1. CROATIA v. OLYMPIANS IN
PLAYOFF FINAL (Oct. 2nd.)
2. TORONTO OLYMPIANS CHASING
THE TREBLE (Sept. 29th.)
1. CROATIA v. OLYMPIANS IN PLAYOFF FINAL
In Friday night's semi-finals, Toronto Croatia and Toronto Olympians won their way through to the CPSL 1999 Playoff Final to be played Saturday afternoon (October 2nd.) at Oshawa Civic Stadium, kick-off 5:00 p.m.
In the first game, Toronto Croatia took an early lead through Ivica Jelic in just the sixth minute as he converted a neat flick-on from Tomi Granic. However, the game was probably settled in the two minutes before half-time. First, Croatia were awarded a free kick just outside the penalty area and Josip Draganic curled the ball around the defensive wall and into the corner of the net to give Croatia a 2 - 0 lead. Then, Glen Shields were reduced to ten men when Agostino Vaglica was ejected for head-butting an opponent.
In the second half, both sides had a player ejected for an incident in the 60th. minute and Glen Shields were further reduced to only eight men as Mike Glasgow argued the point too much with the referee and received his marching orders as well. With a two-man advantage, Croatia pushed forward and increased their lead to 3 - 0 in the 71st. minute as Josip Draganic converted a penalty for his second goal of the game.
Glen Shields were reduced to only seven men in the 75th. minute as Paul Hillman received his second yellow card of the game and was ejected. Croatia then increased their lead to 4 - 0 as Czeslaw Zajac scored in the 79th. minute and Robert Mandekic made it 5 - 0 with a goal in the 82nd. minute. Glen Shields got some consolation with goals from Fitzroy Powell in the 83rd. minute and Marco Antonucci in the 88th. minute to make the final score 5 - 2 in favour of Toronto Croatia.
In the second semi-final, Toronto Olympians faced off against London City. Although leading goal-scorer Eddy Berdusco sat out the game due to an injury, Olympians have many other players who can score goals as London soon found out as Gus Kouzmanis scored in just the 10th. minute. Olympians increased their lead to 2 - 0 in the 33rd. minute as a glancing header from Phil Capporella found the net.
Second half scoring was restricted to penalty kicks. Gus Kouzmanis completed his hat-trick with penalty kick conversions in the 72nd. and 85th. minutes before London got on the scoreboard in the 87th. minute as Semir Mesanovic blasted home a penalty kick to make the final score 4 - 1 for Toronto Olympians.
The Playoff Final, therefore, is a repeat of the League Cup Final which was played last Sunday and won by Toronto Olympians 3 - 0 over Toronto Croatia.
2. TORONTO OLYMPIANS CHASING THE TREBLE
Toronto Olympians are chasing their version of the Triple Crown (or the Treble in soccer terminology). In fact, they are presently in the same position as last year. The League Championship and the League Cup are safely in their Trophy Cabinet leaving just the third leg - the Playoff Championship to go.
Last year they easily won their way through the two-leg semi-final stage and faced St. Catharines Roma Wolves in the one-game Playoff Final. St. Catharines were runners-up to Toronto Olympians in both the League and the League Cup and were the only team to challenge the Olympians during the year - three times holding them to a tie in St. Catharines. However, Olympians were unbeaten for the year and were heavily favoured to claim the Playoff Championship as well.
The early part of the game suggested that an upset was possible as St. Catharines shocked the Olympians by taking a lead through Keith Moore in the 3rd. minute and holding the lead until half-time. However, as the second half progressed, the tables seemed to turn in favour of the Olympians as they scored the equaliser in the 58th. minute through Eddy Berdusco and then went ahead with what most observers felt was the winning goal in the 83rd. minute, again through Eddy Berdusco.
However, St. Catharines came back and tied the game in the 88th. minute with a goal from Gary McGuchan to send the game into sudden death overtime. No-one could score the 'Golden Goal' so the game had to be decided on penalty kicks. After remaining undefeated all season, Toronto Olympians eventually lost on the final kick of the season as a Dino Perri save gave the Playoff Championship to St. Catharines.
This year's format for the Playoffs is slightly different with single game semi-finals and a single-game final. The Playoff are being hosted by Oshawa Flames at Oshawa Civic Stadium this coming weekend. The semi-finals are on Friday evening - Glen Shields Sun Devils play Toronto Croatia at 7:00 p.m. and Toronto Olympians play London City at 9:00 p.m. The two winning semi-finalists play in the final on Saturday, October 2nd. at 5:00 p.m.
As well as claiming the one trophy that eluded them last year, the Olympians are hoping to extend their enviable record as Canada's most successful professional sports team over the past two years. With two games (potentially) left in their season, they currently have a two-year playing record of 45 wins, 4 ties and only the 1 loss (on penalty kicks). They have yet to be beaten in a 90-minute game!