London ball

Crowd quieter as ECFC women lose to London

It was a decidedly more reserved crowd that attended Electric City FC’s Premier League game on a blustery Saturday afternoon at the Fleming Sports Complex.

ECFC Women fell to top-placed FC London 1-0, Julia Benati scoring the game’s only scorer with an 84-foot kick in the 83rd minute.

With members of the team’s supporters group, Current 1819, suspended pending an investigation into an incident during the team’s last game, it’s the men’s side of Electric City, its family and friends who sat behind the goal to cheer on the women.

Those seated behind the net wore special Unite Against Racism t-shirts, which the men’s and women’s teams designed together.

“The players wanted to show that as an organization we have zero tolerance for any of the things that happened,” head coach Randy Ribeiro said. “I’m super proud of them for coming together…to show where we stand. It’s not who we are; that’s not our point. We are inclusive here.

The unity the t-shirts represented was special for ECFC striker Aysia King, who was named the team’s hardest working player of the game.

“I’m half black, half white, so hearing about the incident really hurt my heart,” King said. “Coming here and putting on a show and showing everyone that the organization is united meant a lot to me and my team. We want to make it clear that we have zero tolerance for this, and it was good that we were all able to represent this on the shirt.

King said the absence of the usual cheers and jeers behind the goal did not affect the way the team played, saying the women were trying to tune out the crowd noise they were hearing.

“Obviously we appreciate them and we missed them today,” she said, but the importance of the game was what mattered on the pitch.

The teams drew 0-0 after the first half. Kayla McQueen had a great chance to open the scoring in the second minute of the game, but London goalkeeper Jadyn Steinhauer dove into her net for a low save.

Marisa Oliveira got a free kick in the 24th minute but fired it wide.

Electric City goalkeeper Mykaela Volpe made several good saves in the final minutes of the half; in the 37th minute, she deflected a dangerous shot over the net, stretching her fingers to flick the ball and redirect it. On the restart, she showed her quick reflexes, forced to leap forward and pick up the ball. Volpe then came out of the net to challenge a London player in the last minute of the half.

ECFC were awarded a second free kick as time expired, but Rylee Traicoff’s sharp angle kick landed in a crowd in front of the net.

“We’ve been looking forward to this game for some time, so the fact that we can go in and be 0-0 at halftime means a lot to us,” King said. “There is a lot of confidence in our team.

Electric City’s best chance of the game came in the 58th minute after Angelika Mihalopulos delivered a fine pass to McQueen, but the angle was too steep and Steinhauer made the save.

A lucky Simone Chiodo free-kick in the 89th minute was blocked by a London defender before it even approached the net.

Much of the play happened late in the SCCE during the second half, which Ribeiro blamed on the strong winds blowing across the pitch.

The next women’s game is next Wednesday in Burlington. They return home on June 25 to welcome NDC Ontario to Fleming.