U-14 Boys: Battle of Ontario headlines opening day
North Mississauga head coach Rick Titus knows his team got some fortunate bounces in its opening game of the 2012 U-14 Cup at the Canadian Soccer Association's National Championships. He is also well aware they will have to be much better if they’re to be crowned the country’s best by the end of the tournament.
In an all-Ontario battle, the North Mississauga Panthers capitalized on a couple of Mount Hamilton Avalanche mistakes and emerged with a 2:0 victory on Wednesday 3 October at the Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan, ON.
“We got a good result,” said Titus. “We didn’t play that well but it’s good to get the result, when you don’t play well.”
In the 25th minute, the first of North Mississauga’s favourable bounces occurred when Mount Hamilton defender Kevin Mutaga headed the ball backwards in front of his own net, allowing Panthers striker Cyrus Rollocks to go in on a breakaway and put it past Avalanche goalkeeper Jesse Di Domenico for the 1-0 lead.
“The way it came to it me, it was unexpected," said Rollocks. “When I looked up, I saw the goalkeeper coming and placed it in the right corner.”
Titus added, “(Mutaga’s) a good player. The chances of him doing that are very rare and he’s one of the most solid defenders in this competition. I was surprised by what happened, but you know what, we’ll take it.”
North Mississauga added to its lead five minutes later after a corner kick by Vincent Mauro went off Mount Hamilton’s Romaeo D’Intino and into the back of net.
“Its part of the game,” said Avalanche head coach Peter Tougher. “Sometimes (the bounces) go your way and this time it chose to go the other way.”
Tougher said he was pleased with his team’s effort despite the result, but there are still areas it must improve in.
“We need to move the ball quicker, we need to release it quicker and then we’ll be able to create more opportunities up front,” said Tougher. “We really need to get the ball to our strikers’ feet far more than we did today.”
For Titus, a little less nerves and some additional rest will be key for his North Mississauga squad going forward.
“The boys looked tired today,” said Titus. “I asked them before the game if they felt nervous, because of the occasion. They’re playing for the Canadian championship and I think it set in when we arrived this morning. They didn’t settle down until the second half.
“They need to rest right now. They’ve been going pretty hard the last couple of weeks preparing for this. They need a couple of days break and they should be ready for Friday. “
Mount Hamilton will face off with New Brunswick's Fundy United Thursday at 10.00 local time at the Ontario Soccer Centre, while North Mississauga will face off with Fundy United Friday at noon at the same venue.
Also on 3 October, Alberta's Edmonton Internazionale won 14:0 over the Yukon Strikers, Manitoba's Winnipeg South End United narrowly edged Saskatchewan's Aurora Diable with a 2:1 win, and Québec's Lanaudière-Centre won 9:1 over Newfoundland Labrador's Mount Pearl. For complete schedules and results, visit canadasoccer.com/nationals.