It was S.C. Italia II and the Panhellenic U-21 teams which came out with decisive victories over Elliot Lake and the Sudbury Athletics respectively in the Sudbury Regional Competitive Soccer League (SRCSL) men’s soccer first division semi-finals on August 25 at Queen’s Athletic Field.
In the first semi-final, S.C Italia II controlled the ball for most of the game and enjoyed a lot more quality chances to score than Elliot Lake, but couldn’t put the ball in the net early. Finally, Izzy Rubai was able to score on a penalty kick just before half time following a flurry of activity in front of the Elliot Lake net.
In the second half, Elliot Lake was also awarded a penalty kick early, but they could not capitalize on their chance. After a few more good chances for SC Italia II, Tony Cuza was able to finish and staked his team to a 2-0 lead with approximately 20 minutes to go in the game. That opened the flood-gates for Italia as Devin Desjardins took over and potted two more goals late in the game to lead his team to a 4-0 win.
“To me, it was a complete domination overall,” says Izzy Rubai, the 25-year veteran on the team. “Defensively, forward, mid-field; I think we were better overall. I think they gave us a hard time the first half, but as soon as we scored the second goal, the goals kept coming. Plus, we could have had more.”
S.C Italia had plenty of chances to score in the game, but were unlucky on a number of occasions as they managed to hit the crossbar twice and the post once on their way to the victory. Still, the players were happy with their performance.
“I think our good passing definitely did it for us today, along with good ball control,” says John Cimino, whose been on the team for 20 years. “Devin (who scored twice) was the focal point of the game.” S.C. Italia II finished first in the First Division this year after a third-place finish last year. The team's coach believes the improvement is all thanks to the youthfulness and desire of his players.
“The players played hard and with a lot of heart,” says Tony Nuziale. “I’d say half the team is brand new this year, so we’re a little younger and faster.” Looking forward to the final, the coach believes they will be successful if they continue to play the same way they’ve played during the season. “As long as the guys bring their game to the final and play with the same intensity, I think we’ll do great.”
In the other semi-final, Panhellenic U-21 was able to take control of the game early as Brent Huffels scored approximately 20 minutes into the game. Luis Parada added two more goals before half-time, one on a tough-angle shot and the second after he beat the Athletics goalie to the ball.
With Panhellenic U-21 up 3-0 at the half, final 45 minutes featured more of the same as the team controlled the ball and had the better of the scoring chances. Parada completed the hat-trick on a tip-in with a few minutes remaining in the game before John Hussak kicked the fifth goal with the team cruising to a 5-0 win over the Athletics.
“Our defense pulled through pretty well,” Hussak concluded. “Our strikers were finishing tonight and everything was going pretty well.” The team struggled a bit during the beginning of the year having to deal with a short bench, but they were able to come out with the victory in the semi-final.
‘We finally had enough players to put in a decent game and came out with the victory so it feels good to finally beat those guys,” says Trevor Beange, whose been on the team for the last eight years. “We beat them once, but for the majority of the games this year, they already beat us. We couldn’t really score against them, but we ended up scoring five goals in the game today because it was a playoff game. We wanted it more than they did.”
Beange is now looking forward to the final against SC Italia II and expects a close game.
“It’s going to be a fast-paced game with a lot of contact,” he says. “It’ll probably be low-scoring because we’re both pretty defensive teams. A full bench and passing, as well as using the field, will be the keys.”
As for the Athletics, Dino Moretta, a member of the team for much of the past nine years, was disappointed with the game and the season overall. “I think we got out-hustled,” he says. “I think they controlled the ball a lot more in the mid-field. Looking back at the season, I was a little disappointed. I thought we’d do a lot better than we did. I think the team didn’t gel. We had a lot of new players.”
He figures the team needs to find a pure striker and some more skilled mid-fielders. Also, he thinks a lot of the team’s problems stem from the fact that the Athletics did not field a premiere team this year because they didn’t have enough players.
“I think it would add a little bit more prestige to the club,” he says. “When you have a premiere team, you can attract a lot better players and it gives people something to play for. So, we’re hoping to put in a premiere team next year. I think we have a good core of people that can move up to the next league.”
The First Division final is scheduled for Monday evening at 7:00 p.m. at Queen's Athletic Field with the Premier Division finalists grabbing the spotlight one night later at the same location. The Premier final features a pair of teams that surprised in semi-final play, with Croatia Adria battling Sudbury Panhellnic R & A Consulting for league supremacy.