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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
A first time OFSAA run for CND boys soccer team
by Randy Pascal

There's was a city championship almost forty years in the making. Perhaps it was that pent-up anticipation that ultimately propelled the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes boys soccer team to a historic fourth place run at the recent OFSAA “A” Championships in Niagara Falls.

Just a few weeks back, the Alouettes claimed the first ever SDSSAA Premier Boys Soccer banner in school history, edging the storied tradition that is the St Charles College Cardinals, 2-1 in overtime. A senior laden Notre-Dame squad followed that up with an impressive showing in their single game NOSSA showdown in North Bay, blanking the West Ferris Trojans 5-0.

Still, as many can attest, OFSAA is a completely different animal entirely.

“We were expecting to go in there and try our hardest, try and get that one goal, win that one game,” said senior striker Noah La Sorsa. They would do that and more.

Buoyed by the recent return of ultra-talented keeper Hunter Adams, the Alouettes showcased their defensive acumen right from the start, playing the University of Toronto Schools Blues to a scoreless draw. The locals would claim their first victory before the end of day one, blanking the host Niagara Christian Collegiate Navigators 1-0 on a goal from Julien Tubin.

No slowing down the next morning as the northern crew edged the John McGregor Panthers from Chatham 2-1, with Connor Brooks and Alex Rossini both hitting the mark for the winners. First place in their pool was secured thanks to a 1-0 CND triumph over the Ursula Franklin Academy Flames from Toronto, with Brooks handling the offense and Adams registering his third clean slate of the tournament.

The drama really picked up come the playoff round, as the Alouettes and St Paul Wolverines (Mississauga) required eight rounds of penalty kicks before the Sudbury lads advanced to the final four with a 3-2 (5-4 win). Julien Tubin and Noah La Sorsa found the back of the net for CND.

The final day of competition would prove the toughest for the local reps, falling 3-1 to eventual gold medal champions Guido de Bres from Hamilton and suffering a heart-breaking 1-0 (6-5) loss, in a shootout, to the Ecole Secondaire catholique Renaissance Phoenix from Aurora in the bronze medal encounter.

Still, there was little, if any, disappointment in the voice of players and coaches following the antique bronze (fourth place) showing. “There was a whole group of us who have played summer soccer together for the last two or three years,” noted grade 12 three year vet James Colburne. “We had some really good young players who were willing to step up in the big moments.”

“Everyone this year just really stepped up their game a lot, and it all worked out for us.” The final product proved quite encouraging, considering that early season signs were something of a mixed bag. “At our first game, I don't even think we had a practice, just because the fields were so wet and our gym was being occupied by track and field,” said Colburne.

“We were just very anxious to get out there and see what we've got. Thankfully, we had a couple of futsal tournaments at the beginning of the year and that helped us prep for the upcoming season.” One of a dozen players who will complete their time at Collège Notre-Dame later this month, Colburne acknowledged that the timing could not have been better for such a memorable campaign.

“This is definitely the best sporting season that I've ever had,” said Colburne. “For one, we won cities, which we've never done before. At OFSAA, we did more than what we expected to do. It was a really good winning year, the best way to end my high school career in sports.”

While some might have envisioned something of a letdown for the Alouettes after their emotional city final upset of the Cardinals, Noah La Sorsa sensed the huge victory worked in exactly the opposite manner. “Once we got a bite of that chocolate, we got a taste of it and wanted to eat the rest of it, the whole chocolate bar,” noted the Laurentian Voyageur hopeful, with an interesting analogy.

“It was kind of like that. We got a taste of winning and what it feels like to be a successful team. We got that feeling at cities and wanted to feel it again at NOSSA and OFSAA.” And while the Alouettes may not have been able to triplicate their gold medals at the SDSSAA and NOSSA level once they were pitted against the best in the province, there remained, nonetheless, a huge sense of satisfaction.

“You hear the term OFSAA and everyone considers you to be among the elite of the elite,” added La Sorsa. “It's a great feeling, especially in your last season, and I wouldn't have wanted to do it with another group of guys. It's the best soccer I've played in high school. Everything just clicked.”

A big part of the reason for that came certainly in the form of an intriguing coaching staff, something of a six-headed monster that included Dominik Valentic, Tom Mikic, Petar Valentic, Natalie Dionne, Max Michel and Sam Michel. “Our goal, as a coaching staff, was just to make sure we went out there and that we were competitive,” said Mikic.

“You want the kids to be the best that they can be. You try to give them the tools and the help that they need to succeed. We were basically there to help them out.” No surprise then that the long-time local soccer mentor recognized a rather unique chemistry brewing as his CND crew molded into form over the course of the past few months.

“I'm sure if you look over the years, I'm sure we weren't the most talented bunch of players,” said Mikic. “But the thing we noticed, right off the bat, was that we had twenty players that were willing to do whatever it is we wanted them to do, sacrificing minutes for the team, playing out of position – they were willing to do anything. My hats off to them for that.”

The 2018 edition of the Notre-Dame Alouettes senior boys soccer team included Luc Couture, Keenan Rocca, Malcolm Sheehan, Sean Roberts, Kaleb Mikic, Hunter Adams, Samuel Branconnier, Nicholas Graham, Connor Brooks, Sébastien Bouchard, Bradley Chaput, Noah La Sorsa, Nicholas Rumford, Marco Vigna, Viktor Bulic, James Colburne, Alex Rossini, Julien Tubin, Nicolas Doucet and Mathieu Gareau.

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