YORK REGION – As Peter Schaale waved goodbye to HFX Wanderers FC fans for the season with an eye toward returning to Cape Breton University, York9 FC midfielder Emmanuel Zambazis prepared to step out on the field at York Lions Stadium.
It’s a strange juxtaposition, of course, as York Lions Stadium is the home to Zambazis’ own U SPORTS side, the York Lions.
But, with Schaale opting to return to school as per the CPL-U SPORTS arrangement, Zambazis has taken a different course of action, revealing his decision to remain with York9 FC instead of returning to school in September.
His decision seemed justified as Zambazis enjoyed a dominant showing in midfield on Saturday, despite his side succumbing to a 2-0 loss against Valour, compounded by a last-second Michael Petrasso goal on an open net.
Even so, York9 head coach Jimmy Brennan was full of praise for the 22-year-old he drafted in the 2nd round, 11th overall.
“With Zambi, he’s been great since he’s come in,” Brennan said of Zambazis. “He’s a footballer. He fits our style of play. We worked on him a lot with how we play and our philosophy. There’s a lot of movement; our game is all about movement, and he’s really grasped it now. He understands what we’re looking to do with wide guys coming in and the two 8’s dropping into a 6, and the 9 dropping out as well.
“Our whole game is based on movement and I thought he was very good today; his rotation and movement and vision, all good. He’s settling in great and that’s why we’re happy, as well, that he’s staying and not going back to play for York Lions.”
Zambazis offered his gratitude to the team as well, and said his decision to stay was made easier by the environment and culture at York9 FC, in training and on the field.
“I’ve tried to come in and help the team as much as possible,” Zambazis told reporters after the match. “It’s been good, getting to play with the guys and the recognition is there in midfield.
He added: “It means everything to me (to play for York9). Obviously the level is much higher and being in a professional environment as well is huge. I’ve enjoyed it. I really love coming in every day and training with the guys and I’m happy to stay.”