The North Mississauga Soccer Club’s men’s team keep on finding ways to win, this time with a tense 1-0 road win against FC London last Saturday.
The team has gone undefeated in its first three games of the season, with the London win giving them two wins and one draw. North Mississauga Panthers’ striker Tristan Watson was named Man of the Match and the Panthers’ were led to victory by a first-half goal by centre back Saleman Salim, who made his Panthers debut on Saturday.
After the first half, the pace of the game changed, with London having the greater share of possession and chances. The team then had to rely on goaltender Jared Maloney, who led the team to victory in part through three big second-half saves, including a one-on-one save in the dying seconds of the game which Mississauga assistant coach Cormac Cleary called “stunning.”
“As I made the big save at the end of the game, adrenaline took over,”said Maloney. “I realized the importance of that save because the ref blew the whistle moments after. It truly is an amazing feeling.”
The save was one of three Maloney made in the second half which were made to preserve the Panthers’ undefeated streak. Two of the saves were off one-on-one rushes and one of the saves came off a free kick.
Both Clearly and Panthers head coach Aleks Balta said the team’s ability to keep the ball out of the net has been an important part of their success so far, both through the team’s defence and goalkeeping. The Panthers have only given up one goal in their three games so far this year, which is a pace Balta said he hopes to keep up.
“As much as I love to play beautiful football, defending is what gives you success,” said Balta. “It starts from there.”
Winning has rubbed off well on the team, especially for newcomers such as a Salim, who also plays soccer at Buffalo State, The State University of New York. On top of the competitive soccer that exists in League1, Salim also appreciates what he calls a more “finesse game” in Canada, rather than the more aggressive game he sees in the United States.
“Playing with the Panthers is fun,” said Salim. “The training sessions are very competitive, and everybody is playing for a spot on the roster for game day, so you can’t slack. It’s a good environment … and the coaching staff is very helpful.”
The Panthers play their next game on the road Saturday, May 25th against ProStars FC, a club based in Brampton. Despite team’s success so far, however, the staff knows not to be complacent.
“For us against Brampton it’ll be really getting out of the gates early,” said Cleary. “If we could get one or two goals early, it’s really going to make a big difference.”
The full match can be seen here: