PDL Game Report
Friday, August 2, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas – Second-half goals by Sergio Campano Franco and Sullivan Silva sent the Thunder Bay Chill into final of the 2013 PDL Championship presented by Nike as they took a 2-0 victory against the Victoria Highlanders FC on Friday evening at House Park. The Chill will play for their second PDL Championship on Sunday night.
“I thought the first half they settled it down and we were happy with that,” Thunder Bay Coach Tony Colistro said. “Then when we came in ahead of the second half, we talked about some of the opportunities that we had, and we said ‘we’ve got to take this game, we can’t wait for it’. I think we played a little more aggressive, a little more direct in the second half.”
Thunder Bay came out brightly to start the second half, but needed a little luck to take the lead in the 55th minute. After Campano Franco sent a pass wide to Paul Dillon, the return pass came back to the Spanish midfielder and he hit a volley from 20 yards that slipped through Victoria goalkeeper Elliot Mitrou’s hands and into the right corner of the net.
Victoria tried to hit back quickly as Andrew Ravenhill made a good run into the left side of the penalty area, only for his shot to be deflected behind for a corner by Thunder Bay goalkeeper Stephen Paterson’s feet. The Highlanders went close from a corner shortly after as Riley O’Neil’s header clipped off the base of the left post and went behind for a goal kick as Victoria couldn’t quite find the break it needed.
“Everything is so important,” Colistro said. “Even when it was 1-0, they had a lot of opportunities at the back post, just a little bit wide and things like that, and we got some breaks and that was enough for us to buy us that insurance goal.”
Silva, the 2012 PDL Most Valuable Player, nearly struck in the 65th minute, pulling his shot wide of the left post from the right side of the penalty area, but as the half wore on the pressure started to build from the Highlanders. A good piece of interplay released O’Neil into the left side of the penalty area, only for the defense to recover to block his shot in the 77th minute, and five minutes later Blair Sturrock went close from a corner, with his low shot being cleared off the line by Thunder Bay’s Zetroy Robertson.
Victoria again came close with five minutes to go as a good give-and-go released Cam Stokes into the right side of the penalty area, only for his shot to find the side netting. As the Highlanders pushed forward, however, chances on the counter-attack opened for the Chill, and Silva was well denied by Mitrou with three minutes to go from close range after the Brazilian beat two defenders inside the penalty area.
Silva found his goal in as the clock hit 90 minutes, however, as he again got past a pair of defenders on the left side and then rifled a shot into the right corner of the net from 25 yards. For Silva, who missed the majority of the regular season with a broken foot, the goal capped his best performance since his return from injury, according to Colistro.
“We’ve said we had Sullivan all year, and the team has done so well without him,” Colistro said. “I said, ‘you’re going to be a great trump card for us come playoff time’, and today he looked the best that he has all season, and he’s ready to be that contributor off the bench. It’s a nice little bench player to have, because he’s not a bench player.”
The Highlanders opened the first half more brightly, holding possession well, and they had the first serious effort on goal as Wesley Barrett’s low shot went wide of the right post in the fourth minute. Victoria also found success down the left side through Ravenhill, who overlapped well, but their first big chance came in the 28th minute as a chipped cross by Sturrock from the right found Jordie Hughes 10 yards out, but his header went straight to Paterson.
The Chill took longer to get established, with a long-range effort by Sunny Omoregie going well wide in the 11th minute. As the first half went on, however, Thunder Bay gained a foothold, and Mitrou did well to first punch clear a dangerous cross and then steal possession off the foot of a Chill midfielder at the top of the penalty area to quell the threat just before the half-hour mark. Abraham Villon also went close with a long-range effort, and Omoregie was denied well by Mitrou after Campano Franco spun his defender and slid a good through-ball to the Nigerian forward in the 39th minute.
Thunder Bay will now look ahead to Sunday’s game, its third visit to the PDL Championship Game, hoping for a better result than the last time it advanced and fell to the Portland Timbers U-23s in 2010.