From the CPSL site.
Croatia Wins Two in a
Experience won out against youth as the explosive Toronto Croatia prevailed 2-0 on away turf, spoiling the 2000 debut of the North York Astros at Esther Shiner Stadium on Sunday.
Croatia returns this season with an identifiable lineup than the one which finished second in the League's standings; Primus Cup and the playoff final. Meanwhile, North York's meager two wins in 1999 required the club to overhaul its look.
Toronto (2-0) took advantage of its cohesiveness and owned the territorial play through the first hour but couldn't beat the Astros' new keeper, Piotr Libicz. In stopping five shots, Libicz saved his best efforts against Croatian forward Leo Marasovic when twice the goaltender came off his line to deny marasovic in a 1-vs-1 situation.
For all of Libicz's brilliance, Croatia scored in the 69th minute with a soft marker. After Tomislav Granic's header hit the bar, the ball bounced directly to Josep Draganic. His soft shot eluded one North York defender and then trickled harmlessly through the legs of Libicz on the goalline.
Ten minutes later Croatia iced the game on a well-placed through ball by Paul Moore that was finished by Marasovic, his fourth goal of Croatia's five this season.
"They are a lot stronger team this year. Last year, in the back, they were a lot slower and a lot smaller" Marasovic claimed after netting a hat trick against the Astros in 1999.
As Croatia has started to unleash some of its offensive capabilities, the North York Astros are just beginning to become acquainted with one another. Nine of the starting eleven Astros weren't with the team last year as the squad has completely revamped its franchise after 1999 when the team finished last in the standings.
One of the few returnees is the captain, Alex Nardi, who has been with the team throughout its three-year stint in the CPSL. The team's leading scorer last year, Nardi offered North York its best scoring chances including a clever little touch from 30 metres that beat Croatian keeper George Azcurra, but not the bar, in the 73rd minute.
Understanding the team is undergoing a complete overhaul, Nardi wasn't disappointed with the result.
"Especially when we had an opportunity to win or tie, this effort wasn't bad. This is going to happen until we get to know each other during the next five or six games."
Net minder Azcurra earned his clean sheet with five saves including a brilliant theft against Felipe Periera from in close, diving to his left near the end of the first half to keep the game on the level.
Coincidentally, these teams meet again in League Play in two days on Wednesday at Etobicoke's Centennial Stadium for an 8:00 p.m. kickoff.
For further information, please contact the CPSL Director of Operations, Christopher Bellamy at (905)856-5439.
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