By Larry Moko
The playoffs start in senior boys’ high school soccer next week, but coach Marinus Meulendyks doesn’t really know what to expect from his St. Thomas More Knights.
The Knights completed their Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic regular-season schedule with a 1-1 tie against the Bishop Tonnos Titans Wednesday. And with that result, More (4-1-2) ended up in third place behind the Bishop Ryan Celtics and the first-place Cardinal Newman Cardinals.
More captured a silver medal at the OFSAA Triple A championships two years ago in Kingston and narrowly lost to Newman – 3-2 in overtime – at last year’s city final.
“We’ve got a good team,” Meulendyks said, “We have some very talented players, but I haven’t been happy with our performance for the bulk of the season. It’s been frustrating.
“The way we can move the ball around and possess the ball is fantastic. The movement is great. But if you don’t score on the opportunities and put teams away you give teams a chance to take the game from you. We’ve got to talk more and we’ve got to learn to play a bit better in that final third.”
Playing at Tonnos, More fell behind on a 30-yard left-footed blast by Daniel Mun that caromed up and in off the hands of the Knights goalkeeper.
More then tied the score before halftime on a pretty goal by Christian Starcevic after he took a though ball down the middle. “That shows what we’re capable of,” the More coach said.
More had dangerous scoring opportunities late in the contest but couldn’t get one past goalkeeper Zach Mostacci. Tonnos, however, also had a chance to go ahead in the final two minutes when it missed an open net from a sharp angle in close.
“This is a very positive result for us to have a draw against St. Thomas More,” Tonnos coach Edwin Suva said. “I don’t think we’ve peaked yet. Hopefully, we can peak in the playoffs and make a good run.
“Our guys are skilled. The biggest problem is we’re not a very tall team. Some of the other teams are a little more physical than we are.”
Tonnos (2-2-2) winds up its regular season schedule Thursday against the St. Mary Crusaders (1-4-1), while the Cathedral Gaels (1-4-1) face the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves (3-2-1).
In the other game Wednesday, Bishop Ryan defeated the winless ACMT Jaguars to finish with a 5-1-1 record.
The schedule wraps up Thursday with a pair of games. All eight teams then qualify for the playoffs, with 1 playing 8, 7 going against 2, 6 versus 3 and 4 matched against 5. All quarter-finals are Tuesday.