Mississauga News: Olympians, Croatia Secure Playoff Berths


Croatia, Olympians secure CPSL playoff berths

Sep 20, 2002

Both of Mississauga's Canadian Professional Soccer League (CPSL) teams have clinched a spot in next month's league championship tournament, thanks to the Mississauga Olympians' 4-0 victory over the St. Catharines Roma on Wednesday.

Played in St. Catharines, the loss ends Roma's season with 24 points (6-7-6), edging them out of the four-team battle for the Western Conference's three playoff positions and squashing all hopes of defending their championship title from last year.

The Toronto Croatia lead the conference with 28 points and have an 8-4-4 record with three games remaining. The Olympians, with 26 points (7-5-5, two games left), and the Hamilton Thunder, with 25 points (7-5-4, three games left) are right behind.

Forward Hayden Fitzwilliams led the Olympians' attack Wednesday with a hat trick while forward Daman Basak scored the final goal. Goalkeeper Johnander Rossatto recorded the shutout.

Last Friday, the Croatia destroyed London City's slim chances of gaining a playoff spot with a 2-0 win at Memorial Park. Forward Josip Juric, the team's big midseason pickup from Croatia, scored both goals and played his best game with the team.

The first came at the 23rd minute-mark when Croatia midfielder Mario Kulus skipped a corner kick to Juric for an easy tap-in past goalkeeper Actin Ruci.

The second came in the 59th minute, when City defender Jermaine Shakes misguidedly attempted to clear the ball, with a header deep in his own zone. The ball went skyward, allowing Croatia forward Mladen Dikic to take possession of the ball. He made a cross-pass to Juric in front of the net for the goal.

Juric scored two more goals in Sunday's 6-1 road win over the North York Astros. Midfielder Hugo Alstitud also scored two goals while Velimir Crljen and Dikic each added one goal.

The team has improved its play under interim head coach Drago Santic, with two wins in league action and a tie during the League Cup tournament.

"When he comes into the change room he makes us believe we're the best team, no matter who we play against," Dikic said, who played when Santic coached the Croatia to a Puma League championship six years ago.

In turn, Santic has been impressed by his now inspired squad. "They're doing well, they're finally playing professional," he said. "I've told them to play like a family and not fight. We need to play together to be successful and we're doing that."

Last Wednesday, the Croatia tied the Olympians 1-1 in the first of the two-game League Cup quarterfinals at Memorial Park. Croatia midfielder Nik Andrijevic saved his team in the final moments of the game when he scored off a penalty kick. Olympian midfielder Shawn Faria had opened the scoring early in the first half.

The two teams will play again on Sunday at Memorial Park (1 p.m.) with the winner advancing to the League Cup championship tournament in London next weekend. As for regular season games, the Croatia visit the Toronto Supra today (8:30 p.m.) while the Olympians visit the Vaughan Sun Devils on Oct. 4 (8 p.m.).

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