Last Saturday, the Impact U18 and U16 teams played their first game of 2017 at Centre Nutrilait. The games against Empire United were important ones as the U18s were trying to reinforce their playoff spot while the U16s were trying to climb in the standings for a playoff spot.
Clean sheet for U18s
The Impact U18 played first on the Centre Nutrilait fields, just cleared of snow. After a slow start, Montreal found its pace and defender Raphaël Garcia scored the first goal of the game on a cross missed by the defenders.
The Bleu-blanc-noir quickly added a second goal. On a cross from Garcia, Moulay Hamza Kanzi-Belghiti redirected the ball toward Gabriel Balbinotti, who pushed it in the back of the net for his 15th goal in 15 games.
The team held on in the second half to get the clean sheet, even after going down to 10 men after an injury to Kheireddine Kourdassi.
Impact U16 moves up in standings
The game had a particular relevance for the U16 team as they could leapfrog Empire United in the standings with a win.
The opposing team scored first. Empire United’s forward saw his shot stopped by goalkeeper Jordan Tisseur, but scored on the rebound. But the Impact drew level seconds later when Luis-Enrique Alonzo-Paz found the top right corner from outside the box to make it 1-1.
Nicolas Gagnon’s team started the second half on the right foot, scoring just minutes after halftime. Midfielder Daniel Pacella sent a through ball to Woobens Pacius who made it 2-1. Only a minute later, Calin Calaidjoglu scored the third Bleu-blanc-noir goal on a penalty.
Tisseur made important saves in the following minutes before seeing forward Youssef Mouelhi score the last Impact goal in a 4-1 win.
“We had a first half where we controlled the game and created a few chances, but we also lacked the speed to unbalance the opponent and take the initiative to shoot on goal,” said Impact U16 head coach Nicolas Gagnon. “What’s satisfying is that it was one of our best games in terms of recognizing when to get past them quickly and when to take more time to prepare. This win feels good and the way we played too, but we still have a lot of work to do to reach our goals.”
Both Impact teams are now in a position to make the playoffs. The Impact U18 is in 17th position with seven wins, three losses and five draws, while the Impact U16 is in 31st place with seven wins, three losses and seven draws.
The next games will be just as important to strengthen the Impact’s position in the playoffs. Both teams will be in action on Saturday, April 15, in Epping, New Hampshire, to face Seacoast United starting at 10am.