By MATT ROSS Special to The Mirror
Desperate for a quick start to the 2001 campaign, the North York Astros bolted into the win column with a 2-0 decision Sunday against the York Region Shooters in the Canadian Professional Soccer League (CPSL).
With just three victories last season and only 10 in its last three years, North York recognized the urgency to triumph versus the Shooters.
Following the winless drought the Astros suffered in past opening matches, this early win has temporarily quenched their thirst.
This match followed heavy afternoon rains turning the field at Crosby Park in Richmond Hill into a slip and slide.
Cautiously, North York avoided any mistakes and cashed in on their few chances.
Midfielder Gaston Bizera, who was nominated by the Astros for rookie-of-the-year in 2000, has noticed the change in the franchise between this year and previously.
"The group is more organized and we actually have a team," said the OAC student from St. Basil's the Great separate school. "Last year we waited until the second half before we came together."
One of the key additions to the Astros' roster, goalkeeper Luciano Miranda was last season's starting netminder for York Region.
Part of his preparation, especially with the slippery pitch, was to communicate effectively with his new teammates.
"I told my defenders when they pass the ball to be careful because with the puddles, we didn't want a ball to get stuck."
The two-goal cushion allowed North York to practise their offensive sets including working the sidelines.
Midfielder Peter Zorbas, with four seasons of experience at Laurentian University, said the Astros success will happen when they'll spread the ball throughout the field.
"We're trying to establish our own style. We'll kick in the air and also attack from different angles by going through the flanks (wings)."
However, North York cannot become too complacent as they face a formidable Toronto Croatia squad for the Astros' home opener at Esther Shiner Stadium this Sunday at 7 p.m.
In four matches versus the Croatia last year, North York eked out a mere 0-0 draw with three losses.
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