Tonnos Titans title talking

The Bishop Tonnos Titans have never won a senior boys’ soccer championship since their school opened in 2004. But that shutout streak could be nearing an end.

The Titans played the traditionally strong Cardinal Newman Express to a 1-1 tie in Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association action at Redeemer University College Thursday (May 2).

Photo: Gerry Graham

In recent history, Cardinal Newman and the defending champion St. Thomas More Knights have, between them, maintained a lock on the league’s titles.

Tonnos won its only other start this season, 4-0, over the Bishop Ryan Celtics, while Newman’s previous result was a 3-0 victory over the Cathedral Gaels.

The game between Tonnos and Newman was an intensely competitive affair with numerous yellow cards and heated comments. Both head coaches, however, say they understood why the players reacted the way they did.

“There’s always a rivalry between Cardinal Newman and Bishop Tonnos,” Titans coach Edwin Suva said. “A lot of these guys know each other. They are either on the same team or play against each other on their respective rep teams. So there’s a history there.

“I’m sure with the boys there’s a lot of pride just for bragging rights. It gets fiery at times, but it’s all good competition. We’re very strong about discipline.”

Two years ago, Tonnos lost to Newman in the league final on penalty kicks at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Newman coach Gerry Moretuzzo said Tonnos should be regarded as one of the favourites to take top honours in 2013.

“This group of kids came up from winning the junior championship,” Moretuzzo said of Tonnos. “A lot of the guys at Newman lost to them. That’s why the chatter got going.”

Tonnos opened the scoring in the opening 10 minutes when Alex Rizzuti fed a crossing pass to Daniel Perfello, who headed the ball past Newman goalkeeper Phil Gillen.

Newman – finalists last season – answered with a goal 10 minutes into the second half. It was scored on a penalty kick by Marcus DiLoretto.

The key moment late in the contest, however, came when a penalty shot by Anthony Valeri of the Express was stopped on a diving effort by Titans’ goalkeeper Yannick Golanbari.

“That was a game-saver,” Suva said.

“Both teams had chances. We hit a crossbar and a post. It’s always a positive result to tie Cardinal Newman or even come close to winning against them.”

Moretuzzo said he was pleased Newman fought back to gain the draw but disappointed his charges didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to grab the win against a strong team.

“The penalty shot near the end, I didn’t think was a penalty,” Moretuzzo said. “I guess justice prevails, right?”

Suva says Tonnos has a solid crop of Grade 11 players in the lineup and he looks forward to next season, as well.

Entering Thursday’s games, St. Thomas More stood alone in first place with a 3-0 record.