new things."
04s BRIDGE GAP AFTER PRE-SEASON PAIN
UP FOR THE CUP...two-goal Evan Jardim (left) and the tireless Liam Batista-Funk
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2 WOODBRIDGE...0
PRE-SEASON embarrassment turned into OPDL Cup joy for the Nitros as they deservedly marched into the next round with a superbly disciplined performance against highly-rated Woodbridge at Downsview Park on Thursday night.
A focused week of work on the training field ahead of the match paid off as two goals from outstanding striker Evan Jardim paved the route through for head coach Iain King's side.
Nitros' organised pressing - led by the likes of tireless midfielder Liam Batista-Funk - forced key errors from the Woodbridge goalkeeper that the predatory Jardim pounced on to build a first-half lead they never looked like relinquishing.
And coach Iain said: “We lost 6-2 at Woodbridge at pre-season and although we were missing some key players the boys were bitterly disappointed by their performance that day.
“The challenge then was to show they could match - and overcome - the no3 ranked team in Canada and I was proud of how the team accomplished that.
“We owe a debt of thanks to the other OPDL Hub coaches who tailored their training plans to allow us the field space we needed to prepare on the two nights before the game.
“The boys executed the plan extremely well in and out of possession and now they have to use those levels of intensity and discipline as their benchmark for the season.”
10-MAN NITROS NEED TO LEARN THEIR LESSONS
BRIGHT SPOTS...Noah Durao and Dino Custovic grabbed the goals
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2 NORTH MISSISSAUGA...3
TEN-MAN Nitros missed the chance to crown a perfect start to the season as they fell to defeat after central defender Nic Caramico's red card early in the second-half.
In the wake of an excellent display knocking Woodbridge out of the OPDL Cup the 04s boys squandered the chance to make it three wins on the spin by getting sucked into an ugly squabble of a match at Downsview on Sunday morning.
Twice behind, Nitros had fought back with goals from Noah Durao - his first for the club since moving from Toronto FC Academy - and then Dino Custovic who tied up the game with a penalty on the stroke of the interval.
At the break the team were warned to stay out of brewing off the ball confrontations that were going unchecked and concentrate on their brand of passing soccer but instead they bit on almost every one in a fractious second period that began with defender Nic rightly red-carded for a badly misjudged tackle in a wide area when there was no direct threat.
Head coach Iain King sighed: “This was three points thrown away through our own indiscipline after we went down to 10 men when Nic - who has had a terrific start to the season - was rightly sent off for an ill-advised tackle in the first minute of the second-half.
“We forgot what we are good at after coming out of a rocky first-half tied at 2-2 and still in good shape.
“The boys need to learn to concentrate on playing our brand of passing soccer and forget about getting drawn into petty feuds with opponents.
“They were warned at half-time by both myself and our goalkeeping coach Shawn Sawyer, a former international no1, not to get involved in situations that were developing with their players but they ignored that advice and paid the price. I hope they learn a lesson from this.”
TWO IN A ROWE FOR 05s BOYS
MATCH-WINNER...that's Liam Rowe
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1 VAUGHAN...0
LIAM ROWE struck again for the hard-working 05s Boys as coach Marko Milanovic's side made it two OPDL wins on the spin at Downsview.
Coach Marko's side marched to the top of the table ahead of Week Three in the Umbro Super Cup and he was full of praise for the boys afterwards telling ntsoccer.com: "This was a very good performance against one of the better teams in the age group.
"The boys’ intensity and fight made the difference. I am very satisfied with the way we were able to dominate possession. The key moving forward will be to have these types of performances on a more consistent level. "
QUICKFIRE 03s MARCH THROUGH IN OPDL CUP
TREBLE SHOOTERS...Jillian Therrien, Nia Wilson and Madeleine Penman-Derstine were all on target in the Cup
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...3 WOODBRIDGE...1
THE 03 Girls exploded out of the blocks to comfortably secure a passage into the next round with first-half goals from Jillian Therrien, Madeleine Penman-Derstine and Nia Wilson.
Coach Marc Maunder was satisfied with that terrific first period but set his side other targets after the match as the season begins to kick into top gear.
He said: "We were very strong in the first-half scoring three goals, hitting the crossbar and missing three or four other really good chances as well as not attacking some great crosses aggressively enough.
"The down side was Woodbridge scoring from a transition which was really disappointing given that our Tuesday game prep was all about defensive organisation especially when we lose the ball.
"Yet there was a lot to be happy about in the first-half as the front three all scored and the full-backs got forward so well to support
"It was an uneventful second-half apart from Woodbridge hitting the bar and having one cleared off the line by Quintin Tostevin, we had the majority of possession and should have seen the game out better than we did."
MAKING IT COUNT ON THE COUNTER
GOALMAKER AND GOALTAKER...Chiara English and Devon Eisen
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2 WOODBRIDGE...0
NITROS tackled Woodbridge for the second time in a week after knocking one of their big rivals out of the OPDL Cup and repeated the trick with a League victory.
Coach Marc Maunder looked to throw a different formation and pose new tactical problems for his opponents from the start of this one but he confessed: "It was a poor first 35 mins and I take full responsibility for that, we had played the same team two days before in the Cup so I tried to show Woodbridge something different.
"We went back to our normal shape and finished the first-half stronger with Nia Wilson finding Montana Wilcox with a cutback but the effort went wide.
"In the second-half we got stronger and stronger and we scored a very good goal off a counter from a Woodbridge corner, Chiara English picked up the ball off an Alya Ruken headed clearance and ran 50 yards before finding Jillian Therrien who cut back inside the full-back onto her left foot and bent the ball into the far corner. It was a terrific finish.
"After missing big chances and seeing another Alya header come back off the crossbar we found a second through Devon Eisen who picked up the pieces after Madeleine Penman-Derstine was taken down by the goalkeeper on a 1 v 1.
"Overall, this was another pleasing win."
LATE SICKENER MEANS CUP EXIT
SPOT ON...top scorer Rufina Abdurusul
UNIONVILLE...2 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1
BRAVE Nitros were edged out of the Cup away at Unionville despite an encouraging display against a strong home side who had troubled them last season.
Provincial player Rufina Abdurusul scored her fourth of the season already from the spot to tie the game up but Nitros lost a heartbreaking late goal to head for the exit door in this tournament.
Head Coach Ian Skitch reflected: "This was a solid team performance with some fight and bottle in it. We came back from a goal down to go level deservedly midway through the second-half on a Rufina penalty.
"Sadly, though, we lost our concentration at a late corner failing to track runners to concede the winner. We continued to press for an equaliser but it wasn't to be. The girls showed real progress since last meeting this opponent but cannot rest on this performance."
04 GIRLS MUST BATTLE BACK FROM DAY OF HURT
BATTLER...Hana Miller stuck with it
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...0 WOODBRIDGE...9
NITROS' 04 Girls suffered through an afternoon of pain against Canada's top 04 side that left Head Coach Ian Skitch asking his team to use this as a hurtful but helpful learning experience in the game.
The girls toiled from the outset and were left to reflect on a scoreline that they must look to battle back from.
Coach Ian said: "We spent the entire match on the back foot and trying to compete against an exceptional opponent - credit to Woodbridge as they have set the bar high. Nothing worked.
"We played a high block and press in the first-half, then dropped to defend deeper and contain in the second. We just never came into the game and it was a painful experience for all.
"There were many learnings, though. We must and can be more proactive defensively and improve our ability to deal with the long high ball. We must and can improve possession mentality and technical speed when under pressure.
"We must and can run more in transition. We can and must develop resilience. I have to make an honourable mention to Hana Miller who played well despite the outcome and tried to play throughout the entirety of the game no matter the outcome."
05s GIRLS BACK TO WINNING WAYS
BOUNCING BACK...that's Tejia Murray-Powell and influential Sarah Flood
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2 SC TORONTO...0
NITROS bounced back from an opening day defeat to Tecumseh to clinch their first league win of the season with goals from Lauren Root and Tejia Murray-Powell making the difference at Downsview.
In howling wind and driving rain at times this was a very testing day and in the end Head Coach Marc Maunder was just delighted to come out of the game with all three points.
He said: "The terrible conditions made this game so difficult, Lauren scored within two minutes which made it very difficult for SC to come back even though they gave us a scare with an exciting goalmouth scramble in the opening quarter.
"TJ then scored a free-kick in the second period and that was the end of the scoring although Sarah Flood missed a great chance for us in the third period, SC were better in this 20 than us as we let them switch the ball on us too
easily but they did not really create a good goalscoring chance.
"I was really pleased to come out of the game with three points and a clean sheet, the girls were excellent."
05s GET THEIR FIRST W AT WATERLOO
ON TARGET...Danny Iwamoto (left) and Liam Rowe sealed the points
WATERLOO...0 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...2
DANNY IWAMOTO and Liam Rowe got the 05 Boys off to a flyer in their first ever scores and standings Ontario Player Development League match at Western University.
After adjusting to the challenges of soccer at this level in their inaugural campaign when no points are awarded this one counted for Marko Milanovic's side and the boys responded well with an opening day victory.
Coach Marko has worked hard with this squad at our winter training base at Toronto Soccerplex and week by week they have gelled together and they earned a big reward in Week One.
The victory left Marko pleased although he knows there are tougher games on the horizon now and he said: "It was a good defensive effort from us and also positionally in attack we looked good.
"I felt at the sharp end we had problems with some relatively routine situations in front of the opposing net. The team will look to get better on a weekly basis and we have a tough match coming up against Vaughan."
BILAL'S BLAST SEALS OPENING DAY VICTORY
OFF AND RUNNING...Abou-Reslan (left) grabbed the winner as his
team-mate Justin Jamal hit the comeback trail after injury pre-season
UNIONVILLE...0 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1
NITROS dominated this opening day encounter and the fact they left Ontario Soccer Centre a little frustrated at the margin of victory should not overshadow what was overall an encouraging performance.
On-form midfielder Bilal Abou-Reslan grabbed the all-important winner in the 36th minute when a driving run at the heart of the Unionville defence saw him escape two challenges before he smacked a shot low past the keeper from 18 yards.
For new head coach Iain King it was a relief to see the boys get the reward they deserved on Day One and he stressed: "It was a good, solid and dominant opening display, the shot count was 23-8 in our favour and it was our finishing that let us down.
"Bilal, though, deserved his goal for a driving display in midfield. We were all a little frustrated not to add to that opener but on reflection our pass completion was 80% and the team moved the ball well. It was great to see our central defender Justin Jamal get a full hour under his belt as we have had an injury-troubled pre-season in that area of the team."
PABLO'S TWO GOOD FOR 03s CHAMPS
DOUBLE TROUBLE...Pablo Hampelmann (left) grabs two, Tadija Vukas sparkles
NORTH TORONTO NITROS...4 WHITBY...1
PABLO HEMPELMANN'S double helped sparked a comfortable opening day success for the OPDL champions but coach Marko Milanovic believes his team need to be much sharper next time out.
De'kwon Barrow and Dennis Escobar notched the others as this trophy-gathering squad took the first steps into a new campaign.
The demands put upon them will be as high as ever and coach Marko said: "I felt it was an average performance to start the season. Pablo took the goals well and we had strong displays in the midfield from Tadija Vukas and Juan Pablo Delgadillo, especially defensively. I feel, though, that we need to get much sharper before the next game in Ottawa against Ottawa South United."
DEFEAT RUF ON THREE-GOAL RUFINA
ON THE MARK...Rufina Abdurusul (left) grabbed a hat-trick and team-mate
Nathalie Finley-Horne shone in a dramatic opener for the 04s Girls on Sunday
MARKHAM...4 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...3
PROVINCIAL prospect Rufina Abdurusul crashed home an opening day hat-trick but the 04s Girls still suffered a gut-wrenching last-gasp defeat in a seven-goal thriller at Whitby Soccer Centre on Sunday.
Team Ontario player Rufina looked to have put her side in a commanding 3-1 lead as Head Coach Ian Skitch's side stormed back from the loss of an early goal to be two in front early in the second period.
Markham, though, refused to give up and had their own hat-trick star in Emma Kos with Paige Chiusolo chipping in to help edge it in a dramatic finish.
It was an eventful first game for new head coach Ian who told the OPDL Round-up: "We spent the opening minutes on the back foot and pinned in our own half working out how to play against Markham’s high block.
"Rufina's finishing was natural and calm and it was an excellent hat-trick but we finished the game the same way we started it, under the pressure of a high press, and we struggled to control the game.
"Markham’s energy was rewarded with two late goals with the winner coming with literally the last kick of the game which was tough on the girls."
05s LOSE WAY AFTER TAKING RIGHT ROOT
PLUS POINTS...Lauren Root( left) scored the opening goal and Provincial keeper
Maya Sanchez-Ceccarelli built up well under pressure of Tecumseh's high press
TECUMSEH...2 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1
NITROS fell to a hurtful opening day defeat after Lauren Root's opener at Western Campus in London on Saturday.
The gifted 05 Girls looked to be in their normal groove in the opening quarter but two goals from striker Ava Mills gave fired-up Tecumseh all three points.
For coach Marc Maunder it was a sore start to the season for a group with so much promise and he said: "In the opening 20 minutes I could not have been more happy with the girls, we should have been three goals up and not just one.
"We were meeting our game objectives but then we began to struggle in transition, our defensive play in the second-half was really disappointing and it cost us two goals and the game,
"Even in attack after that first quarter we were really poor by our standards, no sharpness.
"The positives were that our keeper Maya Sanchez-Ceccarelli was great against the high press and played us out so well with great composure.
"Also our midfield of Sarah Flood, Tejia Murray-Powell, Courtney Poon and Avery Clandfield were good but they did not have enough in front of them to help them."
A STORY OF HIGHS AND LOWS AT GATORADE 5s
READY TO BOUNCE BACK...the 03s boys will chase a hat-trick of OPDL titles after their Gatorade 5s setbacks
CLEAN SWEEP Saturday turned into a cruel and sore Sunday for the North Toronto Nitros 03 and 04 Boys at the thrilling Gatorade 5s tournament at Pickering Soccer Centre last weekend.
Head Coach Marko Milanovic - who saw one of his 03 sides represent Canada in the World Finals in Barcelona last year - had three squads in the mix again this time round.
For the 04 boys, guided by Iain King, this was their debut in the Gatorade with one team making their bow ahead of their full squad being involved in 2020.
Saturday could not have gone better for the Nitros family as ALL FOUR teams went 3-0 to win their sections which meant they could avoid each other in the round of 16 the following day.
When it came to the knockout stages, though, it was a tale of missed chances, ill fortune and sore defeats as first the 04s exited at the hands of Whitby before all three 03s sides lost in the last eight.
For the two-time 03s OPDL champs these were difficult defeats to take as the teams lost 2-0 to Woodbridge, 4-1 to North Mississauga and then on a penalty shoot-out to Oakville after a 2-2 draw when NT had been two up until the dying minutes.
And coach Marko confessed: “The boys were extremely disappointed not to win the tournament.
“We felt, going into Sunday, that we had played the best soccer at the event.
“Losing was a heartbreaking experience, even though we still feel we were the best footballing side there.
“Any time we don't win a tournament or a competition that we enter, it always feels like a missed opportunity.
“This group sees winning trophies as a norm and therefore anything below that feels like a huge loss.”
The 03s, though, now have a busy April of exhibitions to look forward to as they build towards OPDL opening weekend on May 4/5.
Coach Milanovic’s side are going for an unprecedented three OPDL titles on the spin.
The prize at stake was to be Canada’s representatives in May when the World Finals take place at the home of Spanish giants Atletico Madrid.
And Marko stressed: “Setbacks are a normal part of soccer and life in general. This group has always been able to bounce back and improve after tough losses.
“Whether we'll be able to do it again, I am not sure, but we're looking forward to the challenge.
“This is one of the most resilient groups of kids that I have ever worked with.”
SHOWING PROMISE...(left to right) Ryan Campbell, Damien Vermande, Liam Trudeau, Dino Custovic, Bilal Abou-Reslan and
Noah Durao racked up three wins on the spin for the 04s Boys in the Gatorade before a painful loss in the last 16
The 04s boys were edged out 1-0 by Whitby when brave keeper Liam Trudeau had to be helped out of the game after a nasty accidental collision left him with neck spasms.
For coach Iain, though, the Gatorade debut was a hugely positive experience for the six players from his new-look squad who took part.
He reasoned: “This is a new squad with a new coach, we learn more about each other every practice and every game and to have four great matches in the space of two days was so beneficial.
“We scored 14 goals for the loss of just four in the section and played some beautiful passing soccer in our three wins.
“Alongside that they have some key lessons to learn about their discipline on the field and the mentality they now have to start to build.
“In the defeat against Whitby they could point to a ref’s bad call or the keeper’s injury but I don’t want them doing that. Those are excuses.
“Hold yourself accountable, take your chances, examine where you could have done better.
“That’s how this group will improve together, overall I was proud of the effort they gave and how they played in their first experience of the Gatorade. We’ll be back next year wiser and stronger.”
TOP PROSPECT PANAITE SEALS HIS DREAM SWITCH TO TFC
CHANGING CRESTS...Adrian's 2019 OPDL Gatorade headshot was to be his last as a Nitros player as he clinched his move
NORTH TORONTO NITROS SOCCER 04 Boys midfielder Adrian Panaite this week signed for Toronto FC’s U14 Academy side in a move that delighted all the coaches who have guided him.
Adrian, born in 2005, was a mainstay playing a year up in the team’s OPDL side and coach Octavian Ghidanac, who led that age group in the 2018 campaign, paid tribute to the ability of a player who returned to his NT roots after a year playing at Richmond Hill SC.
Octavian recalled: “Adrian came back to us in November 2017 and by the end of the first training session with the 04 Boys I had no doubt that he had the ability and potential to not only be part of the roster but to be one of our main protagonists.
“In the following weeks Adrian’s integration was great, he always brought a positive attitude and proved every time in the training period that his presence was valuable to the squad.”
Next month the eight Nitros’ OPDL teams will move outdoors after a long winter and begin a series of exhibition matches that sees them ramp up their preparation for the OPDL challenges ahead.
It was during this process 12 months ago that Octavian saw Adrian make a great leap forward in his development.
He stressed: “Adrian’s performance really stood out in an impressive way. Considering we were against some of the strongest opponents like Hamilton, Woodbridge, Vaughan, and Oakville, Adrian was able to take his game to the next level.
“After all those games I had no doubt that Adrian is a special talent. His calmness and composure are outstanding during the games.
“No matter the situation he always seems to have the right answers to it.
“I’m extremely happy to see him making this huge step into the professional soccer academy.
“Now I hope that his dream - to become a professional soccer player - will turn into a reality."
Andy King, now Head Coach of the 2007 and 2008 Boys at the club, was a part of Adrian’s initial development at North Toronto.
He’ll never forget his first glimpse of a special talent in the Downsview Dome when Adrian was playing against NT for his neighbourhood team Toronto Hawks.
Andy smiled: “He was an opponent in a game against one of our teams in the Dome.
“He leapt above 12 other boys to powerfully head home a corner. I was stood with my colleague Connor Bourne and we just looked at each other and raised our eyebrows. We knew we’d seen a special player.
“Adrian went on to join NTSC where Connor and I had the privilege to be a small part of his journey.
“Now I’m so happy that Adrian has the opportunity to continue his development within the TFC Academy.
“When you work with a player who is so committed that he would do anything to improve and win but is also such a good person and is so coachable, you can be nothing but delighted for the individual.
“The hard work starts now, Adrian - all the very best.”
SOMETHING TO SHOUT ABOUT...Adrian's new coach Terry Dunfield in his playing days in the midfield of Toronto FC
For Adrian’s dad Cristian Wednesday was a proud night as he saw his son take a big step upwards in his soccer career.
In a message to Technical Director Billy Wilson this week Cristian paid tribute to the role played by the NT coaches in his son’s development.
Cristian insisted: “I simply feel that the team of coaches had to be thanked for the huge role they played in Adrian's development from the early beginning to this moment.
“It started with with Andy King, who discovered Adrian in a NT game against a small neighborhood team a long time ago.
“Then it continued with Connor Bourne who led the NT 05 boys team in winning a tournament in the USA.
“His journey at the club finished with the OPDL coaches Octavian Ghidanac and Iain King, all these amazing folks have taught Adrian valuable skills and helped him build his confidence.
“Andy, Connor, Octavian and Iain are true professionals and strong contributors to the success of North Toronto SC.”
Those kind words were welcomed in the coaching room as the work now continues for Head Coach Iain’s 04 Boys in their OPDL build-up without TFC new boy Adrian.
Ironically, Adrian’s first official game for TFC and his new coach, former Canadian international midfielder and now TV analyst Terry Dunfield, is in an exhibition AGAINST his old team at the BMO Training Academy on Sunday afternoon.
For his final Nitros coach Iain that will be a fitting way to say goodbye to a class player and he said: “Since October when I took over it has been a pleasure to work with Adrian with the OPDL 04 boys squad and we thought so much of him that in all honesty the formation was built around him.
“He is a down to earth and respectful kid who simply focuses on becoming the best player he can be and he is a pleasure to work with.
“As soon as the way was paved for him to go to TFC on trial after talks with their coach Terry Dunfield I was wholly confident we wouldn’t see him back.
“It has been a joy to work with him even for a short space of time, the technical foundation he has is a great tribute to Adrian's hard work and my coaching colleagues who moulded him as a player.”
05s GIRLS GREEN MACHINE KEEPS ROLLIN' IN THE STATES
LOOK AND LEARN...Head Coach Marc Maunder hits the tactics board with his team at half-time in the clinching game
NORTH TORONTO NITROS 05 girls OPDL squad travelled to Massachusetts at the weekend and emerged as winners of the Global Premier Soccer March Madness top bracket.
Coach Marc Maunder’s side got off to an excellent start on Saturday morning with a 2-0 triumph over GPS MA Elite Red with Sophia Cockett converting an early penalty before Lauren Root’s predatory strike from the edge of the box sealed the win.
That set up Game Two against the highly-ranked GPS franchise’s White team on Saturday night and Nitros controlled the match to claim a 2-1 win despite Cockett missing from the spot this time.
The skipper quickly atoned for that setback with a spectacular 30-yarder to put her side in front before Sarah Flood clinched it with a terrific drive from the edge of the box.
That second win inside the Union Point Dome set up a decider against the excellent FC Coastal USA outdoors at the picturesque Legion Field in Weymouth for Game Three on Sunday morning.
And it was to be a dramatic finale to another successful trip Stateside for the U14 side.
Provincial team candidate Kayla Briggs topped off a clever solo run with an unerring finish to open the scoring but Coastal scored from distance with just seven minutes remaining to set up a nailbiting end to the tournament.
When the question was asked this gifted Nitros side had the answer.
New signing Juliana Otano crafted a slick give and go with Flood on the edge of the box and saw the chance open up for her to stride into the box and bury the winner low into the corner.
A dream end to Juliana’s first travel trip with the team and Head Coach Marc said: “This was the perfect return to the USA for us after the disappointment of our loss in the Final of the Bethesda tournament four months ago.
“I honestly feel the competition we faced here was better than the teams we have faced recently in the USA so to win all three games, without two Team Ontario prospects who could not travel, was so pleasing.
“We never once went away from what makes the girls such a fun side to watch, again so pleasing, sometimes tournament football can make you play a more direct style of soccer because of the fear of losing.
“This, though, was a great early showing of how the girls will deal with scores and standings for the first time this year in the OPDL.”
BIG STEP FORWARD FOR THE 06 GIRLS IN USA
RED-DY TO ROCK...the 06 girls in Massachusetts in their slick new uniforms backed by big-hearted sponsors RCC Group
NORTH TORONTO NITROS 06 OPDL girls squad relished another top bracket adventure in the USA at the weekend and chalked up their first travel tournament game win in the Global Premier Soccer March Madness in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Game One on Saturday morning saw the fledgling Provincial League side edged 3-2 in a five goal thriller by the highly-rated GPS Elite MA.
New signing Malena Patera rifled home a goal to haul Nitros back into the game after they’d gone two down following a very bright start to the match.
Even when GPS notched again Izzy Friedman’s brilliant top corner finish brought a point within touching distance but the clock was the enemy for Iain King’s team.
Game Two was, in truth, a disappointment as the girls failed to handle the physical demands of playing two top bracket tournaments games in one day.
They had soared in front in the fourth minute against New England FC when Zoe Haldenby tricked away from her midfield markers to threat a superb ball through to Morgan Zietlow who sped through to smash into the far corner.
What followed, though, was a cheap equaliser, a tired, low-key display and a tale of missed chances that led to a sore 3-1 defeat in the Union Point Dome.
The move outside on Sunday morning seemed to energise this season’s OPDL rookies, though, as they arrived at the beautiful Legion Field in Weymouth for Game Three.
Nitros were playing the excellent FC Stars and again grabbed an early lead as a slick build-up saw Emma Inciarte find space 20 yards out to rip a shot into the top corner despite a touch from the despairing keeper.
FC Stars, who play in America’s Elite Club National League (ECNL), were a gifted rival and they had bouts of pressure throughout as they chased an equaliser.
When they broke through Nitros’ gutsy defence, however, the American side found outstanding keeper Alana Carras in truly inspired form and she held firm for a superb shut-out.
Head Coach Iain told ntsoccer.com: “After playing another tournament at this level back in November in Maryland this was only the team’s second experience of this type of soccer.
“Playing twice in the top bracket against leading ECNL and Academy teams has been a steep learning curve for us as a rookie OPDL team but I would not have had it any other way. It has been such a worthwhile education for the players.
“Right now it is about the performance more than the results and in two of the three games it was of the right level. Although they had to fight so hard to defend their lead against FC Stars I was really proud of their determination and teamwork to get that first win. They learned to play on the counter-attack within a game situation.
“Being with our dedicated 05s girls on the trip was vital. The team watch how they work and are learning fast. I don't like singling out players but alongside the continuing development in our established girls it was terrific to see a new player like our striker Malena Patera have a breakout tournament and play so well.
“Our goalkeeping coaching staff under Justine Bernier also deserve huge credit for the performances of Alana who has already also played in the States with our 05s girls.
“She is relishing tournaments like this and getting stronger with every game.”
SPOT-ON SHOULY IS THE SHOOTOUT HERO
FAITH, HOPE AND CHARITY...Nitros kept believing in the shoot-out and secured another trophy triumph on Sunday
BOYS UNDER-15 CHARITY SHIELD FINAL 2018
UNIONVILLE 1...NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1
(Nitros win 3-1 on penalty kicks)
KEEPER Samim Shouly was the penalty shootout hero as Nitros' U15 Boys followed up their second successive league title with Charity Shield glory at Ontario Soccer Centre on Sunday afternoon.
Samim made the key stops after De'kwon Barrow's 18th goal of a prolific campaign had cancelled out Sasha Pecalevski's early opener for Unionville.
Barrow's calm finish for the equaliser typified a great season for the big striker who took on the mantle as the team's no9 after Hugo Mbongue signed for Toronto FC.
Regulation time, though, couldn't separate the teams and it took the shootout and Shouly's heroics to set the seal on another superb campaign for a relentless squad who have shone under the guidance of Head Coach Marko Milanovic.
CHANTELLE SEALS SHIELD GLORY
WINNERS AGAIN...the Nitros U17 Girls celebrate another piece of silverware as they pick up the OPDL Charity Shield
GIRLS UNDER-17 CHARITY SHIELD FINAL 2018
RICHMOND HILL...0 NORTH TORONTO NITROS...1
CHANTELLE PARKER'S 14th goal of an outstanding season saw the Nitros U17 Girls deservedly lift the Charity Shield at Ontario Soccer Centre on Saturday afternoon.
The striker pounced on a loose ball from an 11th minute corner to poke hime a predator's finish and secure another piece of silverware for what has become a stellar squad for NT.
It was an edgy final but Nitros dominated the first-half and could and should have been further ahead with one key chance at the back post for the brilliant Keyosha Donkor going begging when a crucial second beckoned.
Richmond Hill - who had edged Nitros to the league title by just one goal a week earlier - did come into the game after the break but Nitros eased home in the end and can now set their sights on the important CASL showcase event that could help see more of an already sought after squad secure scholarships at top universities in the States.