The Forward Press: Antinoro on That Goalscoring Feeling as ATO Sink Valour

The Forward Press: Antinoro on That Goalscoring Feeling as ATO Sink Valour

It wasn’t the finest 90 minutes of football that Atlético Ottawa will play — in fact it was a bit of a scrapfest. But Atleti weathered the rather mild Valour FC storm to emerge 2-0 victors and improve upon an already glimmering unbeaten record which now stands at 4-1-0 across all competitions. If Atleti wants to be a serious contender in this league, these are the type of games it has to win. ATO mustered the motivation to stymie a stubbornly defensive Valour on a dreary matchday flanked by crucial championship matches. To emerge victorious was sweet, but the manner of the win was just as good. Gabriel Antinoro found himself on the scoresheet for the first time this season, while he and Zach Roy more than tripled the U-21 minutes. A clean sheet was the cherry on top for Carlos Gonzalez, who, along with Antinoro, joined the post-game presser. Here are all the important details:

The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez

Photo © Tim Austen/Freestyle Photography

On a rewarding start for Antinoro: “We thought that he was ready. After the 20 minutes that he gave us in the last few games, we thought that he was ready for more and very happy for him because he has shown a great level and he has scored. For me, that's not the most important thing, but it's true that it's good for him and it's good for the team.”

On finding defensive stability: “The partnership between Amer [Didić] and Luke [Singh] is growing little by little. I feel that they are getting more solid each game and also the players that accompany the two center backs, the right back, the left back, they are working hard…I see that as a unit we are defending pretty well with great moments of high pressure. We are not conceding too much. We are trying to play most of the time in the opponent's field. I think that's one of the reasons that we are maintaining other teams out of these dangerous areas.”

On the costs and benefits of fixture congestion: “I think that every win makes you be near another win, because mentally you are in a good mood and you're starting to get good connections between the players. But it's true that the calendar is very demanding. You know, this month is going to be so demanding physically with trips, with a lot of games in a short amount of time. So it's not going to be easy to win and win and win and win. We have to try to make balance and to maintain the consistency [and] the self demand of the team. I think that that's going to be critical in this month of May.”

The Quotes: Gabriel Antinoro

Photo © Tim Austen/Freestyle Photography

On emotions after scoring and getting the win: “It feels amazing. Especially playing at home. I've always said playing at home is a special feeling and in a way, being lucky to be in the right spot and opportunistic to take my chance and score a goal…But the most important thing is the win, the three points. We knew they weren't going to come on the same mindset as they came Wednesday. We knew it would be a harder game. So to get three points out of a hard game like this, it feels amazing and we’ve just got to keep going.”

On growth from last season: “I feel more mature. I feel more ready physically, mentally and patient too, to know my time will come. I don't have to start every game. If I'm on the bench, I'm still going to get my opportunity if I keep working…I don't have the excuse anymore, ‘he's just a young guy. He's coming in.’ So now I have to play like a man, I have to act like a man, and I think I'm learning every day to get to that level.”

On learning from CPL stalwarts: “As a young guy, I just focus on being a sponge. I get the best qualities of Manny. I try to observe all of that. Ollie, Sissoko, Didić, everyone. Even the guys from last year, Nate, Max, they’re always talking to me. They say I work hard so they’re always willing to help me on the pitch a lot. And just being around those guys outside of the pitch and seeing what they do that maybe I have to do to perform to make a career like they did…I feel respected. And that’s a good thing as well.”

On the feeling of celebrating in front of the supporters: “Unreal. You always plan it in a way, like how you're gonna do it, but then when the moment happens, you just want to scream, just run around, so you kind of forget what you were planning to do. But it just feels amazing because in a hard game like this, they're supporting us for 90 minutes. So we just want to score, obviously, for ourselves, for the three points, but always also for them. They're coming under bad weather and they're still showing up. So the goal is for them and the win is for them as well.”

Photo © Tim Austen/Freestyle Photography

A surprise visit from on-loan midfielder Noah Verhoeven at the presser also yielded some noteworthy quotes. The midfielder said he’s looking to put his best foot forward at Valour having been given a chance to prove himself. Of the Atlético squad this year, “they're a good team.” He highlighted the team's defensive stability, saying, “When you have a coach like Carlos, he's very tactical. Everybody is very disciplined defensively.” He called Atleti a tough team to play against that has started well. “Hopefully they can build on that,” he added.

Atleti will be looking to bring that defensive prowess back to the CanChamp. With the match against a much stiffer opposition this Wednesday, there will be little time for adjustment, and we can likely expect a similar lineup ahead. One of the most influential players on the pitch against Valour was Abou Sissoko, who quietly contributed perhaps his best performance in red and white in the heart of midfield. The midfielder won seven duels, made three tackles and regained possession in the opposition half twice. Behind him, Zapater also had a huge hand in mitigating the Valour threat, winning five duels and regaining possession seven times. The form of these players will be crucial with Pacific FC right around the corner.

Kickoff for the two-legged knockout affair against Pacific will take place first at 7pm at TD Place Stadium on Wednesday. But expect another Forward Press beforehand giving you all the information you need to know before the match. Vamos Atleti!

About Ben

Ben Ralph is a die-hard football fan and a journalism student at Carleton. He has been supporting Everton through the ups and downs (but mostly the downs) and could not believe his luck when he stumbled across Atlético Ottawa in 2021. Now part of the Atleti faithful, his dream has always been to write football stories, and he is excited to join other fans as writers for CCSG. His football journalist idols are Adam Hurrey, James Richardson, and Charlie Eccleshare from The Football Cliches Podcast.

Read more