October 11, 2004 CPSL Rogers Cup Finals Vaughan Shooters vs Toronto Croatia (from CPSL website)
TORONTO CROATIA CPSL CHAMPS
Leo Marasovic (20) of Toronto Croatia led his team with two goals in the 4-0 championship win over Vaughan Shooters
Toronto Croatia defeated Vaughan Shooters 4-0 for the championship of the Canadian Professional Soccer League at Victoria Park in Brampton Thanksgiving Day Monday.
Led by midfielder Leo Marasovic with two second half goals at 49 and 59 minutes, a third from Marco Milicevic two minutes from time and fourth goal by Antonijo Zupan just before the final whistle gave Toronto Croatia its fourth major title since the club was formed in 1956.
Vaughan Shooters had the best opportunities to take a first half lead, but failed to find the net and it was 0-0 at the break. Toronto Croatia pressed in the second half and despite playing their third game in four days, they looked superior as the game became more physical.
Vaughan’s Jason De Thomasis was ejected five minutes from time for serious foul play and Toronto Croatia goalkeeper George Azcurra was also shown the red card, for violent conduct.
Toronto Croatia defeated Brampton Hitmen 3-1 in a wild card game on Friday and shutout Hamilton Thunder, 2-0 in the semi-final Saturday for the team’s ninth game without a loss going back to September 2.
Vaughan Shooters earned a berth in the championship final game with a 4-1 victory over Toronto Supra.
Toronto Croatia previously won the Canadian title as Metros-Croatia in 1976, on its way to winning the North American championship and this was followed by professional soccer titles under the present banner in the National Soccer League in 1992 and the Puma League in 1995.
Velmir Crljn, player coach of Toronto Croatia attributed his team’s victory to fitness and not giving in to a younger team with pace. “We just didn’t give up despite playing so much recently, and it paid off,” he said. Crljn returned to the team at the beginning of September and it was following this that the struggling Mississauga-based team began a climb up the Western Conference standings to finish second and into the playoffs.
Tony De Thomasis, coach of Vaughan Shooters considered the opposition well organized. “But had we taken our first half chances, things could have been different,” he explained after the game.
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