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North Toronto Derby Puts The Heat in Matchweek Eight

By lo admin, 06/20/15, 3:30PM EDT



North Toronto Derby Puts The Heat in Matchweek Eight

Sat Jun 20 
Written By: Kelly, Tim

There is plenty of football to go but it wouldn’t be an overstatement to call Sunday’s League 1 Ontario Vaughan derby between the Azzurri and Woodbridge Strikers a "big" match.

After the Strikers dropped Sigma 2-1 in Mississauga Wednesday night to lift themselves into third with 12 points, they'll need a victory to close the gap on second place Vaughan Azzurri, which has 17 points.

And Vaughan are targeting the first-place 19-point Oakville Blue Devils, perhaps surprise league leaders in their first season in the loop.

So, big game, indeed.


"They are our crosstown rivals and it's always a good tough match," said Vaughan coach Carmine Isacco, just before his team took the field Wednesday for a 4-0 Cup win over Master's FA. "It's a heated rivalry."

With both teams in form, the 7 p.m. contest at Vaughan Grove Field Sunday should be a highlight of the young season.

The Azzurri are firing on all cylinders so far with a goal difference of plus-16. The team is undefeated with five wins and two draws in seven league matches. But Isacco is a tough taskmaster and wants even more from his side.


"We should be unbeaten and untied," he said, saying that in the game where his team drew with ANB, "we played only about 20 per cent of the game. Our expectations should be better."

He said the Azzurri have overcome some injuries to continue to be competitive. They have scored a whopping 20 goals in seven games while giving up just four.

Joey Cicchillo has been finding the net frequently for the Azzurri in the early going with eight goals to not only lead the team, but the entire league - Joey Cicchillo is currently the front-runner in the League1 Ontario Golden Boot race. Meanwhile, team-mate Matthew Stinson is on four, Jonathan Lao has three, and Mario Kovacevic and Domenico Gullo have added a pair of goals apiece.

"Joey has been an impact player for a while now and he's putting it together for us. Mario's work creates space for the other players to take advantage of," said Isacco. He's confident Sunday will provide an exciting, "heated derby."


Woodbridge manager Peter Pinozzotto said the Strikers started very slowly, "like last year," but are starting to improve and pick up their play.

He said the loss of a number of key players like Oscar Cordon, Frank Lo Presti and Julian Uccello - as well as injuries to Stephen Almeida and Victor Munoz - has hurt the team, but believes Woodbridge will still have a decent season.


"Defensively, we've been doing a great job," said Pinozzotto of a team that has allowed just four goals in six matches. But Woodbridge struggles to score goals as well with just nine goals, enough to win four games while losing two.

One of those losses was a 1-0 late defeat to ANB, which Pinozzotto said particularly stung. "It was a very close game and we gave up a very late goal. We also gave up a few bad goals against Oakville," added the coach.

He also said the calibre of play in League 1 is improved this year over last year and that teams and players have to correspondingly up their level of play.

"It's a lot better this year than last year and you have to be ready to compete. There are some good teams like Sigma, Vaughan, Oakville, it's going to be tough. Sunday is going to be a very good match between us and Vaughan. It always is."

Woodbridge Strikers hosts Vaughan Azzurri at Vaughan Grove on Sunday June 21st, 7 p.m. kickoff.