July 4, 2019 – A rescheduled game, on only half a week’s rest, against a team their neck-and-neck within the standings, and the North Mississauga Panther’s team triumphed 2-0. A match-up which saw them take on their former coach, now at ProStars F.C. in Victoria Park on Wednesday evening in Brampton. 

The game started off feisty with a foul that could have been a straight red two minutes in on a tackle that went over the ball that left Moses Toe in a heap on the floor. The game continued it’s torrid pace, with ProStars having the better of play in the opening few minutes. 

The Panthers started to work themselves into the match, and after a fantastic run by Sundin Esperence that saw him hauled down as he cut the right back to shreds, left the referee with no choice but to point to the spot. Damion Scott stepped up and calmly slotted the ball past Christian Campanico in the 20th minute. There were no protests as it was a clear foul that led up to the penalty. 

Victoria Park, Brampton

The Panthers weren’t done as Sundin Esperence doubled the lead in the 39th minute. Chris Simms and Ali El Zeir played some lovely give and goes, which saw El Zeir dance along the endline to slot a ball to the streaking Esperence who finished coolly from 3 yards out. 

As has been a trend even when they played first-place Vaughan Azzuri and second-place Oakville Blue Devils at home in recent weeks, the Panthers played excellent defence. 

This time, however, it was also combined with a great offensive effort, which Coach Balta had been stressing for weeks that his team needed to accomplish. 

“We defended really well,” said Coach Balta. “They have a good attack, so it was great to shut them down. Our goalkeeper [Jared Maloney] also made a great save right at the end. Up front, Luca [Pacheco] was able to hold the ball. When we’re able to move the ball, it allows guys to get forward.” 

Esperence’s performance earned specific mention from his coach, as he didn’t just score the insurance goal, but he also drew the penalty that led to Scott’s penalty kick goal. Coach Balta gave him credit for his overall performance especially in Wednesday’s game. 

“He’s grown a lot in the last few weeks as a player and as an individual,” he said. “He carries forward a lot of competitiveness and determination to score … he’s got a great mind for the game.” 

This match caught the Panther’s up to the rest of the league in terms of matches played. As the match was originally scheduled for May 22nd, but was postponed due to thunderstorms. 

The game moves the Panthers tied for seventh in League1 standings (but sit 8th place on Goal Differential). This win moves them into a playoff spot, and Coach Balta knew full well how important winning this game was given this fact. 

“It was huge,” said Balta. “To get the three points and with our goal differential being better than theirs, it was almost like getting four points. … Confidence wise, it tells us we’re ready to be in the playoffs.” 

Given that the team has a slate of three matches over eight days, playing Vaughan last Friday, and ProStars last evening – and the looming contest Saturday with Master’s Futbol, Coach Balta knows the team will have to train differently, which is why he’s mainly resting his players this week. 

“We had to cancel training tonight because you have to let guys rest,” said Balta. “We’re just going to get guys together to watch video to get ready for that game.” 

Key Notes: 

  • The team also got midfielder Lee Victor Massunda back from injury this week. He played 33 minutes in the game against ProStars F.C. and Coach Balta said he’s hoping Massunda will be ready to go on Saturday. He had missed the previous two matches against Vaughan Azzurri & Oakville Blue Devils. 
  • Nick Proctor made his debut with a fantastic 29 minutes on the pitch. 
  • Luke Rankin and Saleman Salim continued their excellent Defensive pairing with Jared Maloney backstopping the team to a clean sheet. 
  • Panthers Record improves to (4W, 2D, 3L, 14pts, 8th place) 
  • The Panthers have surpassed their point total from the 2018 season already where they earned just 12 points on the year. 

Upcoming Match Notes against Master’s Futbol (5W, 2D, 2L, 17pts, 5th place). 

  • The game against Master’s Futbol will be played on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. at L’Amoureux Park (100 Silvers Springs Blvd, Scarborough). You can watch the game live on league1ontario.com. 
  • Scoring Threats – Triston Frankson & Akeem Priestly both have 4 goals on the campaign. They have a balanced attack with five players having 2 or more goals. 
  • Masters Futbol like to score Early. They have 20 goals this season with 13 of those coming in the first stanza of the match. 
  • Adam Czerkawski has played every minute of the season thus far for Masters Futbol. He has one goal on the year. 
  • Their last five games: 3W-1D-1L, 10 Pts. They had a late equalizer given up to Oakville Blue Devils last time out, while losing to Darby (team we are tied with), while getting the better of Windsor TFC, London FC, and Woodbridge Strikers.
  • Home Record: 2W-1D-2L at L’Amoureux Park