A riveting 2016 men's L1 Cup first round battle between two of the league heavyweights ended after Vaughan Azzurri won the tie-breaking penalties following a 1-1 full-time draw with Oakville Blue Devils.
"I have a lot of respect for Vaughan and their program," said Oakville head coach, Duncan Wilde. "They are always well set-up and organized and you know you're going to get a ninety minute game."
"We can definitely get better, and we know that, but tonight was a few very good strides in the right direction."
"I thought just all around it was a very good cup tie with both teams looking for a win, were well-matched, and it went the distance. I don't think another match in the first round will go that distance."
It was a cagey back and forth tactical battle between the two teams, with very little ever separating them. Vaughan's Jarek Whiteman (23') put the away side on the board first, but Oakville's Al James (28') brought the Blue Devils back to equal footing only minutes later.
Both teams created an equal share of opportunities to score again, but neither strike line could penetrate the other's well-organized defence. In the end, penalties beckoned and it took a keeper to win the day.
"We were a bit shorthanded but I thought the guys worked through it," said Vaughan head coach, Carmine Isacco. "It wasn't an easy game by any means, they are a mature, physical team that are hard to beat."
"I thought we did enough, we could have been better in the final third and transition. That was the key, getting our first goal in transition. Our mental disposition to get forward and get at them was not as good as I expected. We will look to improve our transition game, getting from defensive to offensive situations right away."
Vaughan's Andrew D'Souza came up big in the tie-breaker, saving Oakville goalscorer James with the Blue Devils seventh kick. The penalties had been as tense and cagey as the full match, with both teams missing one in the first set of five and then missing back to back kicks to set the stage for the final pair.
First Vaughan's Brandon Mills stepped up and dispatched his penalty low and inside Oakville GK Karman Saini's right-hand post.
Oakville's left-footed Al James attempted to send D'Souza the wrong way and curl one inside the left hand post, but D'Souza was up for the challenge and got two strong hands to the save.
Vaughan will proceed to the second round of the L1 Cup versus Aurora United FC at a date and venue to be confirmed.
"We want to be more proactive, not as reactive as we have been," said Isacco.
"We dealt with their strengths today, and I think these two teams are going to be very good within a couple months. As much as you prepare in preseason etc., we're just not there yet."