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Monday, Nov. 19, 2018
Bringing together two worlds of GSSC soccer
by Randy Pascal

Initial plans called for the Greater Sudbury Soccer Club (GSSC) to field a pair of elite older girls/women’s teams this summer, with one competing at the U18 level, the other in Open Women’s. Unfortunately, the challenges of garnering enough of a commitment from student athletes being pulled in multiple directions would eventually force the Impact to merge the soccer talent into a singular U21 entry.

That might not be a bad thing at all, given the intriguing make-up of the crew that Dayna Corelli takes into OWSL (Ontario Women’s Soccer League) play this year. While there are stragglers in the group, the core of this team will be comprised of the 1997-98 born talent that Corelli had worked with in their youth, combined with the 2001-2002 GSSC Impact crew who started, years ago, with coach Marilyn Bodson.

Heading into her fourth year with the Laurentian Voyageurs, CND graduate Brianne Rodrigue is as much the face of the veterans of this team as anyone. As such, she understands the issues in keeping her long-time teammates involved. “We’re all at that age where we are trying to figure out if we have to work all summer, or if we can play,” she said.

“It makes the decision difficult. If you can handle juggling everything and organizing your life around what’s really important, it can work. For me, having a chance to touch the ball and staying in the game dynamic, rather than just practicing on the side, is important.”

A well-established starter with the Voyageurs, Rodrigue is looking forward to taking advantage of a more relaxed setting – well, certainly more relaxed than OUA action – to work on aspects of her game that are key come the fall season at Laurentian.

“I talked to Dayna about playing on the wing, just like I do at Laurentian, and really practicing taking people on more, trying out some moves that I wouldn’t necessarily try against OUA players.” While Rodrigue and her age bracket are familiar with the younger wave that is being assimilated, the reality is the two groups have never combined before, at least not in a competitive setting.

Not to worry, suggested the 21 year old local product. “You can see that a lot of them are a little nervous about playing, technically, at a higher level than where they have,” said Rodrigue. “I think they will be fine. They’re pretty young, but they are picking things up pretty quickly.”

Grade 11 Marymount Academy defender Cassidy Burton comes at it from the other side of the fence. There’s no denying that there is an anxious anticipation in play for her and the remaining girls in her age bracket. “We don’t really know a lot of them, and they don’t really know a lot of us, but I’m excited to see how we can learn from them.”

“I’m anxious to see the different style that they play. It’s going to be interesting to mix the styles of our core girls and their core girls and try and find a good balance.” Where Rodrigue can view her summer soccer as something of an exhibition tune-up for the post-secondary encounters to which she is now acclimated, Burton and company will be cranking it up a notch, starting to perfect the skills they will need to make the same jump the elders did, not all that long ago.

“For me, it’s about showing composure on the ball, being calm, taking my time, making a good pass instead of just kicking it out when I’m under pressure,” said Burton. As for the young woman who seeks to bring it all together and create a little summer magic, Corelli knows that patience must be shown, taking it one step at a time in molding the final product.

“People that I have already coached get used to a certain terminology, a certain way of doing things,” she explained. “Really, this is just about getting everybody up to that standard, bringing everybody to the same point. The challenge is bringing a competitive practice environment for all of them, keeping your higher level players challenged and involved, and getting those that are coming into the system to emulate and become role models, just like the older girls have been.”

“Everybody is here for the same reason, so there’s a bit of unity here,” Corelli added. In the end, the coaching fixture in recent years with the Cambrian Golden Shield soccer programs is aware that she needs to look at both core groups from a slightly different perspective.

“We’re working with the veterans in really clearly defining their roles, knowing they have a heavier role as a leader,” said Corelli. “With other players who are fitting nicely into the lineup, my expectations are a little bit different. I just want them to mold into their position and start improving.”

Despite the existence of some uncertainty within the lineup, the head coach maintains a very crystal clear vision of what will constitute a solid season for her team. “It would be disappointing if we didn’t see ourselves in the top half of the league,” she said. “That would be us under-performing.”

“Considering that we do have some players who would have been set to play in the provincial league, I expect that they are trail-blazing a bit in this league and setting a standard. My expectation is not that we simply go out and go through the motions. We still have the quality to do well.”

“As younger girls, we’ve always looked up to the U21 team as somewhere we would eventually go,” noted Cassidy Burton. “So this will be fun.”

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