Sydney FC are NPL NSW U18’s champions again, but only just.
Alex Masciovecchio’s last gasp strike proved decisive as the Sky Blues defeated a valiant Rockdale City Suns 1-0 at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday morning.
The Sydney forward and competition golden boot hero slotted a breakaway winner in the 86th minute to seal back to back Grand Final victories for Jim van Weeren’s side.
Sydney’s triumph seals back to back premiership and championship double winning seasons. It’s also their seventh consecutive win over Rockdale since their competition entrance in 2017.
That flawless record was nearly shattered by the underdogs, who came so close to pulling off a massive upset victory.
And despite the heart-breaking nature of their defeat, Steve Zoric’s side will feel their elusive maiden win over the Sky Blues cannot be far away now. The Suns were held scoreless in all three matches against Sydney in 2017, but this season has yielded massive improvement.
Rockdale’s ability to go toe to toe with Sydney was evident from first whistle, where the two teams traded blows in a fiercely contested opening half.
Fresh from his inclusion in Trevor Morgan’s Young Socceroos squad, Rockdale keeper Jacob Botic made excellent first half stops from Harry Mccarthy and Masciovecchio.
Suns forwards Noah Botic and Mouhamed Hamdache tested the waters early on too and drew strong saves from Sydney gloveman Adam Pavlesic.
The best chance of the match fell to Rockdale early in the second half, when Noah Botic’s looping header flew narrowly over the Sydney bar, while Sydney went even closer minutes later.
Jake Hollman capped a superb run from halfway with a shot that was sensationally tipped onto the post and regathered by Jacob Botic.
It looked like both sides would lament those opportunities as extra time drew closer, with Rockdale looking more likely to steal a late winner. But the Suns were punished by Masciovecchio with four minutes remaining, who steamed into open territory and beat Jacob Botic with a smooth finish across goal.
There was one last opportunity for the Suns as Botic launched the ball forward deep in injury time. The ball sat up for Adrian Neoklis, but the Rockdale substitute lashed his effort wide of the mark.
Sydney FC 1 (Masciovecchio 86’)
Rockdale City Suns 0
Sunday 9th September 2018
Leichhardt Oval, Leichhardt
Sydney FC: 56. Scott Browning, 98. Jake Hollman (111. Aaron Gurd 90’), 39. Jaiden Kucharski (95. Joseph Roddy 58’), 83. Paolo Laxamana, 37. Thomas Main (112. Antonio Saracino 81’), 78. Alex Masciovecchio, 41. Mitchell Mattison, 79. Harry Mccarthy (57. Tyson Savas 90’), 94. Fletcher Mcfarlane, 91. Adam Pavlesic, 81. Callum Talbot
Substitutes not used: 90. Bailey Toglavalu
Yellow cards: Kucharski 51’, Browning 70’, Savas 90’
Red cards: N/A
Rockdale City Suns: 58. Mohamed Ahmed, 54. Jackson Angelou (63. Ellis Bellos 69’), 46. Jacob Botic, 61. Noah Botic, 62. Adam Cukar, 47. Vinko Gacic, 57. Mouhamed Hamdache, 60. Jay Hirschowitz (56. Adrian Neoklis 78’), 50. Joshua Jenicel, 29. Tony Mrencevski, 12. Samuel Shainfield
Substitutes not used: 53. Daniel Geroski, 37. Christopher Lountzis, 65. Brandon Stefanovski
Yellow cards: Gacic 44’, Jacob Botic 44’, Shainfield 58’
Red cards: N/A
-By Jacob Windon