A Sudbury competitive soccer round-up
by Randy Pascal
With his team entering the final four games of the OWSL (Ontario Women's Soccer League) Central Region U-21 division still with a distinct
possibility to climb in the standings, one would think GSSC (Greater Sudbury Soccer Club) Impact U-21 Girls coach Jeff Falcioni would be
hell-bent on demanding critical victories.
Unfortunately, reality sets in. "The last two weekends, I thought the girls played fantastic, considering the situation they were in," he explained last
Sunday, as the Impact closed out the season with just one tie to show for their last four outings, posting an overall record of 4-7-1.
"Last week, we played three games with eleven players and no regular keeper," Falcioni noted. "I can be pleased with the individuals that showed up for
the games, even if I'm disapointed for the team with the lack of loyalty that some players have to their teammates."
"My biggest goal for the last two weekends was simply not to get anyone hurt, and we were successful in doing that," he said. "Any points that we got,
we were more than happy with. The kids played like warriors, in my opinion."
Despite the challenges, the locals had victory in reach on Sunday. Holding a 2-1 lead with just over ten minutes to play, the Impact surrendered a pair
of late goals in allowing the Bryst Football Academy to escape with a sweep, defeating the locals 2-0 and 3-2.
Courtney Ceccarelli scored both goals on Sunday in the loss. Rachel Parker, Maggie MacKenzie and Megan Dinatale found the back of
the net in helping lead Bryst to their come-from-behind win, with Kendra Challis handling all of the scoring with a pair on Saturday.
A long-time coach in Sudbury, Falcioni has heard the excuses made time and time again that the north simply cannot compete against the south. His
experience would suggest otherwise.
"In Sudbury, we have a distinct advantage," Falcioni stated. "Very few of these out of town teams train very much, largely because they have to play
mid-week games. We have the advantage of being able to train, repeating certain things."
"We don't take advantage of it."
After a rough start to the 2013 season, the GSSC Impact continued their inspired play of late with a pair of exciting games on the road last weekend.
Facing the undefeated Vaughan Azzurri Vixens in CGSL (Central Girls Soccer League) Cup play, the Impact forced the contest to penalty kicks before
surprising their high-riding opponents with a 1-1 (4-2).
The Sudbury side wasted little time opening the scoring, with Riley McEwen doing the honours in the 10th minute, but that only seemed to awaken
the powerhouse squad from Vaughan. By the 17th minute, the game was dead even at 1-1.
While both teams enjoyed some quality scoring chances, Impact keeper Megan Coutu and her counterpart with the Azzurri were up to the task, keeping
the contest tied. With just five minutes to play, Vaughan was awarded a penalty kick, with the ensuing shot drilled squarely off the goal post.
With Cup game rules dictating a move to penalty kicks immediately following regulation time, the drama mounted. Esther Moreau, McEwen and Brenna
MacMillan converted with three of Sudbury's first four chances, while Coutu turned aside the Azzurri twice with a pair of key saves.
With her team holding a 3-2 penalty kick lead and the game on the line, Kaitlin Houben sealed the deal, making no mistake in lifting her team
through to the CGSL Cup semi-finals in Port Perry on September 21st.
The momentum from the win and the additional confidence that the Impact have gradually garnered was useful on Sunday as the locals battled the Whitby
Iroquois "A" team, a crew that had manhandled the Sudbury girls 5-0 in league play back on June 8th.
The rematch would be notably different. Deadlocked in a scoreless draw, the Impact ladies would face some adversity when defender Aymie Holota
broke a finger while completing a slide tackle.
In the 60th minute, Coutu charged hard to intercept a well-placed Whitby cross. Unfortunately, her dive to the ball coincided with the strike of her
opponent, leaving the visitors not only trailing 1-0 as the ball came loose, but also minus their keeper, now out with a broken nose.
With McEwen stepping in between the posts, the northern girls fell just short, dropping a tough 1-0 decision. The team is one of many local Impact
squads back in action this weekend at the Impact Soccer Tournament in Sudbury.
The Sudbury Canadians faced one last obstacle, they hope, and overcame it with ease. Battling the third place Guelph Royals in their final
homestand of the year, the Canadians remained unbeaten in OWSL Regional Premier action, bouncing the visitors 4-2 and 6-1.
While goal scorers were not made available for the Sunday encounter, Saturday's win was led by a two-goal effort from Karolyne Blain, with
Tiffany Johnson and Serena San Cartier adding solo markers.
San Cartier and Blain have run away with the goal scoring race in the Premier league, netting 18 and 17 goals respectively, almost double that of
Courtney Whiteside of Guelph, sitting third with nine goals.
Improving their record to 12-0-2 this year, the Sudbury ladies have surrendered just over a goal a game, allowing 15 against while topping the loop
with 59 goals scored.
The Canadians need only a season-ending sweep of the last place Aurora Stingers (1-9-2) this coming weekend on the road to clinch first place once