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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
Alouettes deny Cardinals a soccer sweep
by Randy Pascal

For much of Tuesday afternoon at the James Jerome Sports Complex, the St Charles College Cardinals appeared intent on registering a soccer championship triple-header sweep.

The Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes senior boys had other ideas.

Midway through the first of two ten minute overtime periods, Noah La Sorsa pounced on his chance, making a nice move in tight to Cardinal keeper Kam McCue and snapping a 1-1 tie, lifting CND to their first SDSSAA Open Premier banner in program history.

"Their keeper was coming out," recalled La Sorsa. "I have a right knee injury, so I was kind of hesitant to use my right (foot), but there was no point in hitting it with my left. The keeper was off his line and it looked like I wasn't going to be able to put it on the ground, so I chipped it over."

"Luckily, it got to the close post and bounced in. It's a great feeling, especially in such a big game like this." A key member of the GSSC (Greater Sudbury Soccer Club) Impact U21 men's team, La Sorsa was very much on the same page and the team staff when it came to his usage, given his troublesome knee.

"The coaches had a very smart game plan," he said. "They put me on for little bursts at a time. Obviously, if I felt pain, I would come off. Usually, that's a good indicator to get off." After being upset in the semi-finals by the Sacré-Coeur Griffons in 2017, the Alouettes returned intent on overcoming some early season setbacks.

"We came out here with a different mindset, this year," said La Sorsa. "It's a new season, a new team. But we've had the odds against us since the beginning, it seems. We had no Hunter Adams (all-star starting goalie - injured), we suffered a couple of other injuries, but we always had a positive mindset, and at the end of the day, we were getting the results we wanted by playing hard for each other."

St Charles opened the scoring when Jacob Kruk jumped all over a rebound of a shot by Aidan Martel, only to see Notre-Dame even the score less than five minutes later. A throw-in deep in Cardinal territory worked its way to Keenan Rocca, who drilled home the equalizer.

The tone for the overtime game was set in the Open Girls Premier final earlier in the day. The St Charles Cardinals and Lasalle Lancers battled through 80 minutes of regulation time and two ten minute overtime sessions, without either team finding the back of the net.

It would take penalty kicks to settle matters as Lexie McNamara, Emma Dionne, Sidney Turcotte and Olivia Legendre all converted their attempts for the Cards, with Lasalle missing on two of their four shots.

The encounter was not the final most envisioned early in the year, with the Lancers posting a record of 0-3-1 in the regular season, but catching lightning in a bottle in the playoffs. Demonstrating rapid game over game progression under the tutelage of coach Matt Cootes, the underdogs proved to be a tough out for a St Charles team blessed with a little more "on paper" talent.

"We knew Lasalle was going to play defensively, and they did," noted St Charles' head coach Kristy Hebert. "We just emphasized to the girls to keep their heads up, and eventually one of the chances had to go in, not to get discouraged, and just stick to the game plan."

Part of that game plan involved trying to neutralize speedster Hay-Lee Lavigne at the top of the Lancer formation, a duty Hebert presented to Cardinal freshman Nora Dzuirban. "Nora is used to playing center mid or striker," said Hebert.

"I asked her how she felt about playing back end, as stopper. We knew that Hay-Lee was going to come out strong, she is so quick, so it was a good match-up. I didn't think Nora gave her a lot, so it let us kind of attack and counter with extra bodies. She (Dzuirban) is always up for a challenge and just didn't back down, and it made all the difference today."

While she was pleased with the performance right across the roster, Hebert also made mention of goaltender Katie Pichette, attempting the position for the very first time this year.

"You don't realize how big the net really is," commented Pichette of her first impressions as a keeper. "I'm not usually a soccer player. I play hockey, with a much smaller net. But I'm not the best runner, so I asked where I can fit in best on this team, because I really wanted to be part of the team."

Splitting time with Kira Moffat for most of the 2018 campaign, Pichette was cognizant of the gradual improvement in her game. "My hands got a lot better," she said. "At the beginning, I was fumbling it everywhere."

"In hockey, you can just have the puck hit you. I was not used to catching it (with two hands), so I was just kicking it a lot and it was bouncing all over." In the opening game of the day, Praise Kyenge handled all of the scoring for the St Charles junior boys, drilling home a hat trick as the Cardinals edged the Notre-Dame Alouettes 3-2.

Bois Joan Mandu replied with both goals in a losing cause. All of the teams competing on Tuesday are back in action Friday for NOSSA playdowns, with events hosted in Sudbury/Lively (Girls "A"), North Bay (Girls "AA", Junior Boys, Boys "A" and "AA") and Sault Ste Marie (Boys/Girls "AAA").

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