The games are getting tighter and the games and the points are meaning more for the North Mississauga men’s Panthers this season, as they’re gearing up for a final playoff push. 

The team has three games left to go in their season, including today’s match in Whitby against Darby F.C. The team they’re neck-in-neck with for a playoff spot, as both are tied with other for seventh in points. The teams have identical records of 5-5-2 and Darby F.C. currently holds the tiebreaker with 24 goals, one above the Panthers’ 23. 

The top eight teams make the playoffs, which makes this game critical for both teams. 

Photo Courtesy League1 Ontario

The Panthers are particularly going to be desperate, as they came off a disappointing game against the Woodbridge Strikers at home last week. The Panthers lost 2-1 in a game which featured a 50-minute weather delay at the 70th minute mark with the game tied 1-1. The Strikers would bring the game home after the delay with a goal in the 82nd minute. 

The Strikers improved to 16 points with that win, one behind Darby and North Miss. 

Coach Balta said losing that game was particularly disappointing, as it was the first game the Panthers lost against a team seeded lower than them all season long. It also felt like an opportunity the Panthers let slip away. 

“If we had at least drawn that game, it would have put us in a good position,” said Balta. 

But this is not a time for the Panthers to panic. Balta said that the team watched video yesterday to help prepare for the game. The team is looking to penetrate through a defence that has only given up one goals more goal than the Panthers have, which makes them the sixth most effective defence in the league. (The Panthers are tied for fourth.) 

The North Mississauga Panthers will also have to look out for LeRhone Young, who is their leading scorer with 6 goals on the season. But he’s also been on a bit of a cool streak as of late, only netting once this month in a 3-nil shock victory over Aurora FC. 

Indoor Soccer fans might remember Young for his stint with the Mississauga MetroStars in 2018-2019 playing at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre. 

As for changes in the line-up, Balta said he will starting Navid Rahman for the first time tonight. Navid is the brother of regular North Miss player Adel Rahman. 

The game kicks off tonight in the Whitby Soccer Centre Dome at 7:45 p.m. You can watch the game on live video at www.league1ontario.com

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