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Penn FC falls to Ottawa but triumphs over Toronto FC II

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The common thread in this week’s games was last minute goals

Martin Bazyl / Toronto FC II

The Penn FC players were in high spirits on Friday night after knocking off the Tampa Bay Rowdies to get their first win of 2018. However, they didn’t have much time to sit back and savor their victory. The schedule was lining up to be particularly cruel to Penn FC as they would have to play Monday night and then again Wednesday morning. The team planned well and started an astounding twenty different players between the two matches. However, the results were decidedly mixed.

There’s two issues with the above lineup. Sean Lewis got the start in goal over Romu Peiser, which was expected. What wasn’t expected was that starting right back Jake Bond would tweak his hamstring during warmups and Marco Franco would be called to start in his place. So only four of the players who started against the Rowdies got the start again against Ottawa.

The first half did not have many exciting chances as both teams spent most of their time sitting back and controlling possession rather than pushing hard up the field. For Ottawa it was Steevan Dos Santos who had the biggest impact as he used his size to get into a dangerous position a few times, but he didn’t get any particularly strong shots off. Sean Lewis was active as a goal keeper, sprinting out several times to snatch up balls before Ottawa could take a shot.

The second half unfolded in much the same way, but Penn FC began to give Ottawa more chances. The game only remained scoreless because the Penn FC defense was bailed out by the goalpost on at least two occasions. The closest came in the 50th minute Carl Haworth broke down the right side and found an open shot after out-maneuvering the defense. But he couldn’t get much behind it, and his rolling shot bounced off the post and directly back into play.

Ottawa continued to have the majority of chances as the Penn FC players weren’t clicking in the offensive half. Jimmy Sanon nearly scored in the 86th minute, but Sean Lewis made an impressive but surely painful save with his face. Shortly after that, Penn FC conceded a corner and Ken Tribbett had to go off the field for a time after he went down with some cramping.

The Penn FC defense handled the initial corner and Sean Lewis went for a punch, but Ottawa defender Doniel Henry was jostling Kyle Venter into Lewis while he was going up and this knocked him off his feet. Colin Falvey sent the loose ball into the net for the only goal of the match. Penn FC players appealed to the referee, but he didn’t call a foul on the contact. Head Coach Raoul Voss made his feelings known about the officiating, and he was sent off the pitch for his trouble.

With only a few minutes left, Ottawa was able to easily burn the rest of the time off the clock and hold on for the 1-0 victory.

The Penn FC players were frustrated to drop points at home, but they didn’t have time to sit around feeling sorry for themselves. They had to hop on a bus headed for Canada in time for a 11am start Wednesday morning. Not surprisingly, there were nine new faces in Wednesday’s starting XI for Penn FC. Only goalkeeper Sean Lewis and midfielder/defender Haruna Shaibu started in both matches.

Toronto FC II hit the gas right out of the gate and Malik Johnson nearly scored in the second minute of the match. It appeared that the school day game crowd of 4,100 kids had given the winless Young Reds some added energy. But the match calmed down after this early flurry of activity and there wasn’t much offense to be found for either team. They only combined for five shots in the first half, none on goal.

But there was a game changing moment in the 43rd minute when Toronto’s Shaan Hundal went up for an aerial duel with Shaibu. Hundal had his elbow out away from his body and caught Shaibu on the side of the head. Hundal would see a straight red for this hit and Shaibu was down on the turf for several minutes. He would eventually return to the match, but was subbed out early in the second half.

As could be expected, Penn FC spent the second half pushing hard against the ten man Toronto side. But the Toronto defense stood tough and goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo was doing everything he could to deny the Penn FC attack. Expect to see him in the USL save-of-the-week voting next Tuesday.

It looked like the deadlock would be broken in the 57th minute when Penn FC was awarded a penalty off of a corner kick when the head referee determined that Tommy Heinemann had been fouled in the box. But Cavalluzzo guessed right and turned away Heinemann’s shot to keep it scoreless.

Toronto was energized by their defensive stops, but they couldn’t find any opportunities to score a goal of their own. The attack sputtered out without a Hundal to send the ball to, and their best opportunities to score on free kicks were quickly turned away.

Just when it seemed like a 0-0 draw was inevitable, Penn FC’s Miguel Jaime broke the deadlock in improbable fashion. After getting a pass from Kyle Venter, Jaime moved up before sending a long lob for Heinemann in the box. But some combination of wind and power put the ball on frame, and Cavalluzzo’s diving save couldn’t keep the ball from bouncing off the post and into the net.

Toronto was very nearly sunk at this point because not only had Penn FC scored, but Cavalluzzo was also injured on the play. With no subs left, defender Tim Kubel was forced to step in as goalkeeper for the rest of the match. And because of the timing of the injury, there were eight minutes of stoppage time added to the match. Kubel did well enough in goal (he even made a save) but Toronto had no opportunity to push for an equalizer. The win for Penn FC helped put the Ottawa loss behind them and allowed them to secure six points in six days.

EXTRA THOUGHTS:

  1. The win on Wednesday boosts Penn FC into 8th place in the East, but it’ll be tough for them to hold onto that position as they don’t play again until May 26th.
  2. Between the three matches almost the entire Penn FC squad made an appearance at one point or another. But based on the week’s results, expect most of the starters from the Rowdies match to get the most opportunities going forward.
  3. Harrisburg teams aren’t good with penalties for some reason. They’re 0/1 early on this season after going only 1 for 3 on penalties in 2017.