Hamilton Spectator: Thunder Rolling into Montreal & Ottawa with Confidence
July 24, 2002

Hamilton Thunder rolling into Montreal and Ottawa with confidence

Hamilton Thunder head east later this week for a gruelling Canadian Professional Soccer League doubleheader against two powerhouse opponents.

They visit Montreal Dynamites on Saturday, then face last year's league champions, the Ottawa wizards, in the nation's capital on Sunday.

"The trip will be hard, but we are going with confidence and the necessary respect into the weekend," says Thunder head coach Marko Maschke.

"Montreal and Ottawa are two really strong teams. Both of them are very physically teams, with a lot of good individual players. We have to be fresh and focused on both days.

"It is also a very new experience for all of us, playing back-to-back against these two teams. We have no experience with them, but they also don't have any with us. Their only advantage is that they will play home."

Maschke, who will take 24 players on the road, is confident the weekend will be a success. "If we can continue to play like we did against the Olympians and London, I am confident we will get the points."

He was referring to Hamilton's last two games. On Friday night, the Thunder broke London City's six-game winning streak with a 4-2 victory. Prior to that, Hamilton had beaten Mississauga Olympians in a hard-fought 1-0 match.

In London, the Thunder overcame a 1-0 half-time deficit with goals by Mark Wagenaar on a header and Miles O'Connor on a shot that was deflected by a London defender. Ian Bennett nailed the ball from in front of the net in the 83rd minute for what would prove to be the game-winner, and O'Connor scored an insurance goal on a breakaway in the 87th minute.

The Thunder improved their record to 4-2-1, and have moved into third place in the CPSL Western Conference.

The team is feeling the bite of the injury bug, however. Top goal-scorer Jerry Cipriani continues to suffer from a pulled hamstring, while midfielder John Sozio is treating a foot injury. Defenders Fabian Pagani and Andrew Seuradge are both fighting the flu.

In addition, midfielder Ricardo Marquez is suspended for the Montreal game after his third yellow card.

At the same time, four top Thunder prospects are returning to the team after a stint with Calgary in the A-League. Matthew O'Connor, Orlin Chalmers and Salvatore Borgh are due back tomorrow while goalkeeper Wojtek Zarzycki is staying out west a week longer to play his sixth game with the Storm.

"We are very happy that we got the opportunity to send the players to Calgary," Maschke says.

"This was an important experience for their individual development. Some of them will return to the A-league sooner or later. All of them proved themselves."

The Thunder's next home game is July 31 at Brian Timmis Stadium, the first leg of the opening round of the league cup against St. Catharines Roma Wolves. Game time is 8:30 p.m.

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