Sun Devils Rising; Astros plummeting
Jul 12, 2003
Author: Soccer Online - It's Called Futbol

July 12, Vaughan

Vaughan Sun Devils’ management team of Tony DeThomasis and Pino Furfaro were doing their best to remain low-key about their squad’s well-deserved victory over the North York Astros on Friday night at Dufferin-Clark…but they weren’t fooling anyone. The two gentlemen were obviously delighted to see that their Sun Devils showing signes that they are ready to challenge for post-season play in the Canadian Professional Soccer League’s Eastern Conference, which awards an automatic playoff position to the top two teams in each division.

“After the first 10 minutes, the Astros never got a chance to score,” said a smiling Furfaro moments after the match. “The second half was a bit boring actually. But our team is starting to gel. Some of our younger players have played together for years, and it is starting to show.”

The Astros opened brightly and rewarded with a goal in the 9th minute, to the disappointment of the 200 Sun Devils fans who braved the drizzling rain to attend the match. Alen Majstrovic struck a blast from the left wing, past Rob Scala in the Sun Devils’ goal.

Timothy Garzon equalized nine minutes later for the Sun Devils, a pivotal goal that changed the momentum of the match. His high looping volley from outside the penalty area found its way over a stunned Luciano Miranda in the Astros’ goal. The Sun Devils assumed control of the game, and their quick forwards wreaked havoc upon the Astros’ defence.

Michael Cipriani scored in the 40th minute on another looping volley that may have been assisted by the wind. Cameron Medwin scored the final goal of the match just before the half time whistle by blasting a shot from just inside the top of the penalty area.

The Astros maintained possession of the ball for much of the second half, but their attacking in the final third of the field was easily thwarted by Sun Devils veteran defender Bayete Smith and his Sun Devils teammates. In contrast, the Sun Devils attacking quartet of Joey Todaro, Cameron Medwin, Matthew Palleschi and Fitzroy Powell created several good scoring opportunities on counterattacks.

The final result might have been different had the Astros been able to bring on a player such as last-season’s goal-scoring hero Guillermo Compton Hall, but due to injury, the Argentinean was not even able to take a place on the substitute’s bench. “I will be back on July 29th,” declared a frustrated Compton Hall from the stands at the conclusion of the match.

“We have decided on a starting eleven now,” said the Sun Devils head coach, Dave Benning, in a post-game interview. “Everyone knows their role on the team. We have some good chemistry. And with the games being taped (on Rogers TV), there is no second-guessing on players’ performances.”

“This year, unlike last year,” observed Smith, who had a particularly strong game, “everyone is listening to each other and working hard. We want to make winning become a habit.”

Benning believes his team still has a lot to prove: “We play away to the Supra next week, which should be a great match.”

The Toronto Supra and the Sun Devils are vying for second place in the Eastern Conference, the former three points ahead of the latter. The Ottawa Wizards lead the conference with 16 points, although the Supra could draw even with a victory against the Laval Dynamites on Saturday afternoon at Dufferin Clark.

After a strong start to the season, North York has lost its last three games and has managed to score only one goal over that period. The experiment of utilizing Kurt Ramsey in the midfield has been scrapped, and the veteran defender is once again marshalling the defense. Unless the Astros’ coaching committee can, within the next few weeks, develop a new strategy that produces goals, North York will struggle to compete for a spot in the playoffs in the latter half of the schedule.

Ramsey, surprisingly, was optimistic after the game. “We played better today than we have been,” he remarked. “They took three shots and scored three goals.”

The Astros won-lost-tied league record falls to 2-4-2, while the Sun Devils improve their record to 3-1-1.

Match rating: Three out of five. The Sun Devils have all kinds of offensive weapons, and the exuberance of their young attackers is a treat to watch. The Glen Shields-Vaughan experiment seems to be working. The atmosphere at Dufferin-Clark has been excellent for each Sun Devils home game this season, bolstered by the Rogers TV crew and several hundred Glen Shields Soccer Club youth players and their families in attendance. The match rating would have been higher if the second half had maintained the intensity of the first.

Futnotes: It now appears that venues for the final two rounds of the Open Canada Cup and the Playoff Cup will not be announced until after the quarter final matches of the Open Cup are played on Aug. 1.

In other CPSL action last night, the Metro Lions stole three points from London City at Cove road on a single goal by Hayden Fitzwilliams. Toronto Croatia resumed its losing way with a 2-0 home loss to the St. Catharines Roma Wolves at Memorial Park.

Gold Cup News: Canada’s Men’s national team defeated Costa Rica 1-0 on Saturday afternoon in Boston on a goal by Ontario’s Paul Stalteri.

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