Jason Bent

Bent's Boys Bounced

Toronto FC Academy's senior side bowed out of the Canadian Soccer League playoffs on Sunday with a 1-0 loss to Hamilton Croatia. Over two legs the young Reds - who lost more than half of their players to collegiate scholarships and MLS signings - were downed 3-1 on aggregate.

In a match that Toronto FC Academy needed to overturn a 2-1 first leg defeat there was certainly much at stake. The opening quarter was played very cautiously by both teams and the first chance did not come until the 22nd minute, when Hamilton's Adam Legget showed good footwork to evade Toronto's Parker Seymour, before hitting a low hard shot that Angelo Cavaluzzo in the TFC goal managed to comfortably save.

TFC Academy striker Keith Makubuya showed excellent pace to get beyond the opposition defence at the 26th minute and if not for a foul which was judged to occur just outside the box, he would have been in on goal with an opportunity.

Hamilton created a decent chance in the 33rd minute when they forced a turnover in midfield and rampaged down the right flank before delivering a cross into the box for Preston Corporal, but his shot was saved at the near post by Cavaluzzo.

After the halftime interval with the game still at a stalemate, TFC winger Josh Janniere dribbled past several defenders on route to goal and hit a hard shot that Melford James did well to push out for a corner kick.

Hamilton continued to fight back but still remained strong and resolute in defence as TFC Academy threw numbers forward in search of a goal. Jamie Dodds had a half chance in the 63rd minute when his first time shot after receiving a cutback nearly beat Cavaluzzo. 

Shortly thereafter it was the Reds nemesis the past few games, Corporal, who seemingly sealed Hamilton Croatia’s progression into the semifinals as he capitalized off some loose marking in the box to slot the winner past a helpless Cavaluzzo.

The Academy continued to fight until the final whistle and still had a couple of excellent chances that on another day could have changed the complexion of the tie. Tristan Jackman was the beneficiary on both occasions but unfortunately James was equal to the task to maintain his team’s advantage.

"Credit to our opponents," said head coach Jason Bent, "they are a well organized and experienced team that matched us in every category possible. They are a good addition to the league and I wish them all the best. The atmosphere from the supporters of both clubs was healthy and definitely added to the two (legs).”

The young Reds were officially eliminated from the CSL playoffs but can certainly look back on their season with pride in the way they performed and competed.

"I am very proud of the players as they battled throughout the two leg playoff encounter with Hamilton Croatia. Although we are disappointed not to progress we can take many positives from our season and that is very encouraging for the future. For me those players have gained invaluable experience this season and these two playoff games coupled with our friendly against Colo Colo first team stand out as integral moments in their development."