White Eagles win 2008 CSL Championship
|News and Reviews By Aldwyn McGill|
To see other sections go —>To see Past News articles go here –>
Serbian White Eagles win 2008 CSL Championship
After two unsuccessful tries in 2006 and 2007, the Serbian White Eagles of Toronto discovered that the third time was a charm after they stifled the explosive Trois Rivieres Attak of Quebec to win the 2008 CSL Championship 2-1 on penalty kicks last Sunday.
The White Eagles which had two of the premier players from the Caribbean Community in Caswain Mason and Darrell Gomez reached the CSL Championship final after defeating North York Astros 2-1 and Italia Shooters (the CSL International division winner) 3-0. Trois Rivieres Attak advanced to the final by defeating St Catharines Wolves 2-0 and Portugal FC 7-0 respectively.
This year’s final was played at the Ester Shiner Stadium and as the pro Serbians crowd made their way into the stadium, the temperature was dropping dramatically as the wind intensified and the clouds darkened. At one point during the game the wind blew the advertising billboards around the field like paper while momentarily lifting the front of the eastern goal post about a foot off the ground during the first half.
However in spite of the weather the show went on as planned and as the game started it was quite obvious to me after several minutes that the Serbians were more comfortable in the in climate weather. Maybe it could have been due to the fact that the Serbians had more at stake and was determine not to disappoint their fans after getting a third chance to bring home the bacon (championship).
As the game progressed it was very difficult to pick one team without stalling and complimenting the other, since it was quite evident that the Trois Rivieres Attak had a very talented team and although the White Eagles was having the better of the exchanges there was this sense that if the White Eagle made a mistake, the Attak would capitalize and may them pay.
With the game tight and testy, the teams seemed to be fighting more against the elements than their opponent tactics. The heavy downpour of rain combine with a few lightening surges managed to blow out some of the floodlights on the northern side of the stadium and after announcing the reset of the stadium lights during the half, the stadium staff wisely decided against trying to mess with Mother Nature and allow the game to continue.
The second half started just like the first with the Serbian White Eagles on the offensive while the Attak countered to remind the Serbs that they were not going to go down easy. This trend was the story of the game and with the pace of the game quickening the White Eagles took the lead on a goal scored at the 61 minute by midfielder Alex Braletic,
The Eagles could not hold on to their lead as Attak forward Nicolas Lesage returned the favor to tie the game 1-1 just as the Serbian players and supporters was beginning to see the light. However the lights for the Serbians was now dwindling and as the game went into overtime, the Serbian fans were reacting with loud jeers to any unfavorable calls by the referee.
Then at the 96 minute the Serbian jeers changed to cheers when their marquee player Sasa Viciknez scored with a bullet of a shot off a free kick, that cannon off the cross bar and rebound over the Attak goal line to give the White Eagles a 2-1 lead.
Trois-Rivieres Attak bounced back as their midfielder Jean-Phillipe Etienne made well on a failed Serbian defensive clearance with a well hit shot one minute before the first half of overtime. The ball found its way through the crowded Serbian goal mouth and had the Serbian fans scratching their heads with the score tied 2-2.
The second 15 minutes of over time produced no additional scoring as the game went into penalty kicks. The Attak played the second half of overtime with 10 men after Ibrahim Baldeh was ejected for an ill advised tackle that draw a second yellow card.
With the Eagles kicking first the trend of the game continued as the Serbians could not convert two penalty kicks in succession to put away their opponent the trailing and failing Trois Rivieres Attak kickers. At the end it was the Attak that self destructed when their 5th kicker missed by hitting the top of the cross bar as the ball took forever to fall into the field of play. At last the Serbian White Eagles had the 2-1 win from the penalty spot as they celebrated their first CSL Championship with their supporters.
T&T player excelled for Croatia in ’07’ CSL Championship
Toronto Croatia won the Canadian Soccer League (CSL) Championship 2007 after they defeated Serbian White Eagles 4-1 in the first game of the adapted two game weekend CSL Championship series, and held the Serbians to a scoreless tie in the second game. Both games were played at Ester Shiner Stadium.
With Toronto’s finest in attendance, the on-field behavior of the players was not what I considered to be of a professional nature. The players on both team (whether in the tackle or not), were appealing and wining to all four officials on every tackle in an effort to get a man advantage through ejection and that is not what is considered to sportsmanlike conduct.
To avoid a clash of fans the games were also played with each team having their supporters for only one of the games due to previous incidents between the two teams.
The CSL reported that the two-game two day championship game was decided due to concerns for safety after two regular season league games in 2006 between Toronto Croatia and Serbian White Eagles had a clashed of fans at Lamport Stadium in Toronto and Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton where there was considerable damage to the facility.
The first game with Croatia fans only, started with the cheers out weighing the jeers as Croatia took an early lead on a header by Bustamante at 13 minute mark. The Serbians move down the field on the ensuing touch off and tied the game with a looping volley by defender Dragorad Milicevic from way outside. Croatia responded and struck again from a left footed bullet from 30 yards by forward Peter Curic put Toronto Croatia 2-1. In an effort to stay ahead Toronto Croatia scored their third by Bustamante to give Croatia a 3-1 lead at the interval.
The second half was a disaster in terms of the level of play as the game was played in gusting winds. The Serbians had the better of the exchanges but for the most part the play was ragged due to the conditions and no support for the underdog or losing team.
Things got worst for White Eagles as Trinidad and Tobago national player and Croatia stand out Hayden Fitzwilliams, scored a late goal to give Toronto Croatia a strong 4-1 hold on the series heading into the second game.
The Sunday game was played in cold but sunny 7 degree temperatures, before an almost sold out Ester Shiner stadium of Serbian supporters. The game started with Serbian White Eagles in search of at least a 3 goal margin victory to set up overtime and a chance at the championship. Their overwhelming number of supporters, high powered offense, and the fact that anything is possible in sport was the only thing the Serbians had to bank on because the law of averages says that a 3 goal margin in soccer is almost insurmountable.
Croatia came out with a defensive set and style of play that had the White Eagles scored early or took the lead before the half it would have made the game a very interesting match. However it was not to be and as much as the Serbs dominated the game Croatia flankers were up to the task defensively. The standout in this regards was Hayden Fitzwilliams who was the driving forced behind Toronto Croatia 2007 soccer season success.
It has been reported that Fitzwilliams could be on the move since there are several professional teams (at a higher level) that are interested in his services. Hayden Fitzwilliams played for Trinidad and Tobago against Northern Ireland in a friendly and against the Dominican Republic during the Soca Warriors 2005 World Cup qualifiers. He has also represented T&T against Antigua, Cuba and Guadeloupe in the 2003 Gold Cup. In Canada he has played for Toronto Olympians (01) and Metro Lions (02-04) before joining Toronto Croatia for the 2005 season.
Trinidad and Tobago-born 18 year old Anthony Adur, the youngest player on the field scored the lone goal at the 62 minute mark to help Italia Shooter upset Serbian White Eagles to win the Canadian Soccer League championship. The game was played at Ester Shiner Stadium on Sunday before a close to sell out crowd that comprised of predominantly Serbian supporters.
The game was a see saw battle with lots of action and the early surprise was that Italia Shooters was holding their own against the powerful Serbians attack. The fact that the Shooters had the better scoring opportunities after a 0-0 first half was good for the game. This was the Shooters fourth attempt at the league championship in as many years and to sum up their thinking they were of the opinion that “something had to give” this season.
They defeated arguably the #2 teams in the Toronto Croatia to get to the final and by their tenacity in this game it also appeared that they were well prepared. Tactically Italia made adjustments to their team that seem questionable but did work. One of these moves was moving their offensive player and 2005 League MVP (T&T born) Desmond Humphrey to the central defense position where he constructed their offensive plays by spraying long precise passes to both flankers in the first half. This strategy seemed to confuse the Serbians coaching staff and caught their defense by surprise on a number of occasions in the first half.
The second half was similar to the first with Serbians turning up the offense a notch and Italia using the counter attack more frequently. It was from one of those counter attacks that Anthony Adur broke free and unleash a volley from close up to give Italia the lead they never relinquished. In the dying moments of the game one could tell it was not the Serbians night when one of their headers from within the six yard box rebound off the upright with the Shooters goalkeeper beaten.
However these chances were not as frequent as the Serbian White Eagles would have liked due to the defensive efforts of the Italia Shooters that proved to be the difference in the game.