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Monday, Nov. 19, 2018
Lasalle playing well at just the right time
by Randy Pascal

For the past few weeks now, Lasalle Lancers' girls soccer coach Matt Cootes had been noting, with understandable pride, the improvement of his young troops.

Thursday afternoon at the James Jerome Sports Complex, the remainder of the SDSSAA Girls Soccer league took notice.

Despite finishing in fourth place in their pool (“B”) with a record of 0-3-1, the Lancers upset the first place (Pool “A”) Marymount Regals (3-0-1) 3-1, continuing a recent stretch of progress. In fact, Lasalle had closed out the abbreviated regular season with a 1-1 draw with the St Charles College Cardinals followed by a tough 1-0 loss to the Confederation Chargers.

“We started a little bit late and things weren't really coming together at the start,” noted 15 year old high school freshman Jayda Cacciotti. “We realized, the first game, that we had some work to do, and I think we all stepped it up as a team and just kept going and going and going.”

With the teams deadlocked in a scoreless draw, the Lancers exploded for three strikes in the final forty minutes, with Cacciotti squeezing the game-winning goal between a pair of markers from Hay-Lee Lavigne. Mackenzie Watkins converted on a penalty kick for Marymount.

“I was out on the sideline and I knew I had to mark my man, because they channel to the left,” recounted Cacciotti. “I knew I had to do something to get away from her when we had the ball. So I moved even more to the sideline and played wide. Brook (Howard) got the ball and she timed it perfectly for me. I could hear people on my tail, so I ran my heart out, tried to place it as best as I could and it just went in.”

“I knew she was standing more to the left, and I'm left-footed, so it would be even more challenging for me,” Cacciotti explained of the memorable goal. “I knew I needed to get it into the right corner, because that's the farthest distance away from her, so I tried to cross my foot over. It wasn't the most perfect kick I've ever done in my life, but it ended up in the right spot.”

Much like Lasalle, the Lo-Ellen Park Knights did not exactly bolt out of the gate a few weeks ago, dropping their season opener, 6-0, to the St Charles College Cardinals. Like the Lancers, the Knights found their way to the final four on Thursday, besting the Lockerby Vikings 3-1. Victoria Suotaila scored twice for Lo-Ellen, with Gia Grossi adding the other, while Veronica Dynes countered for the Vikes.

“We didn't practice outside before that first game,” noted Lo-Ellen striker Aliesha Spourdalakis. “In high school soccer, it's such a quick season, so you really can't prepare that much. We just kept our heads up, we knew it was a rough game, a rough night, but we started all going out together at lunch time and bonding a lot. In high school soccer, that bonding and chemistry can really change the game.”

Despite the tough sledding early on, Spourdalakis and company were confident they had the talent to compete, if combined with a proper game plan. “We have a lot of skill in each position – defense, midfield, offense – and we've got a lot of speed with our strikers,” she said. “What we wanted to do was keep it to the outside, because they have strong players in the middle, so keep it to the outside, send it up, and keep on our toes for the counter attacks as well.”

The evening finale between the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes and Confederation Chargers provided, far and away, the most dramatic finish of the four quarter-finals. Dealing with a handful of key injuries, Alouettes' coach Ryan Love opted to implement a defense first approach that worked to near perfection.

With less than a minute remaining in the second ten minute overtime session, the Chargers flooded the box on a corner kick and were rewarded when Ryleigh Brown drilled home the game's only goal, moving Confederation on to a semi-final match-up next Friday.

“They were really good on defense this entire game,” suggested 17 year old senior Sophia Masterson-Pinedo of Confederation. “They weren't letting us get in and that goalie (Emma Lapointe) was insane. We were making her work, but she was keeping us out. We wanted to make sure we just kept the pressure on, got as many people in the box as possible. We knew that if we just kept shooting, something would go in.”

“That last one was a total team effort, everyone going at it, and we got it in the end.” It was a particularly rewarding moment for the pending University of Toronto Kinesiology major, come September. After suffering a complete tear of her ACL and meniscus in her very first high school game in grade nine, Masterson-Pinedo has spent the past three years as a team cheerleader on the sidelines.

The current campaign marked her first full season with the team. “It's good to finish on a high note, and it's nice that NOSSA is coming up. That feels kind of good. This has been my only year actually playing. I've had injuries and stuff.”

In the very first game of the day, the St Charles College Cardinals likely set themselves up as the favourite heading into action next week, looking very solid in registering a 5-0 win over the Macdonald-Cartier Panthères.

Lillia Samuels and Emma Dionne scored two goals apiece for the winners, with Olivia Legendre adding a solo tally.

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