Chill held to draw by WSA Winnipeg
By Matt Vis
Playing in their penultimate contest of the regular season, the Thunder Bay Chill had a rare miscue at home which may cost them a chance to post the best record in the entire league.
After winning nearly every match played at home over a two-year span, the Chill finished with a 1-1 draw against WSA Winnipeg Friday night. Ali Musse scored the equalizer in the 84th minute for the visitors in Premier Development League soccer action at Fort William Stadium.
The last home game the Chill did not win came nearly two years ago to the day, as they played to a draw with Real Colorado on July 22, 2011.
Chill head coach Tony Colistro said that his team’s inability to build on their lone goal, which came in the 55th minute courtesy of Zeph Thomas, cost them victory.
“We just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities,” Colistro said after the game. “(Winnipeg) always gives us a tough time and they have good goaltending.
“They scored a nice goal. That’s the way the game is. You have to put the game away when you have opportunities.
“They were quite comfortable with the way the game was going and if we don’t finish we don’t win.”
It's possible the Chill (11-1-1) were looking past a cellar-dwelling Winnipeg (3-8-2) squad that was looking to sign off their season with a shocker.
It was announced earlier this week that Thunder Bay would play host to the Central Conference tournament next weekend, and with a pair of wins against Winnipeg the Chill would have cemented the best record in the 64-team PDL for the first time in franchise history.
For the team to finish tops in the league, they need Fresno Fuego (11-0-2) to lose or draw in their final contest on Sunday. Assuming Fresno does not win, the Chill would share the top mark if Ottawa or Ocean City wins their final matches.
“It’s disappointing now,” Colistro admitted.
“We might have given that up. We don’t control that destiny now and we will have to wait and see. That was a goal that we should have been able to achieve, and you’re a target when you’re a first-place team and you have to learn to motivate yourself to play in these games.”
The first half was a largely uneventful 45 minutes, with few quality scoring opportunities for either side.
Thomas gave the Chill some life with a pair of quality chances, converting on the second. An initial shot rang off the frame of the Winnipeg net before Thomas, who has been snake-bitten around the goal all season, headed home the rebound for the ice-breaker.
Thunder Bay was unable to expand the margin, which proved costly in the final 10 minutes.
On a free kick from the top of the penalty area, Musse fired a shot over the defensive wall that baffled Thunder Bay goalkeeper Stephen Paterson and nestled in the net to his left.
Thunder Bay had a chance to retake the lead in the immediate seconds after the Winnipeg goal. Godwin Addai found himself in front of the Winnipeg net, but he chipped the ball over the crossbar.
The Chill also had a couple of opportunities during two minutes of injury time. Reigning PDL most valuable player Sullivan Silva made his season debut with the Chill, as the star Brazilian striker made his first appearance with the club as a late second-half substitution.
After challenging for the league lead in scoring last year, Silva had been sidelined by a broken bone in his foot.
He had an opportunity to make a mark in injury time, with a run down the right side, but his shot glanced off a defender and the ball floated into the arms of Winnipeg keeper Tyson Farago.
In the waning seconds, Paul Dillon had a free kick for the Chill, but the ball was cleared by an anxious Farago.
The game was played at the stadium after Thursday’s deluge of rain soaked the natural grass field at the team’s usual home at Chapples Park.
The club hopes to play tonight’s rematch with Winnipeg at Chapples at 7:30 p.m.