September 12, 2006 USL Toronto Lynx season wrap up (from Lynx media release)


The Toronto Lynx wrapped up their tenth season in style, with a 5-0 thrashing of the visiting Minnesota Thunder on Sunday evening at the cozy confines of Centennial Park Stadium. Striker Kevin Jeffrey electrified the crowd with a stunning hat-trick, and the Lynx extended their team-record undefeated streak at home to 10 games. Jeffrey earned the USL First Division Player of the Week Award for his feat, his third appearance on the squad this season. The Trinidadian was joined on the USL-1 Team of the Week by midfielder Jamie Dodds, and 2006 Toronto Lynx MVP Rick Titus, who earned the honour for an unprecedented fourth time. The win capped off a torrid two-month stretch of soccer for the Lynx which saw them lose only 3 times in 17 USL-1 First Division matches, while advancing to the final of the CSL Open Canada Cup. The late season rally, however, wasnít enough for the Lynx to overcome a poor start, and the team ended up in 10th place in the league standings, a mere six points (two wins) from a post-season place and possible play-off glory.


Sundayís game capped off a wild five-month odyssey for the Lynx, wrapping up their historic tenth season in the USL First Division. After an extremely busy off-season, which saw Head Coach Duncan Wilde return to the helm after a one-season sabbatical, and a major overhaul of the roster (only 11 players returned from the 2005 squad, which struggled to a 3-17-8 record and a last-place finish), the club took the field in April with plenty of promise, but struggled out of the gate and stumbled to an 0-9-2 start. The club was competitive in all of the games, but were consistently unable to score and tallied only 2 scores in those first 11 matches. Key off-season signing Tony Menezes was injured while training with the national team in Florida in May, and was lost for most of the remainder of the season, while veteran captain Joe Mattacchione was also injured early in the season also and missed a long stretch of play as well. The Lynx finished second behind Montreal and ahead of Vancouver for the 4th time in the 5 year history of the Voyageur Cup. The Lynx also participated in the Open Canada Cup for the First time and have reached the final which will be played in the next few weeks.

The tide began to turn in early June, with the addition of two high-powered offensive talents, USL-1 veteran sniper Kevin Jeffrey and Damien Pottinger. The club broke their maiden and won their first match on July 5 with a 1-0 win over Vancouver on Youth Day in front of a large crowd, and the team never looked back, winning 6 of their next nine games with only loss during the stretch. Not only was the club winning, they played a spectacularly entertaining style of play, always pressing forward and wowing the crowds with their grit and tenacity. However, the late-season push was not enough to move the Lynx into a playoff spot, falling just short. Along the way, the Lynx tied the regular season champion Montreal Impact twice and second-place Rochester three times. Coach Wilde was inspired by his teamís performance. "You have to look long and hard to find a better team in the USL First Division right now." said Wilde. "This is the best team I've coached since I came to Canada and I'm extremely proud of what we've achieved this season, especially in light of our poor start. I don't think there is any team in the whole league which would want to face us in the playoffs, if we had been able to qualify."

The highlight of the 2006 season for many local fans was the visit of superstar striker Romario to Centennial Park Stadium on May 26 with his Miami FC club. The Brazilian legend did not disappoint, scoring the only goal in a game played in a steady rain in front of a huge School Day crowd. The School Day game annually caps off the Toronto Lynx School program where the Lynx players deliver soccer clinics and lifestyle presentations to eager students throughout the school year.

Excellence on the field was rewarded by both the USL and the Lynx. Ten Lynx players earned spots on the weekly USL-1 Team of the Week, with Jeffrey and Jamie Dodds each earning Player of the Week Honours. Dodds also represented the Lynx in the USL-1 All-Star Game held in mid-July in Cary, North Carolina, a 0-0 tie against English club Sheffield Wednesday. Dodds earned the Lynx Best Offensive Player award for his play, while Andres Arango was named Best Defensive Player. Rookie Matt Palleschi wowed the fans with his determined and flamboyant play and was voted Fan Favourite, while perennial favourite Chris Williams earned the Public Relations Award for his work in schools and the community. Veteran defender Rick Titus took his game to a new level this year, and earned the Most Valuable Player award for his outstanding season.


The Lynx were once again very prominent off -the- field in various communities throughout the summer. Through the club's corporate sponsor, Airmiles, the team debuted the Air Miles' " Way To Play" program, which took the Lynx out into various soccer communities in southern Ontario ( Orangeville, Burlington, Guelph, Markham and Beaches) to deliver dynamic soccer fests where young players and fans participated in training sessions, cilnics, meet and greet, exhibition matches and other exciting activities.

Teachers and Soccer Coaches once again were regaled with a complimentary full day soccer clinic through the Lynx Corporate Sponsor, Tim Hortons, to enhance their coaching skills. The Lynx continued their generous ways through partnering with many community groups, such as Big Brother and Big Sisters, the YMCA and the Toronto Police, to mention just a few.

The Toronto Police partnership continued building on the " For Kicks" program begun in 2005. The program delivers soccer clinics and camps to at- risk youth throughout the GTA by police officers, Lynx players and coaching staff which was capped off on Emergency Services Day with a tournament gala, awards and outing to a Lynx match.


The Toronto Lynx Academy continues to grow with program excellence year round. Elite players once again demonstrated their tremendous talent playing in the Super Y League, elite youth development league under the USL. The Lynx fielded four boys' and two girls' teams which continued to impress when the U16 Boys qualified for the Super-Y League North American Finals by winning their Midwest Division against fierce competition. The finals will be held in November in Tampa, Florida, and the Jr Lynx will look to bring home the clubís first championship. The Director of the Academy, Duncan Wilde, will be holding trials in the coming months for all of the junior teams, including U15, U16, U17 and U20 levels for both girls and boys, for the 2007 season.

While the Lynx First team was unable to rally and make the playoffs, a new generation of stars began to emerge, led by Palleschi, midfielder Gordon Chin and defender Marko Bedenikovic. Combined with the repeated success of the Lady Lynx team which made the playoffs again only to bow out to Ottwa which once again lost in the final for the North American Championship and the budding promise of the Super-Y League programs, the future looks very bright for the Lynx, in 2007 and beyond!


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