Vaughan Azzurri needed just a single point in their match against the visiting Masters FA Saints at MacNaughton Field on Tuesday night to move on to Thursday's semi-final in the L1 Cup.
But, after all, Vaughan cruised to a safe 3-0 victory on the strength of a pair of goals from Dena Iezady and one from Matthew Arnone, all in the second half, to secure first place in Group B and a date with Durham United FC at Esther Shiner Stadium in North York on Thursday at 8 p.m.
Izeady finished a beautiful pass from Casey D’Mello to find the goal behind Shane Lopez in the Masters goal to open the scoring in the sixty-eighth minute.
Just a few minutes later, Vaughan had a chance to go up 2-0 when the ref awared a penalty kick, but Matthew Stinson rapped it off the post with Lopez beaten.
Iezady then stepped up an converted a penalty kick in style in the eighty-eighth minute after being pushed in the area. Just a few minutes later, in the nintieth minute, it was Arnone’s turn to finish clinically in the area and blast past Lopez to make the final 3-0.
The Azzurri goal was never seriously troubled, though the teams played an even, scrappy first half with neither side coming close to scoring.
However, as the second half wore on, the Azzurri began to assert their superiority and the breakthrough was bound to happen at some point.
Iezady picked the perfect time in his season to score twice for the first time, and is looking forward to a match-up with Durham.
“It was very tight for a long time, we came out and did what we had to do and got the result which is all that matters,” said Iezady.
“We came in confident and ready. Our defensive shape was set,” said the tall midfielder who blasted the penalty kick past Lopez like a real pro.
“If you want to take a penalty, you’ve got to be real confident or don’t bother going up,” he added.
Carmine Isacco, head coach of Vaughan, isn't taking Durham lightly.
“Durham's got a good side, they've got a good group of players, they're organized properly, and we'll have to be ready,” he said.
“We've got to manage energy and manage the players. We’ve got a good group of young kids,” he noted.
The other semifinal features Toronto FC Academy versus Sigma at Kia Training Ground in Downsview Park at 8 p.m.
The winning semifinalists will meet at BMO Field in downtown Toronto on Sunday, Oct. 19 at 2:30 p.m. in the inaugural League 1 Ontario Cup Final. Admission is free.