Peter heading to Quad-A provincials despite coming up
short in high-scoring city final
Members of the St. Peter Knights pose fpr
a group photo of accepting their silver medals
following their 5-4 loss to the St. Pius X-Men
in the NCSSAA AAA/AAAA senior boys city championship
on Thursday. Fred Sherwin/Photo
St. Peter Knights senior boys soccer team gave the St.
Pius X-Men all they could handle on Thursday, but it was
not to be as the X-Men came back from a two goal deficit
to beat the Knights and win their fourth city championship
in the past five years.
X-Men were the heavy favourties coming into the final
having won seven straight including a 2-0 win over the
Knights in the opening game of the season.
Knights were 5-2 and were the fifth lowest scoring team
in the league having scored just 13 goals in seven games.
By comparison the X-Men scored 24 goals and allowed just
teams knew coming into the game that they had qualified
for the provincial championships, St. Pius at the AAA
level and St. Peter, having the higher enrollment, in
the X-Men were looking to win their fourth city championship
in the past five years, the Knights were hoping to win
it for the first time since 2005. What transpired on the
artificial pitch behind Franco Cité high school
turned out to be one of the most entertaining finals in
game got off to a rather ignominious start for St. Peter
as a sloppy turnover at midfield and a misplayed ball
by Knights keeper Derrick Mbuliyo resulted in 1-0 lead
for St. Pius before the game was barely a minute old.
Knights could have let the early goal take the wind out
of their sales and gone through the motions the rest of
the way, but instead they took a couple of minutes to
steady themselves and then began to take control in midfield.
Peter got the equalizer at the 7:19 mark of the first
half on a great tic-tac-toe play up the middle from Blair
Plummer to Luis Castro to Justin Tilley who took the wonderfully
timed lead pass and deftly put it past St. Pius keeper
Ben Nicoletta who came out to challenge Tilley on the
X-Men very nearly replied two minutes later on a long
pass from midfield to Marco Natoli who had Mbuliyo beaten
on the play but rolled the ball wide. It then came back
to Shemar Hoilett at the top of the box on a poor clearance
and Mbuliyo had to be sharp to gather in the midfielder's
Knights next foray downfield resulted in a corner kick
which was taken by Sean Hegarty who delivered a perfect
ball to the left foot of Blair Plummer who volleyed it
Nicoletta and into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead;
about the 20 minute mark, the Knights began to fall back
at midfield, allowing the X-Men to press for the equalizer.
The would eventually get the tying goal in the 26th minute
on a pass from Aaron Nkazzonnyi to Daniel Padovan who
got behind his defender and delivered a shot past Mbuliyo
that caught the inside of the far post for his second
goal of the game.
X-Men continued to press for the go ahead goal as time
wound down in the first half and Mbuliyo had to come up
big, first on a free kick from Natoli in the 33rd minute,
and again on a strike from Natoli as time expired.
the second half got under way, the Knights did to the
X-Men what the X-Men did to the them in the first minute
of the game by scoring in the opening minute of play on
another great bit of passing from Adam Lofranco to Hegarty
to Premice Luanda who touched it past Nicoletta with his
Knights would go up 4-2 in the 47th minute off a free
kick by Kris Radzichowsky who curled his attempt along
the ground to the far post where Castro timed his strike
Peter barely had time to celebrate their good fortune
before Natoli scored on a perfectly placed free kick in
the 49th minute that curled into the top corner from just
outside the box to narrow the Knights' lead to 4-3.
Pete's appeared to re-establish their two goal lead in
the 56th minute on another perfectly placed free kick
to the far post by Radzichowsky, but Joey Martello, who
headed the ball in, was flagged for being offside.
would get another chance to give his team a two goal lead
a minute later on a nice lead pass from Radzichowsky,
but his second touch betrayed and he lost control of ball
with Nicoletta down and out on the play.
missed opportunities would come back to haunt the Knights
as the X-Men managed to tie the game a minute later on
Natoli's second goal of the game set up by Padovan and
X-Men would eventually take the lead on an own goal by
Knights' defender Alex Green in the 63rd minute. The play
was set up by Padovan who crossed the ball through the
box to Nkazzonnyi who fired a shot towards the far post.
As Green slid to try and block the shot he accidentally
redirected into the top of the net. If he hadn't touched
the ball, Padovan would have easily scored on the play.
5-4 with seven minutes left to go in regulation, the Knights
were unable to mount much offence against a St. Pius team
determined to protect their one goal lead despite having
to play an extra seven minutes of added time.
they didn't win the game, the Knights can take a lot of
postives with them as the prepare for the OFSAA Quad-A
championships, not the least of which is the fact that
they managed to score four goals against a stingy St.
Pius side that had only allowed four goals in their previous
seven games combined.
11:30 p.m., Oct. 25)
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