Striker Matthew Palleschi of Vaughan Shooters stole the limelight with a natural hat-trick to put his team in the Canadian Soccer League's championship final for the second year in succession, and new-team Oakville Blue Devils are the opponents following their victory over Hamilton Thunder in the two semifinal games played at Esther Shiner Stadium Saturday.
Palleschi's scored two picture goals at 28 and 40 minutes for a 2-0 Shooters' lead at the interval, then made it look oh, so easy in slipping the ball past Croatia goalkeeper George Azcurra for a 3-0 lead at the 56th minute mark. Midfielder Desmond Humphrey added a fourth at the 74 minutes, but only after the team from York Region has established itself in full control and heading into Monday's final.
The win follows on the heels of Vaughan's winning of the Eastern Conference and their successful 2004 campaign that took much the same team to last year's Championship Final, only to suffer defeat in the hands of today's opponents, Toronto Croatia.
Oakville once again showed a lot of determination in an entertaining tough encounter with the team from Steeltown, but it was the team west of Oakville that had to bend under pressure from goals by Blue Devils' midfielder Ian Sinclair with a confident strike that hit the roof of the net at 31 minutes and this 1-0 halftime Oakville lead was followed by a goal from forward Marko Bedenikovich at 75 minutes.
Oakville launched this year from a relocated Metro Lions with the support of the Oakville Soccer Club and the community and are just one-game away from the CPSL title.
Vaughan Shooters and Oakville Blue Devils come together at Esther Shiner Stadium on Thanksgiving Day Monday, a 4.05 pm kickoff for the league championship following the CPSL's five-month season as the only complete professional soccer league in the country.
Here is a recap of the CPSL playoffs:
Oakville Blue Devils 3, Border Stars 1
Toronto Croatia 1, Laval Dynamites 0
Toronto Croatia 1, North York Astros 0
Oakville Blue Devils 2, Hamilton Thunder 0
Vaughan Shooters 4, Toronto Croatia 0
All the latest playoff details at a glance and the CPSL's Annual Awards Night:
Who’s in the playoffs?
Vaughan Shooters, Toronto Croatia, Laval Dynamites and North York Astros in the east, Hamilton Thunder, Oakville Blue Devils and Border Stars in the west.
Border Stars, Laval Dynamites, North York Astros, Hamilton Thunder and Toronto Croatia have all been eliminated.
The CPSL's Annual Awards Night on Sunday, to be followed by the CPSL Championship Final at Esther Shiner Stadium on Thanksgiving Day, Monday a 4.05 pm kickoff.
Who receives what on the Awards Night?
The CPSL Annual Awards night is on Sunday, October 9 when most of the awards are presented.
That’s the eve of the championship final game – so the championship presentation will be made after the game the next day.
Who can go to the Awards Night?
The Awards Banquet is at the La Contessa Banquet Hall, 69 Milvan Drive, Toronto. Ticket and other information can be obtained from 416 240-1718 or at the CPSL office at 905 856-5439.
You may e-mail at [email protected] Tickets are available to fans and enquiries are welcome.
Who's in the final:
Vaughan Shooters vs. Oakville Blue Devils play for the title of Canada's only complete professional soccer league.