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‘We’re not far off’: Growing York9 still searching for final ball plays
Canadian Premier League

YORK REGION – After watching Cavalry FC wrap up the CPL’s Spring title on Wednesday, York9 FC’s players and staff took stock of the opening campaign. 

Their 2-0 home loss to the Cavs was their ninth game, with just Monday’s trip to Valour FC (6:00 p.m. ET, 5:00 p.m. CT/OneSoccer) left on the Spring calendar, and York9 coach Jimmy Brennan is disappointed not to have more to show for it. 

“It’s the same old story for us,” said Brennan of his side’s fourth goalless match. “We knocked the ball around well, we created our chances, but we just don’t have that luck at the moment to put the ball in the back of the net.” 

Brennan’s analysis of this particular loss to Cavalry is a fair one. Although the Nine Stripes fell to a pair of first-half goals, they outshot Cavalry 15 to 10 and dominated possession with 59.6%. Still, that’s the third game in a row (all at home) that they’ve been held off the scoresheet. 

Certainly, there’s an element of luck missing. Cyrus Rollocks had a golden opportunity against Cavalry, and a few days before against HFX Wanderers, Rodrigo Gattas’ foot was a hair away from a sure goal — “if you had a size 12 on you’d have scored that,” Brennan told his forward. 

A team like Cavalry, whose Spring took an opposite trajectory, was able to make their own luck with much more clinical finishing. Earlier this month, when FC Edmonton’s goalless drought was a major storyline, Jeff Paulus drilled his team on taking shots from better positions, leading to a three-goal outburst at Pacific FC. 

Finishing and shot selection are, then, the logical next steps in York9’s development as they move toward the Spring season. 

As has been the narrative all season, York9 is a work in progress. So, Brennan assured the media at York Lions Stadium, what we’ve seen on the pitch hasn’t yet done justice to what his side has been doing in training.

“I feel sorry for them at the end of games,” Brennan admitted. “I know that they deserve so much more because of the work they put in.” 

They’re not far off, though, according to both Brennan and York9 centre-back Luca Gasparotto, whose outlook is even bolder than his coach’s. 

“I think we play probably the best football in the league on our day,” Gasparotto declared. “We can play with anybody. As Jimmy said, we’re not far off, it’s just that clinical finishing in the final third.” 

York9's Abzi in action vs. Cavalry. (Photo: Nora Stankovic).
York9’s Abzi in action vs. Cavalry. (Photo: Nora Stankovic).

Thankfully for the Nine Stripes, they get a blank slate after Monday’s Spring season finale and another crack at a place in the CPL Championship. Now that they’ve had just over two months’ worth of competitive games to get their system working, the results will begin to grow in importance.

Although they’ll finish well behind the top teams in the Spring, York9’s expectations for themselves are sky high. 

“We have to reset, refocus, and go again,” Gasparotto said. “We feel that with the players and the style we have that we should be at the top.” 

“We want to be in that final,” Brennan added. “We want to be champions.” 

To get there, they’ll have to start scoring some goals.