By: Teru Ikeda and Kajan Thiruthanikasalam
SCARBOROUGH, ONT.- This season-opening rivalry matchup between the Centennial Colts and the Seneca Sting men's soccer teams was as advertised. A lot of back-and-forth action, seven yellow cards in total, and fans from both teams expressing their displeasure at any call that didn't go their way.
Despite all of that, Centennial (0-0-1) and Seneca (0-0-1) played to a 0-0 draw in front of a packed crowd, Colts and Sting fans alike, at the Progress Turf Field.
"We were nervous in the first half; some of our touches were off and some of our movement wasn't what we normally do," Julian Carr, Colts head coach said, of the rather tense atmosphere that surrounded this game. "It was a veteran-laden squad and I think they just didn't want to wet the bed in the first game of the season."
Both goalies were solid in net as Centennial's Chim Oneyeka and Seneca's Khedar Caesar-Thompson each earned clean sheets. The Colts outpaced the Sting in shots (14-8) and shots on goal (6-3).
The story of this game were the numerous opportunities on goal that the Colts simply could not finish. The ones of notice were a penalty kick that was stopped and a shot at point blank range off a cross near the end of the game that went wide.
Despite Centennial's inability to finish, there were a lot of positives to take away.
"We moved the ball well, we kept our shape, we kept our formation defensively, and we created opportunities," Carr said.
The pace was fast and furious to start off the game as both teams looked to find seams in the opponent's defense. But aside from a running stop by Oneyeka on the Sting's Alhasan Robah in the 19th minute and Colts striker Tristen Wilson being stopped by Caesar-Thompson in the 31st, the score remained at zero heading into intermission.
The shots on goal then began to pile up on both sides as Robah and Wilson again were turned back on shots in the 55th minute. Wilson almost gave Centennial the lead in the 74th minute but to Caesar-Thompson and Seneca's relief, the ball hit the crossbar.
The Colts then had a glorious chance to take the lead after Liam Cox was taken down in the box in the 81st minute. But Caesar-Thompson was up to the task, stopping Cox on the penalty attempt and keeping the game scoreless.
Centennial then had another massive opportunity in the 90th minute as a cross went past everyone to the left foot of Wilson with the left side of the net open. However, Wilson shot the point blank attempt wide, effectively ending the game.
Carr says that although the result was a tie, this was a missed opportunity to get the full three points, and that finishing their chances on goal will be key the rest of the season.
"There's a saying in football circles that the soccer gods punish you for every opportunity that you don't take," Carr said. "At some point, that game might come back to haunt us."
TOP 3 PERFORMERS OF THE GAME
Chim Oneyeka (GK)
Steven Mirabal (M)
Ostap Hamarnyk (D)
Khedar Caesar-Thompson (GK)
Drai Gordon (D)
Diljodh Singh (D)
CATCH OUR NEXT GAME
The Colts head up north for a weekend back-to-back against the Algonquin Thunder this Friday at 8:15 pm and the next day at 3:15 pm against the St. Lawrence Vikings.