After an end-to-end barnstormer of a match between local rivals Woodbridge Strikers and Vaughan Azzurri, the #L1Cup2017 Men's Final was ultimately decided by a brace from Emmanuel Issac (27', 74') en route to a 3-1 win for the Strikers.
“I think both teams played some quality soccer tonight," said Woodbridge head coach, Peter Pinizzotto. "It was a good final to watch."
"Both teams played well, although I thought we had a very slow start. I was not expecting that kind of a slow start. But we started coming strong part of the first half, and then after we played a very good second half."
Vaughan Azzurri (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
The match was full of top-quality goals, not least the opener by Vaughan's Brandon John (2') within minutes of the opening whistle. John collected a layoff in stride to bend the ball first-time into the top corner.
"Brandon John is suppose to be a number six, but he got a little excited and wanted to get more goals," said Vaughan Azzurri head coach, Carmine Isacco.
"In my view it’s acts of commission versus acts of omission. I mean he committed to winning the game. I don’t think our mentality or our work ethic was in question. They found moments where they were good and those are the moments that are most important."
Emmanuel Issac (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
Woodbridge began to quickly put the opener behind them however, and Emmanuel Issac banished its memory with a phenomenal right footed curler that banked in off the back post and left Vaughan keeper Andrew D'Souza to pick it out of the net.
Both sides took the momentum for stages of the first half and early second, but it was James Baker's (59') header just before the hour that marked Woodbridge's breakout phase. Initiated by midfielder Dylan Carriero's sumptuous cross, Baker was sure to latch on from six yards out and leave D'Souza with no chance.
A minute later the early discipline issues in the match came to bear, with Vaughan midfielder Joseph Di Chiarra receiving his second caution of the match and leaving the Azzurri with ten men.
"Losing Joe [Di Chiara], and he's our best player by far, for me he's one of the best players in the league - [it] really hurt us," said Isacco.
(Photo: Martin Bazyl)
The Strikers tasted blood and immediately the tempo of the match increased, with Woodbridge's counter-attacks coming regularly and at lightning pace. The Strikers were rewarded when substitute Luca Baldassare laid off a ball for Issac, who calmly rounded the onrushing D'Souza and slipped the insurance goal into the open net.
"During the game it’s hard to motivate, but they knew how big the game was for us today and I guess it didn’t take very much for them to start picking out the pace," said Pinizzotto.
"I thought we were losing a lot of balls in the midfield but we sort of settled down, especially in the second half with Josh [Parades-Proctor] and Dylan [Carreiro] starting to win a lot more balls. Play felt a bit more energy and intensity. So I thought we started to produce more opportunities for forwards and our wingers," he added.
"We've always been looking for someone to start scoring goals, and Emmanuel is always playing his chances, just today he was able to finish on his chances and I think he deserved to be the MVP of the game," said Pinizzotto.
#L1Cup2017 Men's SoccerX.Com MVP: Emmanuel Issac (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
"Through the years we’ve always been on top of the table, finish second last year [and] year before that same thing," said MVP Emmanuel Issac.
"We won the cup two years ago, but I think we always have the quality team to be in first place."
"We added new players to our team that have made a huge impact and we couldn’t do it without the team. We have a great team this year and I think we will finish out strong for the rest of the season."
#L1Cup2017 Men's Champions: Woodbridge Strikers (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
Woodbridge Strikers claimed the #L1Cup2017 Men's Championship at the whistle, their second in four years and apt revenge over their local rivals Vaughan Azzurri, who had beat them in the 2016 edition.
"It’s our neighbours," said Isacco.
"Even at the youth level there’s a tremendous amount of respect, there’s a tremendous amount of passion and a tremendous amount of energy and I think it’s good for the game."
"I think the level of competition is what makes our players better, makes their players better and we need a little more of it. For sure it’s good for the game, for sure it’s making our players better and for sure it’s giving some added value to the league."
“It’s always tough to play Vaughan because they get up to play us and we get up to play them. Their a good team, they’re similar to us, they look to move the ball around, their a position team and they play good soccer.
"Anytime we play against each other it’s both clubs wanting to win and today we’re luck to come out on top," said Pinizzotto.
"The last three years we got to the final and I think the guys were just up for the game today."
"We'll play [Vaughan] again in the league on Wednesday," he concluded.
"It’s going to be a tough one, definitely."