By Dan Smeenk

Coming home for the first time this year armed with the weapons of experienced players meant something of a return to form for the North Mississauga Soccer Club Panthers League1 Ontario women’s team on Saturday night. 

The Panthers lost 2-1 in their home opener to Toronto-based DeRo United at Paramount Fine Foods Centre field in Mississauga. But despite the outcome, the Panthers controlled possession during large portions of the game and outshot DeRo United 6-3 in the first half and 7-4 during the entire game, which they had not done all year.  

Panthers’ head coach Judy Tjanetis said that she was happy of her team’s performance. 

“We had a very good performance except for the first five to 10 minutes,” Tjanetis said during halftime. “Defensively we’re really compact, when we get the ball we’re keeping it and we’re moving the ball with limited touches.”

After a slow start and a quick fourth minute goal from DeRo United, the Panthers’ Luba Sulypka scored the Panthers’ goal in the 43rdminute, blasting a shot from just outside the box for her and her team’s first goal of the year. 

Their Toronto opponents then took the lead on a penalty shot in the 64thminute, which they held on to give them the win, their third in three games this year. 

The Panthers rebounded with a competitive performance after two lopsided losses on the road, first in a 6-0 loss to the Woodbridge Warriors and a 13-0 loss to the OSU Force, a team based in southern Ottawa. 

The losses were in part explained by the fact that Mississauga was missing several players – including returning starters Alicia Levy as well as Sandra and Carla Briscoe. The team is still adding full-time League1 players, while utilizing players from the U17, U21 and OWSL squads.   

DeRo United coach Marko Milanovic said he knew that in large part not to take the results of those previous two games too seriously and that he knew his team would be in for a competitive match.

“I knew they were struggling with numbers in the last game,” he said. “I know they’re a much better side than that.”

But despite the improvement in performance, Tjanetis also said there were still ways to go from a loss to a win, which they hope to get this Wednesday when they play against at home against Durham United.

“We have to work on lasting the whole game,” she said. “We have to work on our fitness levels and finishing [when we get chances].”

Couldn’t catch the game? The full match stream is available here

GO PANTHERS!