July 18 – When it rains, it pours, the old saying goes. The North Mississauga League1 Ontario Panthers certainly showed that in their last game, heating up their cold front seemingly at the snap of a finger.
The Panthers won their last game with a staggering 9-0 score line against Toronto Skillz F.C. in Scarborough – the largest margin of victory in League1 Ontario Men’s play this year. This was a team coming off three losses in four games, all to teams in the top five of League1 Ontario standings.
Now they face the Woodbridge Strikers, a team just four points behind them with four games left on the season. Coach Balta knows that in a league where the top eight teams make the playoffs, every game matters for a team tied in seventh place, as the Panthers are.
He also knows the Strikers are going to put up a fight.
“Whoever they’ve played, it’s been close,” said Balta. “They’re a big, physical team. We just have to continue to get better. We have to get better at scoring goals, and then defensively just keep doing what we’re doing.”
Balta’s statement reflects the score lines of the Panthers all year. Before the blowout victory against Toronto Skillz, the Panthers scored as many goals (13) as they allowed. But the Panthers have not allowed that many, which has often kept them in games.
Even during their losing streak, where they lost 2-1, 1-0, 3-2 and 3-1, in most of these games, these were games that were tied well into the second half against teams like second place Oakville Blue Devils, first place Vaughan Azzurri, third place Alliance United and fifth place Master’s Futbol, a team Balta called the toughest they’ve faced all year.
That stout defence is going to have to come against Woodbridge players like Mathew Santos (Canisius College, NCAA D1) and Tyrell Rayne, who have eight of their team’s 18 goals this year.
The hope now is that the offensive explosion against can be more normal for the Panthers. Darren Gertiesingh and Rahim Thorpe both had hat tricks in the Panthers’ last game and Jordan Prescod had another to lead the team with four goals this year.
“We were able to move the ball up well and get behind them a little bit,” said Balta. “We worked a lot on kicking the ball in the fast lane.”
The aim and hope now for fans, players and staff, is that they can continue to lay more shots into Woodbridge’s net at home.
As for line-up changes, Balta said Adam Boafo is a game time decision for this game due to injury.
Notes on the Match:
Woodbridge Strikers (4W-6L-1D, 13pts, 10th place). Have scored 18 and conceded 16. Coming into this game they are 2-2-1 over their last five matches, while on the road for the season they have a 1-3-1 record, with their draw against Sigma FC on the same ground shared with the Panthers on June 27th.
North Mississauga Panthers (5W-4L-2D, 17pts, 7th place). Have scored 22 while conceding 13. Over the last five matches (2-3-0), while they are 1-2-1 at Paramount Fine Foods Centre.
Pre-Match Activities: Part of the Season Ticket Holder Package, we will be hosting the Pre-Match Scouting Report – how we prepared for this match with the players, and how we set up the team for tonight’s match.
Half-Time: Presentation of the Supporters Cup to League1 Ontario from the Rogue Street Elite Supports Group. The trophy will be awarded to the team with the best regular season on an annual basis.
Post-Match: Chalk Talk Q&A with League1 Men’s Coaching and Managing Staff, plus player appearances in conjunction with the Sauga City Collective Supporters Group Pub Night. Green Goose Pub (5165 Dixie Rd)