Shortened season makes for tight races in H-S soccer
by Randy Pascal
If one could write as one could read, then I suppose I would be writing this column in the voice of an auctioneer. Cramming high school soccer regular
season schedules into a stretch of just over two weeks requires a need for brevity that borders on the absurd.
The good news?
Despite their very limited time on the pitch, the players and teams that are partaking this spring seem intent on creating some very good battles, both
for the local hardware, as well as the coveted spots awarded to those who will move on to NOSSA playdowns.
Senior Boys – Premier: With four of the seven teams still unbeaten after one week of play, little has been decided in the early going of
this division. That's fine, because a net result of the shortened schedule lies in the fact that everybody makes the playoffs.
League champs from 2013 to 2015, the St Benedict Bears are off to a solid start at 2-0-1, a stretch that included a 4-3 win over the Lo-Ellen
Park Knights (1-2-0), as goals from Michael Reich (2), Isaac Julien and Robert Krueger were just enough to offset counters from
Max McCue, Dax Mazzuchin and Cameron Boland.
Following two straight losses, the Knights finally hit the win column on Friday, blanking the winless Lasalle Lancers (0-3-0) behind a pair of
tallies from Luca Nardi, as Lancers' head coach Matt Cootes deals with the loss of game-changing midfielder Calum Passi (broken foot).
The St Charles Cardinals have rolled over their opponents, scoring 11 goals in their first two games, thanks to a highly balanced attack that
features the likes of Arnaud Florien, Jack Jordan, Ryan Teddy, Pedro Campos and Nick Gnahore.
Capturing their first SDSSAA boys soccer banner in school history last May, the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes are right in the thick of things at
1-0-1, blanking the Horizon Aigles 2-0 and playing to a 1-1 draw with the Bears.
While folks might not want to read too much into just one game, a 2-1 triumph for the Lockerby Vikings over Lo-Ellen on goals from Tyler
Dupont and Dario Beljo was enough to breathe a little extra confidence into a roster that also features defensive stalwart Ryder Johnston
and top-end goaltending talent, Nolan Berthelette.
“We're kind of like underdogs coming in, nobody expected us to do well this year,” said Dupont, who hones his skills outside the secondary school setting
with coach Brian Ashton and his U21 Northern Soccer Academy crew. “We came in and worked hard as a team and I think that's all that matters.”
“All we've got to do is try and move the ball,” he added. “Everything we do in practice is all about teamwork. Because we have so little time together,
we really have to use our practices to work as a team.”
Senior Girls – Premier: Multi-sport athletes are front and center for the girls teams showing the way after week one action, as recent
Esso Cup participant Madison Laberge has drilled home no less than seven goals in leading the Confederation Chargers to back to back
victories over both the CND Alouettes and Horizon Aigles.
Meanwhile, hockey netminder Kristen Mrozewski has tossed aside the blocker and pads in favour of the cleats, finding the back of the net on four
occasions as the Lo-Ellen Park Knights sit tied with Confederation at 2-0-0, besting the St Charles Cardinals and Lasalle Lancers.
Interestingly enough, while this division has crowned five different champions in the past six years, neither the Chargers, nor the Knights, are among
this grouping. Same holds true for the Lasalle Lancers, who share third place with Notre-Dame at 1-1-1, with Grace Cranston showing the way
offensively for Lasalle.
The Alouettes, who have three SDSSAA banners since 1993 to show for their girls soccer efforts, including the last in 2013, have rebounded from a 3-0
loss to Confederation, playing to a scoreless draw with Lockerby before trimming the Marymount Regals 1-0, as Vanessa McKinnon emerged as the
unlikely goal-scoring hero.
“This is my first year playing soccer, since like age four,” said the grade 11 student, who joins Kristen Mrozewski as just two of the girls who cracked
a Sudbury Lady Wolves Midget AA 2019-2020 roster that features plenty of turnover from the provincial championship squad.
“I'm used to using my hands to shoot,” McKinnon continued. “With my feet, I don't have really good shooting co-ordination. Shooting is not my strong
suit.” So what to make of her goal? “Emma Lapointe passed it to me and I used my speed and ran to the ball. The goalie misplaced it a little bit and
I was in front of the net to get the rebound, I guess.”
Senior Boys – Second: Given that second division schedules do not wrap up until early June, even less can be gleaned from the small
handful of games that have been played to date – except that the Bishop Carter Gators may be poised to finally break through with their first
championship crown in this classification.
With Lucas Oliveira (8 goals), Daniel Lukoff (3) and Owen Guse (2) leading the charge, the Gators have not only opened the 2019
season with three straight wins, but sport, more impressively, a 14-2 goal differential after the trio of outings to date.
Senior Girls – Second: Still another team raising some eyebrows in the hopes of reaching lofty heights, never before attained, are the
Espanola Spartans girls, following up a convincing 6-0 win over Bishop Carter with a 1-0 whitewashing of the Macdonald-Cartier Panthères, a
school that walked away with Premier Division bragging rights just two seasons ago.
Junior Boys: Last but not least are the troika of teams battling it out for Junior Boys honours. Though the teams will play just a double
round robin schedule, the action promises to be intense, given that no school survived week one play without a loss: St Charles (2-1-0), Notre-Dame (1-1-0)
and Confederation (0-1-0).