The Usual Suspects take home TIFT titles

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Toronto Impact: TIFT Champions U16 Girls and Mens

In a series of intense championship matches between familiar foes, the Toronto Invitational Futsal Tournament came to a close on Sunday and it was the usual suspects that brought home the hardware.

MATCH VIDEOS THAT WERE BROADCASTED ON TV CAN NOW BE FOUND IN OUR VIDEO SECTION UNDER ‘TIFT’

With numerous people at the Direct Energy Centre watching on, the tournament had attracted not only top futsal teams from across 11 different cities in the US and Canada but created new fans of the sport including parents, coaches, kids, executives and businesses that were in attendance for the Toronto International Soccer Show. Most in the sporting and soccer landscape didn’t know what futsal was coming in but definitely developed an appreciation for it after they left. Many of those from unsanctioned futsal leagues were also impressed with the tournament and the doors for dialogue to unite have now been opened. Needless to say it was a monumental weekend for Canadian futsal as 2010 looks to be the year the sport breaks out.

Any parents/coaches/players with video or photo are urged to send an email to TIFT Director Kris Fernandes at tift@futsalcanada.ca.  

Here are the results of Sunday’s matches including the playoffs and the final standings of all group matches.

The U16 girls championship was decided between two rivals from the ‘Liga de Oro’ in Toronto; the Toronto Impact Girls and Sala XX FSE, the latter of which was only included into the tournament a week and a half before the show after being snubbed. They fought their way ito the finals through a very tough group that also featured the ANB Academy, 3x OSA Futsal Cup Champions Etobicoke Energy and a promising new team from Durham Futsal. Sala had beaten the Impact 3-2 in group stage play earlier in the tournament but found it quite difficult to penetrate their rock solid defence that was masterful on the counter-attack. Sala were stifled and could not overcome their rivals as the Toronto Impact won 2-0 to win the championship.

FINAL U16 Girls Standings

                              W  L  T  PTS  GF  GA
1. Sala XX FSE          3  1  0   9   20  13
2. Toronto Impact    3  1  0   9   17  12
3. Etobicoke Energy 2  1  1   7   14  8
4. Durham Futsal      1  2  1   4   11  17
5. ANB Academy      0  4  0   0   10  23

Championship: Toronto Impact 2   Sala XX FSE 0

 

TORONTO IMPACT WON 2 TITLES AT TIFT: U16 GIRLS and MENS PICTURED ABOVE

Everyone within the Ontario futsal scene knew that the most intense matchup for the final in the U16 boys division would just had to between Uruguay of the Driftwood Hispanic Soccer League and the powerful Toronto Eagles. These two rivals initially got it on during the 2008 OSA Futsal Cup with both teams taking a game but with Uruguay leaving with the title. In this competition Uruguay went 3-0 during their first group stages with an impressive +18 goal difference and established themselves as early favourites. But the Eagles needed to beat Uruguay in their final group stage game in order to climb over a high quality Cleveland team for the coveted final spot. They did just that with a 2 goal win to set up a rematch 3 hours later. The Eagles continued their explosive style of play and remained composed, exploiting the rare gaps left by Uruguay and eventually pulled away with a 5-3 win for the gold. It was an unbelievably entertaining division from start to finish.

U16 Boys Standings
                
                                  W  L  T  PTS  GF  GA
1. Toronto Eagles     3  1  0   9   23  13
2. Uruguay                 3  1  0   9   32  17
3. Cleveland Super F  2  2  0   6   25  20
4. London Spartacus  1  3  0   3   18  36
5. ANB Academy       1  3  0   3   17  30

Championship: Toronto Eagles 5  Uruguay 3

DEN OF LIONS FROM NEW JERSEY TRY TO STAVE OFF AN ATTEMPT ON NET FROM BOCA JUNIORS FROM TORONTO 

Probably the division with the most equal parity was the U18 girls division. Featuring the Brantford Bobcats, Sarnia Spirit, 2007 OSA Futsal Cup Champions Russell Raiders and the 2008 Ontario champions Oshawa Turul more or less every game was tight. The Russell Raiders, who represented Ontario at the 2007 nationals in BC, started off well with two convincing wins over Brantford and Sarnia and competed in what many were calling one of the best matches in the group stage when they narrowly fell 7-5 to Oshawa at George Brown College. 

The Turul finished the group stage undefeated and went to eliminate the Bobcats in the first semi-final. Russell upended Sarnia in the other semi to setup a classic rematch. The final was as close as it could possibly be with both teams going back and forth at each others nets utilizing deft passing and tight defence. The intensity escalated in the 2nd half as both squads started taking more risks to gain the edge. Russell ended up scoring a late goal then held down the fort to avenge their earlier defeat with a 3-2 victory to win their 2nd major futsal championship since 2007.

U18 Girls Standings

                                   W  L  T  PTS  GF  GA
1. Oshawa Turul        3  0  0   9   18  10
2. Russell Raiders        2  1  0   6   16   9
3. Sarnia Spirit             1  2  0   3   5   12
4. Brantford Bobcats   0  3  0   0   7   15

Semi Finals: Oshawa Turul 7 Brantford Bobcats 0, Russell Raiders 4 Sarnia Spirit 1
Championship: Russell Raiders 3 Oshawa Turul 2

 

The U18 boys division had people in awe as the athletic teenage futsallers put on a series of dazzling displays. London Juventus, Cleveland Super F, Korean Tigers (Toronto), North York Dynamo, and the ANB Academy (Vaughn) each scraped out some hard fought wins during the group stages but after London failed to beat the always difficult Dynamo, winners of multiple futsal competitions, the final would be contested by North York and the ANB Academy, a team making their first appearance into a FIFA futsal rules competition. ANB were certainly athletic enough to hang with the boys from North York but it was a lack of experience that came to haunt them. Coached by top futsal coach Vladimir Karpenko, the Dynamo have built a strong reputation for themselves based off their clever and patient ball movement topped with a mean offense that is dangerous from any corner of the court. North York added yet another trophy to their case with a commanding 10-5 win over an ANB squad that showed a lot of heart and character.

U18 Boys Standings

                                          W  L  T  PTS  GF  GA
1. North York Dynamo     4  0  0   12  33   9
2. ANB Academy              2  2  0    6  21  21
3. London Juventus          1  2  1    4  23  27
4. Korean Tigers               1  2  1    4  13  19
5. Cleveland Super F         1  3  0    3  20  30

Championship: North York Dynamo 10  ANB Academy 5

 

The mens division is always one of the most highly anticipated groups in any tournament, particularly in Toronto where some of North America’s best futsal clubs reside. Group A had featured great teams including tournament favourites Toronto Impact, London Benfica, CUFC Ottawa and the VP Court Kings (TOR). Featuring many players from the team that represented Canada at the prestigious 2008 Futsal Grand Prix in Brazil, the Toronto Impact gave a hard run for every team and finished 3-0 in the group stage. The VP Court Kings, playing in their first season of futsal, gave a tough match to its opponents but it was the Ottawa Carleton Futsal League leaders CUFC that declared the second playoff spot with a solid win over an always tough London Benfica side.

Mens Standings

Group A                      W  L  T  PTS  GF  GA

1. Toronto Impact     3  0  0   9   18   5
2. CUFC Ottawa         2  1  0   6   19  13
3. London Benfica      1  2  0   3   21  18
4. VP Court Kings       0  3  0   0   10  27

Group B saw the Owen Sound Strikers, Boca Juniors (TOR), London LA Selecta, and New Jersey’s Den of Lions go head to head over the 3 day competition. Boca started off well with a dominant 7-2 win over DOL and went undefeated in the group with victories over both the Selecta and very resilient Owen Sound squad that surprised a lot of people with their quick first touches and highly disciplined style. DOL gained a tight 6-5 result over Selecta and shutout Owen Sound 3-0 to clinch the 2nd playoff spot and a matchup with the Toronto Impact.

Group B                       W  L  T  PTS  GF  GA
1. Boca Juniors (TOR)  3  0  0   9   21   4
2. Den of Lions (NJ)     2  1  0   6    8  11
3. Owen Sound Strikers 1  2  0   3   10   9
4. London LA Selecta    0  3  0   0   7   24

Both semi-finals went on the FIFA sized Sport Courts at the same time and were so entertaining it seemed as if every person attending the Toronto International Soccer Show, including vendors, had stopped in their tracks to watch them. In the 1st matchup, Boca Juniors opened up with a pair of quick goals against Ottawa and played extremely tight at the back to earn a spot in the championship with a convincing 4-0 win.

In the other decider, Toronto and Den of Lions put on what was easily one of North America’s best futsal games of the year. The young DOL squad stepped up their game and showed why they’re one America’s top 10 futsal teams. Backed by some excellent goalkeeping they staved off the potent Toronto attack and countered with some crisp shots of their own, scoring twice in the first half. Toronto came back when keeper Roy Blanche came into the game and quarterbacked the offense as the 5th attacker with some quality set plays and was rewarded with a pair of goals. The second half went back and forth, relentless attack after attack in their quest to the final. Julio Garcia, known in Canada simply as ‘Chimpa’, finished off an unbelievable play that was setup by Nico Martinez and Alvaro Yaques. Toronto was able to fend out a resiliant DOL side and earned their place to challenge their local city rivals for the title and the cool $3000 prize.

The Impact, coming into the game, are currently first in the Toronto Futsal League and right behind them are Boca Juniors. Both teams grew up with each other in a tough part of northwestern Toronto that is known for its superior production of futsal players over the last two decades. Needless to say, the $3000 was enough incentive to win but the bragging rights over one another was far more valuable to both.

Boca played what must’ve been their best game of the year even without star player Serg Marchant who was ejected in the semi final. They caught Toronto off guard early on and scored quickly to go up 1-0. They pressed hard again, looking to gain a 2 goal advantage but it was Toronto that scored off the counter. Boca scored another late in the 1st half to go up 2-1. Toronto decided to play a more possession oriented style and again brought in Blanche, an attacking keeper specialist, for the 2nd half. It immediately paid dividends as Toronto spread themselves along the sidelines, passing back and forth looking for that elusive opening and scored to tie it up again before adding another two minutes later to put them ahead 3-2. Boca tried different methods to regain their previous advantage and were stifled until about the 10 minute mark when they brought it back to a 3-3 deadlock. The game seemed destined for overtime until Toronto scored a great goal with 3 minutes left. Despite some tough advances from Boca in the dying seconds of the game, Toronto held on to win the championship, the club’s 2nd of the tournament after the girls who also won in the U16’s.

Semi Finals: 1A Toronto Impact 4 vs 2B Den of Lions 3
                   1B Boca Juniors   4 vs CUFC Ottawa     1

Championship: Toronto Impact 4 Boca Juniors 3 

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