Jordi Amores (above) provided veteran leadership throughout the game as the Knights battled back from an early deficit to defeated Mohawk. (Credit: Ryan McCullough)
On a cold, windy day at Youngs Sportsplex in Welland, the Niagara Knights men's soccer program (1-0, 1st OCAA West) kicked off their 2018-19 season just as planned. The Knights took on the Mohawk Mountaineers (0-1, 4th OCAA West) and defeated them by a score of 3-2.
There were several Knights players making their OCAA debuts, but it was Oti Frigole (St. Catharines) that stole the show for Niagara, potting a pair of goals and an assist on the game's decisive goal.
After starting most of the game on attack in the Mountaineers' half, Niagara conceded first after Mohawk's Adam Villella buried a shot into the top corner of the net on a beautifully executed counter-attack in the 35th minute.
After battling down 1-0, the Knights found their equalizer 10 minutes later as Frigole would net his first OCAA goal just before the whistle blew for half-time. Frigole continued his hot start in the second half, burying a 61st minute goal from Jordi Amores (St. Catharines) which gave Niagara their first lead of the game. The lead didn't last long as Mohawk's Olisaemeta Ogbonnaya would tie things up in the 66th minute.
In the 77th minute Niagara would finally break through Mohawk's defense again, as Frigole would set-up Noah DiEgidio (Welland) for his first goal of the season, and his third as a Niagara Knight. The third Niagara goal of the game would be enough, as Niagara would walk off the pitch with three points in their first match.
Head coach Frank DeChellis was pleased with how his team played overall but admitted their we're some areas that they will need to improve upon. "We played well and didn't play well at the same time," said DeChellis. "We completed 356 passed and managed 23 shots, so we can't complain too much. There is chemistry within the group, but we need to turn that into more harmony in the attacking third.
Niagara's defenders played a solid ninety minutes, keeping their composure in a back-and-forth game.
"Jacob Therrien (Welland), David Fimiak (St. Catharines) and Quinton Leone (Niagara Falls) did their usual awesome thing that they do," said DeChellis of his defenders. "What excited us was the play of wide defenders, Anu Makinwa (Brampton) and Matthew Ilao (Brampton). They played flag to flag, supporting the attack and winning balls at the right time in the right place."
The Knights will continue their season on the road against the St. Clair Saints (0-1, 4th OCAA West) on Saturday, September 15th at 4pm before visiting the Lambton Lions (0-1, 4th OCAA West) on Sunday, September 16th at 3pm.