North Mississauga Panthers sent their fans home happy on Saturday evening, earning their first League1 Ontario win over Pro Stars FC, courtesy of an 89th minute strike from second half substitute Hilda Chmait.
Both teams braved persistent rain, unseasonably cool conditions and a very fast surface at Mississauga's Hershey Centre, which made it difficult for either side to establish their game plan as effectively as they would have liked. A scoreless draw seemed inevtiable, especially after North Mississauga's Cachet Lue struck the goalpost on a 78th minute penalty shot.
Panthers' Assistant Coach Trevor Bertrand was pleased to see that his side didn't hang their head after the missed penalty.
"It was late into the game but North Mississauga continued to pressure," said Bertrand. "Hilda Chmait attacked down the left side and hit a left footed drive to the far left corner to secure a victory."
Pro Stars had some good opportunities in the first half and it is clear to their staff that work needs to be done over the coming week in the attacking third.
"Our challenge in this game was finishing," said Teresa Marando of PSFC. "Our missed opportunities early on were certainly the key moments."
Conisdering the difficult conditions, both teams demonstrated a very compact and organized defence, which limited the quantity of excellent scoring chances in this match.
However, both goalkeepers, Stephanie Bukovec of North Mississauga and Pro Stars' Bryanna Singh, were required to make some big saves. Bertrand was especially impressed with a first half stop made by his 'keeper to hold the visitors off the scoreboard.
"Pro Stars got a good look due to a defensive giveaway, but the shot from the left was well saved by Stephanie Bukovec," recalled Bertrand.
Despite taking home three points, the NMSC coaching staff believes there is much work still to do.
"Overall, the team played strong defensively, but we have to continue to work on our finishing and team shape," said Bertrand. "We need the players to understand their role and their positioning when the ball is in certain areas of the field."
Pro Stars will have a couple of weeks to work on developing their players into a cohesive unit. They return to action on June 20 when they play host to league leaders Durham United FC.
North Mississauga will welcome Vaughan Azzurri on June 6 at the Hershey Centre. Kickoff is 8pm.
PFC: MARTINA LONCAR