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Kotsopolous Brace Earns Vaughan L1 Cup 2018 Championship Over TFC III

08/05/2018, 12:45am EDT
By Jonathan Cheng

Vaughan Azzurri finally blew through Toronto FC III with a brace from Jace Dayton Kotsoupoulos (4', 61'), lifting their second L1 Cup in three years after a 2-1 victory at the Ontario Soccer Centre on Saturday, in a match that was full of entertainment and drama.

Jarred Phillips set the tempo early by hitting a sublime long pass into the path of Kotsoupoulos, who finessed the right-footed, half-volley around TFC III goalkeeper Sebastian Sgarbossa for the opening goal. Vaughan were keen to beat their opponents with quick transitions, leaving the Junior Reds with little time to react.

The brace was earned in the second half when Jarek Whiteman received a long ball from the defending half and centered it into the TFC box. The ball went through six defenders before Kotsoupoulos finished the left-footed chance low and across his body.

Both chances were created from quick transitions that were started from sound defending. Head coach Carmine Isacco drilled his Vaughan side to be ready to limit the opportunities of TFC while capitalizing on their own.

"It was our defending that created a lot of chances today," Isacco said. "We created space in behind with our shape, we took away opportunities, and when we got forward, we had same numbers, or we outnumbered them a lot of the time."

Toronto FC III were left frustrated in the final third with little space to break through the Azzurri defence that didn't concede a goal throughout the tournament.

Afram Gorgees (78') broke the goose egg when he tucked a penalty away after Daniel Bilousov was bowled over in the box by former TFC Academy player Dylan Sacramento.

(Photo: Martin Bazyl Photography)

(Photo: Martin Bazyl Photography)

(Photo: Martin Bazyl Photography)

(Photo: Martin Bazyl Photography)

(Photo: Martin Bazyl Photography)

TFC pushed for an equalizer late in the game, but the move to go all out in attack left spaces in behind for Vaughan speedsters to pounce on. Phillips and Ryan Raposo both had chances that were stopped by the crossbar and Sgarbossa respectively.

It was a tough learning moment for the Junior Reds who reached their first ever L1 Cup final. A lack of experience could have been a factor, but head coach Danny Dichio spins the challenge into a positive outcome.

"We know we're a very young team in this league, and some people can use that as an excuse," Dichio said. "I tend to veer away from it because we're trying to push these guys into the professional ranks."

Despite the loss in the final, TFC still lead the men's division with their potent attack of young stars. Going up against Vaughan Azzurri, no matter the result at the end of the night, is a challenge welcomed by the players, some of whom were born in 2002.

"What an incredible game for them to play in, against an experienced team like Vaughan," Dichio said.

"They'll take the good, but they'll also hopefully learn from the experiences where we should have been able to break them down because we're a very good team going forward."

Meanwhile, Vaughan will sleep easy with another L1 Cup in their trophy cabinet and memories of eliminating powerhouse teams in the process.

"We had to beat Woodbridge and Oakville to get to this spot," Isacco said after the victory over TFC. "The tournament was a good character test for us, and I'm proud of the guys."

Vaughan Azzurri will look to bring their momentum into league play when they visit Darby FC at the Whitby Soccer Centre on August 10 (8:00 p.m.).

There will be little rest for Toronto FC III before their next match on August 7 (9:00 p.m.) when they visit Woodbridge Strikers at Vaughan Grove Turf, Woodbridge.

TFC III and Vaughan will meet for a rematch in league play on August 14 (9:00 p.m.) at the Ontario Soccer Centre once again.

Tag(s): Home  News  2018 Archive  August  Mens L1 Cup  TFC III  Vaughan