Toronto FC III advance to the 2018 L1 Cup Finals after sticking away six to Sigma FC's five penalty kicks, following an exciting 1-1 draw in full time between these two men's division powerhouses.
A very windy Saturday afternoon, and a very physical game right off the bat, was order of the day as both teams came out ready to fight for a spot in the Cup finals.
TFC III absorbed a lot of pressure in the first half, with Sigma pressing high and finding the target four times, hitting two off target.
A couple great chances came in the first half for the visitors as Kadell Thomas and Marcel Zajac combined well to get crosses into the box.
Still it was TFC to get the first goal, on a counter-attack, when Kunle Dada-Luke (23') drove towards goal and slotted one past Sigma goalkeeper, Triston Henry.
Sigma would answer ten minutes later as Thomas did well to beat his defender down the line and pulled a cross back to the top of the 18 yard box for Mansoor Alfazy (33'), who made no mistake and finished in the bottom right corner.
TFC had the chance to get the go-ahead goal late in the first half as Jayden Nelson slotted a great ball to the back post, but Sigma's Henry came sliding out to deny the opportunity.
The second half started just as the first – Sigma with majority possession and two great efforts from Zajac and Kyle Walton in the first five minutes.
As Sigma pressed early on, they kept TFC goalkeeper Engbers very busy, sending him diving left and right.
The majority of the game was then played in the middle third, with a few notable efforts back and forth, and Sigma being the stronger attacking team but unable to execute in the final third.
After a 1-1 draw in full time, this L1 Cup Semi-Final was on its way straight to penalties.
Both teams seemed jittery, missing their first penalties - Sigma's Kyle Walton hit the crossbar, while TFC's Marko Mandekic was denied by a sprawling Henry.
Then Sigma's Giuliano Frano, Hili Goldhar, Zajac, and David Velastegui all stepped up and scored clinically, while TFC's Zakaria Abdi, Afram Gorgees, and Dada-Luke responded by dispatching theirs as well.
The fifth and final kick was a nail biter as Sigma's keeper Henry, who had played an outstanding match, had a chance to win it for the blues.
TFC's Luke Singh shot low to the left, and the ball had just enough power behind it that the outstretched right hand of Henry couldn't keep it out of the net.
In sudden death penalties, Sigma's Dionysis Stergiotis and TFC's Ralph Priso slotted their shots into the back of the net to tie it 5-5.
Onto the seventh penalty round, where Sigma's Charlie Anagho-Ntamark stepped up and was promptly denied by the upright.
TFC's left-back Sal Mazzaferro, who now had the chance to take it all for the Junior Reds, stepped up and calmly finished it into the left corner. A trip to the 2018 L1 Cup Finals is now guaranteed for the Reds, where they will take on the winner of Sunday's Semi-Final featuring Oakville Blue Devils vs Vaughan SC.
Toronto FC III will next host Pro Stars FC on July 29 (1:00 p.m.) at BMO Training Grounds, Toronto.
Click here to keep up on all the news, goals, wins and statistics for the Reds on their team page.
Sigma will next host Oakville Blue Devils on July 28 (4:00 p.m.) at Hershey Centre, Mississauga.
Click here to keep up on all the news, goals, wins and statistics for Sigma on their team page.