York United FC faced off against Atlético Ottawa in a high stakes game on Sunday afternoon. Going into this match, York was sitting one point out of the playoffs behind Ottawa. The stakes for this game were simple. If York wins, they control their destiny next week against Vancouver FC, but if Ottawa wins they clinch the 5th and final playoff spot. York’s coach Martin Nash knew how important this game was. He said that this was probably one of the most important games for him as the head coach of York. Coming into this match, Ottawa was winless in their last 7 matches. Looking to break their winless drought and clinch playoffs, they came in ready to fight.
First Half Battle
The first 45 was a York dominated half after holding on to 65% possession in the half with some great scoring opportunities. Although Ottawa only had 35% possession in the half, they made the most of their opportunities. Ottawa found themselves with multiple scoring chances around the 20th minute, but Niko Giantsopoulos came up big for York. Giantsopoulos would continue to come up with multiple big saves in the half. keeping the score 0-0 heading into a very important second half.
Second Half thriller
Starting the second half York and Ottawa both had their chances, but York seemed to have the advantage. They had some good scoring chances, but just couldn’t get the ball in the back of the net. Going into the 80th minute, York had a stronger push. Ottawa has been known lately for conceding in the final minutes of the game, most recently last week against Valor. With the clock running down in the 88th minute, Kevin Dos Santos came off the bench and found himself through the defenders and buried what may be the most important goal of the season. The celebration showed what that goal meant to the team. Kevin said after the game “I don’t know what to say really, it’s just so nice to celebrate with the team after that goal, after that huge performance from the whole team”.
After the goal there was a bit of a push back, with seven minutes of injury time there was still plenty of time for Ottawa to fight back and grab a point. Unfortunately for Ottawa, there wasn’t any strong pressure in the York end until the last two minutes of the game, which would be too late as after Ottawa’s corner, the referee blew the whistle and York United F.C is now in control of their future heading into Friday against Vancouver FC.
Notable moments From Post Game Interview:
Atlético Ottawa head coach Carlos Gonzalez on the upcoming match on Saturday and how he plans on resetting the team’s attitude when playoffs are still a possibility- “I will have to think with my staff this next 24 hours and set our minds again for this game that we maybe get our chance again on Sunday”
Kevin Dos Santos on how important Niko Giantsopoulos was for York during the game- “It’s amazing because he keeps us in the game, if Niko doesn’t make those saves we have to fight again. Niko is so important, have to mention him”
Photo Credits- David Chant
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