Toronto Croatia wins CSL
By Kurtis Larson ,Toronto Sun
First posted: Saturday, October 29, 2011 11:02 PM EDT
Toronto Croatia celebrates a win over Capital City FC of Ottawa during the CSL final at Centennial Park Stadium last night. (Dave Abel, Toronto Sun)
TORONTO - A first-half Hayden Fitizwilliams header held up to give Toronto Croatia a 1-0 win over Ottawa’s Capital City FC in the Canadian Soccer League final at Centennial Park Stadium Saturday night.
A timid start opened up just before the 20-minute mark when Fitizwilliams rose to meet a Tihomir Maletic dead-ball. The home side’s winger broke just metres from goal before nodding the well-placed free kick past City’s Clinton Irwin.
“We’ve made one mistake in the game,” Capital City head coach Shaun Harris said of the eventual winner. “I thought our guys played terrific soccer in the second half … I thought we were by far the better team in the second 45 minutes.”
In its only chance of the opening half, Capital City came close to equalizing moments later when confusion inside Croatia’s box led to an opening for Sullivan Silva in the 21st minute. Left alone in front of goal, the visitor’s leading goal scorer scuffed the open look wide off the far post, keeping Toronto Croatia comfortably in front in a first half void of opportunities.
“I should have finished it first time,” Silva said of the effort. “I made a mistake and will move on. Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish our opportunities … but it was a great season.”
As billed, the two clubs that conceded the least in 2011 were difficult to unlock throughout the first hour, giving up minimal opportunities inside both areas.
An otherwise disorganized and lazy opening for Capital City changed after the break, with City employing newfound urgency in an effort to get back on level terms.
Trailing by a goal, Silva provided Capital City with its best chance of the match in the 62nd minute when Sandi Matika failed to deal with the Brazilian’s attempt from the right side of the box. Matika spilled the effort metres from goal but smothered Andre Manders rebound attempt to keep Toronto Croatia in front late.
“We changed our shape today to deal with (Croatia’s defence) and try and get more chances forward out of the midfield,” Harris said. “We didn’t create as many chances on target as we would have liked … but we created more than them.”
Manders came close to leveling for the visitors 10 minutes from time after receiving a crossed in ball at the corner of the goal box. The winger’s attempt on the half-volley failed to test Matika who was the more pressured of the two ‘keepers during the second half.
Toronto Croatia came close to doubling the lead in stoppage time when an errant back pass from Joel Bagby nearly allowed Maletic a way in on goal. Irwin’s clearance attempt was blocked by Croatia’s striker with the deflection almost finding goal.
Suffering a pair of 2-0 defeats during the regular season, the result kept the Ottawans winless against Toronto Croatia in 2011 and gave the home side a fourth CSL title – its first since 2007.
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