Sasa Viciknez’s free-kick strike at the 42nd minute was the difference as the Serbian White Eagles defeated TFC Academy 1-0 on Sunday at Centennial Stadium.
The victory gives the second-seeded White Eagles a 1-0 lead in the first leg of the quarter-finals round of the Canadian Soccer League playoffs.
In a match where chances were few and far between, Viciknez made good on an opportunity to put the defending champion White Eagles ahead just before the half on a shot that beat TFC goalkeeper Garrett Cyprus.
While unsure about the nature of the foul or the player involved before Viciknez’s free-kick, TFC coach Jason Bent’s frustration with the officiating was evident after the conclusion of the game.
“I think the referee missed a lot of calls all day long,” Bent said.
“There were times when our big No. 9 [Allando] Matheson was fouled at the top of the box. No call was made.
“Sometimes refs take over and it’s a shame.”
Though his team dropped the season series to the White Eagles 2-0 and is now in a must-win position to keep their season alive, Bent is confident his team can emerge victorious.
“The boys played very well today,” Bent said. “It was unfortunate we went down a goal on a dubious call by the referee.
“The boys kept going and we’ll live to see another day.”
Academy left back Ashtone Morgan agrees with his coach’s assessment and is anxious to get back on the field for a 3:30 p.m. tilt next Saturday at Lamport Stadium.
“We felt like we dominated the game,” Morgan said.
“We had a few chances that we should have finished early on. We could have put them back on their feet and they’re not able to win the game.”
In the other quarter finals:
The Brampton Lions defeated Toronto Croatia 3-0 in the later Sunday night matchup at Centennial Stadium. Hayden Fitzwilliams, Tihomir Maletic and Jonathan Busamante all netted goals for the Lions.
On Saturday, the top seeded Trois-Rivieres Attak shut out Portugal FC 3-0, while the Italia Shooters beat the St. Catharines Wolves 5-0.
The CSL playoffs are based on a goal system where two teams meet in a home and away series and the winner is decided at the conclusion of the second match.
If both teams’ goal totals are identical at the end of the second game, two 15-minute overtimes are played.