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Quality Inn - Sudbury
Paul Lefebvre - MP for Sudbury
Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019
GSSC defense waiting for the offense to catch up
by Randy Pascal

The GSSC (Greater Sudbury Soccer Club) Impact 15U Boys won't be the first local team, nor the last, to struggle mightily, early on, when facing top-end provincial competition.

After a couple of seasons of tournament play, for the most part, coach Stephane Legrand and company found themselves making the jump to CSL (Central Soccer League) competition this summer.

And though the team remains in search of their first goal of the season, now five games in, there are signs the crew is beginning to turn the corner.

Outscored 17-0 in their first three encounters, the Impact dropped a pair of 2-0 decisions, over the weekend, at home. In fact, the lads were deadlocked in a scoreless tie with the undefeated Vaughan Azzuri Sunday afternoon at the James Jerome Sports Complex.

The Impact eventually surrendered goals just three minutes apart to Lucas Di Liso and Paul Rakovalis, but only after Sudbury's Stefano Mastroianni was denied on a strike in tight, and Luke May was turned away on a first half breakaway attempt.

"Overall, I though they showed a lot more character this weekend," said Legrand. "We've had some struggles early on in the season, not having our full roster and what-not. This was our first weekend where everybody was able to attend, and it showed the difference."

"There's more intensity in the play and players came together at the right moments. We're still lacking that offensive punch, but it could be just because they are being coached by a centerback," he added with a laugh. "Overall, I'm pleased with their performance."

Though the contest remained scoreless in part due to a great goal-line save from GSSC midfielder Josh Gascon and some solid clearing from the back line, anchored by Marco Vigna in the middle, there was no denying the importance of accrobatic keeper Rowan Mullin Santone.

Diving left and right, the 15 year-old grade nine student at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School was kept much busier than his counterpart with the Azzuri, though he suggested this is likely a very good thing.

"When I was younger, I first started out as a player," said Mullen Santone. "I went in net and really enjoyed it, but my parents didn't really like me in net, because when I got home, I was all hyper, running around like crazy."

"Now, I'm getting a lot more shots, so I'm tired out a lot after a game." Bucking the trend of keepers who will easily sprout out above the six foot mark, Mullen Santone has found a way to compensate for a physical stature outside of his control.

"I need to play a lot more aggressively, and I need to fall back on my positioning a lot," he said. "If I'm not in the right position, I won't be able to get as much of my body on the ball, just because of my height."

"And if I'm more aggressive with them, if I challenge them, you sometimes get them to fumble the ball, which makes it a lot easier." Generally pleased with the overall defensive effort he has received from his squad, Legrand is anxious for his team to adapt to the quality of CSL opposition.

"This is the first time playing 90 minute games, first time playing where the intensity is higher and playing against some of the big clubs from down south," he said. "Right now, I want to see the guys just settle in a little bit. We're making a lot of little errors that we don't need to be, panicking, kicking the ball away, which hurts us in terms of trying to get our offense going."

"Once we get that elusive first goal, I think things will change." The Impact will get another crack at it at home this coming weekend, battling Sporting CP Soccer Academy from Toronto at noon on Saturday at the Delki Dozzi field.

Rounding out the 2018 edition of the GSSC Impact U15 boys lineup are Massimo Marrone, Mubaraq Olanrewaju, Calum Passi, Cameron Ieropoli, Dakota Martel, Alessio Capasso, Gabriel Campagnaro, Ryan Rocca, Cameron Moxam, Bailey Gervais, Samuel Branconnier, Michael Reich, Dante Strangis and assistant coach Matt Laurenti.

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