In 2010, Lawrence Park won the city championships.
With that in mind, head coach Errol Platt knew his squad would have a target on their back throughout league play and into the playoffs.
Concluding their regular season against Forest Hill on a chilly, rainy Oct. 19 at Earlscourt Park, the Panthers struggled to find the net throughout the first half and into the second.
“We were at full measure for the victory,” Platt said. “I think the score could have been more in our favour but some of our crosses weren’t being connected.
“Some of our players weren’t in the positions they should have been.”
Panthers striker Mark-Anthony Kaye agreed.
“The other team, it was hard to crack their defence because they had a solid back four, but we ended up (scoring),” he said. “All we had to do was shoot, and that’s how we scored, on a lucky deflection.”
The bounce won Lawrence Park the game, 1-0, and came from Jon Sargeant’s late charge on the net with 10 minutes to go in the second half.
A lack of cohesion this season has seen the Panthers end with a 4-2 record, with the post-season fast approaching Oct. 24.
“We have yet to put together a complete game all season, and it shows,” Platt said. “We don’t finish the way we need to or the way we can.
“It’s not for the lack of trying or effort on the part of the boys.”
The Panthers experienced a few episodes of pre-Halloween terror as the Falcons’ Victor Dudnic almost scored on a free kick 20 feet out.
“I thought I could get in the top corner but it didn’t really go in,” he said. “It just went to the goalkeeper.”
Also working hard in the backfield for Forest Hill was Tudor Chirila, forcing turnovers off Panthers’ strikers and sending up to his awaiting midfielders.
“I was just trying to contain them, making sure they don’t get a lot of shots off,” he said. “I tried to stall them until midfield drives back and clear it up.”
After Lawrence Park’s tie-breaking notch, Chirila moved up onto the attack to try and create opportunities.
“There was about 10 minutes left and I felt that if we are going to lose, I might as well give it a shot and go up, try and create something,” he said. “And it just didn’t happen.
“We played a good opponent,” he added. “We had our chances and they had theirs and although they beat us, we’re not too disappointed because it was only one goal.”
Both the Panthers and Falcons advance to the next round.
Though Kaye is a realist when it comes to how far the Panthers will advance, his coach said he is thinking positive.
“I don’t step on the field, I’m on the side coaching,” Platt said. “They’re the ones who win the games and I’m optimistic because they’ve proven to me over the years why I should be.”
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