May 21st, 2023 - Windsor City FC (2-4-0) vs Sigma FC (5-1-1)
Windsor City faced a tall task Sunday facing the league leading Sigma FC, but that wasn’t the only thing creating buzz around the pitch. It was a busy sight at Acumen Stadium as youth teams, school boards, and fans packed the house for Windsor City’s annual ‘international fan night.’ The importance of nights like these and the recognition of this diversity found in Windsor was not lost on the team either as Windsor City player Nestor Lopez suggests, “Me being a player born in El Salvador I love to see the mix of different cultures and this diversity really brings everyone in the community closer.” On the pitch the club was looking for a way to come closer to the top of the standings. Head coach Valter Cosenza identified three keys for Windsor to find success: playing with passion, limiting mistakes, and focus.
The first half was filled to the brim with suffocating defensive pressure from Windsor, and the slow methodological tempo of Sigma FC. The first three minutes of the game showed Windsor’s resolve as three Sigma FC corner kicks either went wide or were saved by Windsor City FC goalkeeper, Dante Carraro. This resolve transformed into momentum as a good cross pass led to a missed shot by #32 Matthew Andres in the 8th minute. This momentum was furthered when Windsor’s fancy footwork mixed in with a messy defensive play in front of Sigma’s net allowed Windsor City’s Owen Antoniuk to score his team leading fourth goal of the season putting Windsor City up 1-0 at the 12th minute. There was an attempt to extend this lead a minute later as Jose Pabon had a breakaway, but got stonewalled by Sigma’s goalkeeper. Sigma FC then responded with a goal of their own by Ryan Kheedo in the 19th minute. The game took an unfortunate turn at the 26th minute as Windsor City captain, Bastian Aguilera was upended and went down hard, landing awkwardly on his upper body. The half also saw its fair share of yellow cards as Sigma’s #22, Imani Abiud got one in the 39th minute, and Windsor head coach, Valter Cosenza was also handed one at the 40th minute. Sigma’s #7, Marcus Caldeira, got off a sharp shot putting them up 2-1 in the 43rd minute. Windsor City’s play was very defensive minded and focused. All in all, Windsor City’s first half showed that the club was playing the game they wanted to. This challenged Sigma FC to get uncomfortable and play a style of game they did not particularly want to play.
Halftime was busy, as Cosenza received an ejection from the game. Assistant coach Rob Arce reflected on the influence of this decision, “Valter’s ejection influenced the locker room, as he serves as a phenomenal leader to our young club.” In addition, showing grit, but clearly in pain Bastian Aguilera exited the game at halftime. These two factors shifted the winds in favour of Sigma FC. Sigma capitalised by scoring a pair of quick goals at the 50th, and 58th minutes (Nino Nikolovski, and Marcus Caldeira). Now up 4-1 Sigma FC’s offensive pressure was continuous. Windsor City play lacked confidence, and focus. The Yellow card was brought out in the 63rd minute for Sigma FC’s Santiago Frias, and in the 65th minute for Windsor’s Jonathan Agapito. Sigma FC’s ball possession led to plenty of chances later in the half, that Windsor stopped, but ultimately lots of turnovers, misreads for passes, and little offensive pressure demonstrated a lack of chemistry that haunted the club’s second half. Sigma in total had seven corner chances, and thirteen shots compared to Windsor's two corners, and eight shots total.
Despite the outcome the coaches, players, and organisation as a whole would like to thank everyone that came out. The players stuck around for photos, and to meet some of the youth teams present at the game. Owen Antonuik reflected on the club’s relationship to the community, “We hope to help and inspire the community [...] I know we have a lot of local players who kids can look up to.” Assistant coach, Rob Arce reflected on the outcome of the game, and the clubs outlook, “It was a lost opportunity to show how good our team actually is[...] but we have a young team who is still learning, but all the boys are phenomenal and our time will come.” The future sure is bright both because of the smiles from the community, and the development of the players on the field.