HARRISBURG, Pa. – Penn FC and Toronto FC II played a lively match that ended in a scoreless draw as the Blue and White bid farewell to its veteran center back Tiago Calvano during the team’s season finale.
The Brazilian defender wore the captain’s armband in the final match of his professional career that spanned 18 years and six countries. The Penn FC backline came alive in the first half under Calvano’s stewardship as the Blue and White held Toronto to only one shot and one corner kick.
While Penn FC conceded the majority of possession to the MLS affiliate, Penn FC was aggressive in its challenges and won nearly 58 percent of the duals. Toronto was stonewalled as it tried to advance the ball into the midfield.
Penn FC took advantage of turnovers and opened up its own offense. The attack regularly drew Toronto fouls and the Blue and White nearly broke through on set pieces. Lucky Mkosana was fouled in the middle of the field in the 35th minute and earned a free kick. Paulo Junior stepped up and delivered a ball to the waiting head of Haruna Shaibu in the box. The Ghanaian defender headed the ball on frame, forcing a quick save from Toronto’s goalkeeper.
In the 48th minute, Fabio De Sousa -- who was a 30th minute substitution after Prince Baffoe went down with a knock -- drew a foul on the right wing. Junior, again, delivered a dangerous service into the box. The ball flew over the masses while a streaking Calvano shook his man and nearly got a foot on the ball. However, the Brazilian connection was denied as Calvano was a millisecond late and the ball bounced out of bounds for a goal kick.
Forward Aaron Dennis found provided another bright spot on the offensive end as he nearly found his late-summer form with a trio of rocket shots that beat the goalkeeper but drifted just wide of the goal post in every instance.
Toronto nearly found the go-ahead goal several times in the second half but was shut out by an active Romuald Peiser. The French goalkeeper earned his sixth clean sheet of the season with five saves in the second half. Despite Toronto recording six of its eight second half shots inside the box, the veteran was resolute between the pipes.
The draw marked Penn FC’s third straight match unbeaten against Toronto FC II. The Blue and White previously won the last two matchups against the MLS affiliate with wins both at Toronto and at FNB Field. However, with Penn FC only winning each of the previous matchups by a goal, the rivalry between the two sides will be alive when they meet again in the USL League One in the 2020 season.
Already eliminated from playoff contention, the match also marked the end of Penn FC’s 2018 season. In its inaugural season under the new Penn FC name, the Blue and White played a rollercoaster season as it created its identity under first year manager Raoul Voss. The team put together impressive runs during the bookends of the summer as Penn FC flirted with a playoff appearance deep into the regular season.
Now, the team will enter a hiatus during the 2019 season. The Blue and White are set to play again in the 2020 season in USL League One and will look to rebuild the prestige and add to the legacy of professional soccer in Harrisburg, Pa. and greater central Pennsylvania area.
Fans are encouraged to follow Penn FC on all social media platforms as well as www.pennfc.com for the latest news and updates as the team works towards the 2020 season.