Saturday’s League 1 Ontario matchup between fifth-placed Windsor Stars and Masters FA Saints in sixth, promised to be a tight affair, and it lived up to the billing as Saints needed to hang on to cling to a 2-0 victory.
First-half goals from leading scorer Alex Dimitriu, with his fifth of the season, and Marcus Malcolm, who notched his third from the penalty spot after Mike Themelis was brought down, stood up for the win.
The victory brings Masters to within three points of the Stars, who have two games in hand on the Saints. Masters have just two games left to play in the sixteen-game season. Other than an unfortunate 8-2 blowout to Toronto FC Academy a few weeks ago that saw them finish the match with just eight men on the field after three were red-carded, the Saints have been playing much better of late.
They earned a confident 3-1 win two weeks back in Durham, then upset Sigma FC 2-1 in Cup play Wednesday evening before Saturday’s victory.
Shane Lopez, who kept the clean sheet and was a confident presence in goal for Saints, said he has seen better play from the back on up the field for Masters and feels it’s a good sign for next season.
“We put in the effort right away to get the three points, we put in the work,” said Lopez after Saturday’s win, which gives Masters thirteen points in fourteen matches on four wins, a draw and nine defeats. Windsor has sixteen points after twelve games with five wins, a draw and six defeats.
Lopez did say he would like to see his club show more consistency. Masters, after jumping ahead by two goals just after the half-hour mark, seemed to sag and could have found Windsor easily within a goal, especially after Stars' danger man Gino Berardi, with six goals on the season, rapped one off the post on the hour. That was as close as the Stars got to beating Lopez.
“We have to be more consistent. If we can put in that extra work, that extra mile, the consistency will be there from game to game,” said Lopez.
The big keeper likes to take charge of the club out on the field, constantly yelling out commands and orders to his younger teammates. He said it comes naturally.
“I was taught from a young age, if you don’t control the game, the game will control you. I try to take charge from the start. You never know when that one save will come up,” he said.
For Lopez and Masters, it’s all about ending the season on a high.
“We want to end off on a good note, we want to build up for next year. We want make sure we play well coming down the stretch.”
Masters will get their next chance to show what they can do at home next Saturday at L’Amoureux vs. Durham United FC at 3 p.m.
For Windsor, they’re home Saturday at 7 p.m. at McHugh Stadium to the high-flying Vaughan Azzurri, who sit in second-place just a point back of Toronto FC Academy. Vaughan have twenty-six points in twelve matches to twenty-seven points in eleven matches for TFC Academy.
TFC Academy were due to play this past Sunday, but a match scheduled for the Kia Training Ground at 1 p.m. with Kingston Cataraqui Clippers was postponed. It will be played at a later date.
A game Friday night in Durham between Durham United and Woodbridge Strikers was also called after three minutes, due to high winds, rain, lightning and thunder. It will also be made up at a later date.