TFC Academy continued their late season progress with an emphatic 6-0 win over Sanjaxx Lions in matchweek 17. Richie Ennin (23', 49') led the team with a double, while Nikola Stakic (33'), Tristan Borges (57'), Aidan Daniels (78') and Liam Fraser (90 + 2') contributed a goal each.
"The speed of the TFCA players was the biggest challenge for us," said Sanjaxx head coach, Laza Lowe. "And the key moment was when we didn't capitalize when the score was 2-1. We were in alone on the keeper and didn't capitalize, and I think it would have been a different story if we did."
"Sometimes this was a problem because over confidence can creep in," said Stuart Neely, "so the boys were trying to find that balance. When it was balanced they played with a lot of flair and passion."
"Phil [DiBennardo] made two or three very big saves at 1-0, 2-0, and 4-0. He was excellent! Key moments where he came up big to keep the shutout!"
With TFCA knocking in the goals, both coaches found a lot of room for MVP mentions - but not all of them attacking minded players.
"Even though the game was 6-0 for TFCA, our goalkeeper - 17 year old kid, Nick Martino - played outstanding for us," said Lowe. Annd another 17 year old, Fabio Vilaca had an outstanding game."
"Their goalkeeper [Phil DiBennardo] was a very good player, he made some great saves," added Lowe. "Andrew Dias, left back, was a very good player, and the striker Richie Ennin - he was always a problem for us."
Neely agreed with Lowe's choices, and added one for the Lions.
"Lael Daniel, their #10 midfielder, was very technical - good dribbling skill and playing knowledge," he said. "I was impressed."
"For TFCA, our outstanding players were once again Richie Ennin with two goals and creative dynamic play," he added. "Malik Johnson and Liam Fraser were confident and effective on both sides of the ball. Very impressive. Niko Stakic, Tomas Mickoski also played very well. Subs Daniels and Borges were excellent!"
The win was not without its challenges for Toronto FC, however.
"The boys had started off slowly as our target was not giving us a lot defensively, and it was difficult to find our rhythm shifting from in to out," said Neely. "Our lines got a bit tighter due to Nikola Stakic moving the lines forward quickly once we had cleared the ball or played it positively."
"We will focus on the final third and the final pass creating opportunities to score, as well as attempting to remain compact and delaying the attack."
Toronto FC Academy is at Ontario Soccer Centre on matchweek 18, playing a special gala day match vs. Master's FA Saints on Sunday August 30 for the official opening of the facility - kickoff will be 11 a.m.
The League1 Ontario match will be followed by the TFC II vs. Charlotte Independence match in the USL Pro league, scheduled to kick off at 3 p.m.
Sanjaxx plays on Sunday August 30 away to second place Vaughan Azzurri at McNaughton Turf, Maple - 2 p.m. kickoff.