The Black Team vs Blue Lightning
It was Black vs Blue in this early season battle. The Black Team was missing Larry and Raghav and without their keeper, they were in tough. They were however bolstered by the unexpected appearances of Nicolas Ress, making his season debut and John Altinian, who Ronalduy claimed would not be playing. These underhanded tactics threw the Lightning off, just a little bit. For their part, the Bolts were missing Scott and Gabe but did welcome back Derek “DC” Chan after missing last week’s game.
The opening minute saw the first goal by Neon Leon as he fired a looping shot from the halfway line that deceived the keeper and dipped in at the last second. TBT pushed forward for the equalizer with Altinian throwing some bombs that didn’t get through The Wall, goalkeeper Kevin Bonner. Mid-way through the first half, Ronalduy struck for his 4th goal of the season to even the match at 1-1. Just before the half ended, the Lightning struck twice in quick succession. First it was Ivan Gojmerac blasting a shot between the keepers legs and then DC putting the ball in the net after a small scramble in front of goal. It was an evenly played first half but the Bolts had the 3-1 lead.
Early in the second half, some great link up play from TBT saw them make 4 quick passes to set up Jeff McCabe who left-footed the ball past the keeper. The game got more intense and as DC was on a partial breakaway, a TBT defender clipped his foot in the middle of his shot. Unfortunately the referee thought it was all ball but from this reporter’s vantage point, it was all foot. Shortly afterwards from a kick-in, Ivan tried to find a surging Julio. Instead, TBT’s defender got a foot on the ball and redirected it into his own net. That was definitely all ball.
With luck on their side, the Bolts kept pushing forward. Vince Castronovo came close on a couple of opportunities, only to be denied by the keeper. DC scored his second off a scramble and then Brad Leufkens added another. A high looping ball over the defender’s head that Brad was able to redirect past the on-rushing keeper. DC then completed his hat trick with his trademark left foot blast into the near side corner. The game finished 7-2 and TBT will be asking…where have you gone Raghav Maddi, your teammates turn their lonely eyes to you, woo-woo-woo. What’s that you say Ronalduy, Rockin’ Rag has left and gone away, hey-hey-hey, hey-hey-hey!
Whitewalkers FC vs Maestros FC
Toronto Champions League is done dipping their toes into this season and we’ve waded into the deeper waters where more is at stake. In the Week 3 Primetime game first-place Maestros took on the Whitewalkers who could vault ahead of them with a victory.
The Whitewalkers were without last season’s POY Dan McNiece who probably had an important dodge-ball game to attend. But that’s what you get when you have an acclaimed two-sport athlete on your team. The Oakland Raiders felt the same way about Bo Jackson I suppose.
While games usually start out slow rookie of the year contender Abdel-Haddi Alnahlawi had a great chance turned away by Whitewalkers goalie Charles Yang. Coming back the other way the Maestros’ Murat Cokgezen stopped a great opportunity by Chaitanya Khanna.
However it set up a corner and John Burinski buried a great inbound pass to put Whitewalkers up 1-0 early.
Whitewalkers continued to apply plenty of pressure throughout the first half to no avail. Theo “The Body” Blanchard was being allowed roam free in the midfield and lob powerful shots at will. Twice Cokgezen made point blank saves off deflections from Blanchard shots. A Burinski shot clanged off the post and ran along the goal line, somehow not crossing it. Blanchard made another run through the middle but Cokgezen stuck his foot out in time. Like a cockroach, the Maestros somehow managed to escape the Whitewalkers’ stomping still alive.
The Whitewalkers pressure finally broke near the end of the first half. The Maestros managed to send a couple of good chances wide of the net. Then a bad turnover left Menemen Metinho all alone with the ball. Yang made the save but the ball ended up directly on Alnahlawi’s feet to slid a shot through Yang’s legs to tie everything up at 1-1.
Despite being outplayed Metinho was still very confident at halftime.
They were just as cocky on the other side of the field.
The action picked up to a fever pitch in the 2nd half as the Whitewalkers could almost taste first place, but the Maestro’s wouldn’t give up their special seat at the table. Yet another Blanchard run results in an out-of-control scramble in Cokgezen’s crease. Christy Gnanapragasam stuffed home a loose ball. Whitewalkers up 2-1.
That lead didn’t last long.
The Maestros forced a corner. After the initial inbounds, the ball popped up in the air and Metinho went for his newly patented spin-o-rama kick (Notice I didn’t go for the easy whirling dervish joke) to tie it up at 2-2.
The action continued up and down the field at such a torrid pace that it’s believed that the referee forgot about the handball rule. A Cokgezen clearing attempt clearly hit Metinho’s arm. No call. This led to some sustained pressure by the Maestros. Alnahlawi was finally allowed some space to move but Yang made the save. The rebound came straight out to Victor Arcentales and with Yang pulled way out of his area it would have seemed to be an easy goal but Burinski put his body (and arm) on the line to block the shot. No call.
Once again the action moved down to the Maestros’ end. With the referee seemingly calling every little infraction (except for handballs) the Whitewalkers were awarded a free kick. Fernando “Ferny” Ayala sent it on net where Cokgezen batted it away right into Gnanapragasam (and his hand) which then deflected into the net. No call. Whitewalkers up 3-2 and time running down.
Maestros pushed everything forward to preserve their first place standing. And while it wasn’t nearly as pretty as last week’s game-winner, I’m sure the Maestros were just as happy with Alnahlawi’s goal to tie it up 3-3. One minute left and its looking like… wait! Whitewalkers Kosta Zabashta alone along the sideline. He rifles a shot that just. Curls. Wide.