Sigma FC rebounded from their recent first and only loss of the season with a resounding 5-1 result over east division leaders Woodbridge Strikers on Matchweek 16.
"We scouted out Woodbridge very well," said Sigma head coach, Bobby Smyrniotis. "They are one of the top teams in the league and obviously the first in the east and coming off a championship win in the L1 Cup. We know they bring a lot to the table but in looking at that we always look at where we can succeed on the pitch and I think we found some very good gaps, especially attacking quickly and getting in behind them."
Striker Mo Babouli (40', 49', 77') scored three, while Johnny Grant (65') and Daniel Jodah (73') added singles in a tightly-fought match.
"In the first half we created some very good opportunities and had a goal, but created several more opportunities from there," added Smyrniotis.
"In the second half I think we just stepped it up, our speed going forward and the willingness of our guys to press high was very good and it led to a very emphatic win today."
Johnny Grant, Sigma FC (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
Christian Cavallini (60') brought the Strikers to within one goal of levelling the score, but the Strikers didn't have the legs to keep the west division leaders back after a long a difficult week of matches.
"We knew coming into the game that it would be difficult for us physically," said Woodbridge assistant coach, Marco Reda. "Our players expended a lot of energy in the last week with two big matches against Vaughan, one of the being a Cup game, and there was a lot of emotional energy expended in those games, which takes a toll physically as well."
"We were hoping the game would go a little bit in our favour and then the boys would get their legs eventually, but it didn't happen. Sigma played a good game, and although the score might be a bit too flattering to them I think at the end our boys were just suffering too much physically and that led to the result."
Sigma's new keeper Robert Stillo was an excellent replacement for usual net-minder Triston Henry, who was a serving a one-game suspension, while youngster Hilli Goldhar also impressed after being called in to replace the badly injured David Velastegui.
Christian Cavallini (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
"Both Triston and Robert [Stillo] are very good keepers in their own rite," said Smyrniotis.
"Triston is a League1 All-Star and to this day he is the top goalkeeper in the league if you go with what I've seen. Then you look at a guy like Stillo, who we know very well and has been training with us for several years in his off-seasons, and he has been playing overseas. When you can add a player with that kind of experience it pays off on a day like today when Triston is serving a one game suspension. Now that creates depth for us and that is very important."
"And every year around the August time period you will see some new faces playing for Sigma, and Hilly is one of those guys," he added.
"He was born in 2000 and is a very good player. He has been playing a lot with our second team this year in the U21 division and today was a good fit and way for him to get going. His entrance to the game didn't come the way we wanted it to come with David Velestagui's injury, but at that point we know the qualities he has and what he can bring to the field and I think he showed a top performance for sixty minutes. Sometimes you have to throw the young guys in the fire and let them go."
(Photo: Martin Bazyl)
Both Sigma and Woodbridge remain first in their respective divisions, with Sigma unable to afford even the slightest slip-up as second-place side Oakville Blue Devils remain tied on points at the top. Woodbridge Strikers lost ground at the top of the east division with the loss, but still retain a five point lead on second-place side, Vaughan Azzurri.
We told the players afterwards not to think too much of it. Playing three games in six days is taxing and difficult and we didn't play any cream-puffs - we played two of the other top teams in the league," said Reda.
"We had to be at our top mentally, physically, technically and emotionally to beat Vaughan. I don't want to take away anything from Sigma's performance, but we told our players to get a few days rest and then we need a good week of training next week to head into our next game against Masters."
Sigma FC will next play FC London on September 8 at German Canadian Club, London.
Woodbridge Strikers will next play Masters FA Saints on August 20 at Vaughan Grove, Woodbridge.