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Some early success in CSL play for the Impact
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The GSSC (Greater Sudbury Soccer Club) U16 Impact girls were already fielding a very solid lineup entering CSL (Central Soccer League) play this summer. Welcoming midfielder Kate Pauli to the mix only made them that much more formidable.

With the North Bay native helping to control the tempo and pace through the center of the field, the Impact opened their season in impressive fashion over the weekend, blanking East York SC 3-0 and outscoring Mooredale SC 7-1.

Though there was little doubt that the offensive firepower of Kiara Levac (nine goals in two games) certainly sparked the offense, the steady hand of Pauli, most notably in the area of critical ball distribution, allowed the Sudbury side to quickly transition from defense to offense with regularity.

Pauli started practicing with the Impact following the summer of 2019, introduced to the sport through North Bay youth soccer before playing with the Selects for a couple of years.

"The main thing is the move to the CSL was a big thing for me," she said. "There's better teams, the competition and energy in general is a lot better here."

Thankfully, a positional familiarity helped a litle more, allowing Pauli to slide seamlessly into the lineup. "Mostly, I've been a midfielder, controlling that centre, so that's nothing new for me, really," she said.

"There's a lot of things that I still need to improve upon, but mentally, I think the way that I think my game is a very important thing. It's about thinking smart, really taking care of myself."

As for the lengthy layoff between games, Pauli is pleased to note that apparently, the benefit of years and years of practice did not suddenly disappear. "The muscle memory definitely kicked in, though we were maybe a little more fatigued there in the last half," she admitted.

"There's things to improve on during the season, but for a first game, I was super happy with that."

Sydney Coe rounded out the scoring for the Impact while Kylee Hitchen recorded the shutout.

It was much the same sentiment for the GSSC U16 Impact boys, who followed up a forefeited victory (when Wexford SC was unable to field a team) with a steady 4-1 win Sunday over the Scarborough Azzuri.

Defensive midfielder Braydon Ethier-Perras broke the ice about ten minutes in, sliding nicely into a gap in the coverage following a corner kick and working his shot through a bevy of bodies in finding the back of the net.

"I remember being at the top of the box and the ball kind of rolled out to my feet," noted the 16 year-old grade 10 student at Confederation Secondary School. "I took a shot to the closest corner - there were less bodies on that side - and it went in."

Striker Nicholas McGee followed with a pair of near identical chip shots up and over the charging Azzuri keeper, calmly flipping the ball up and over his opponent. His first effort actually travelled rapidly across the length of the pitch as Sudbury goaltender Matthew Bodnar sailed a kick well past half, where McGee finished after a bounce or two.

Defender Carter Grenier closed off the scoring in the second half for the Impact, heading home a corner kick that appeared to graze the head of another player before finding the sturdy backender near the far post.

All things considered, local coaches and players alike left the field feeling fairly content with how things had unfolded.

"Obviously, I like that we won," said Ethier-Perras with a smile. "We were aggressive, we weren't afraid to head the ball. We were trying a new formation that we had never tried before, with just one striker at the top, and it seemed to work well today."

The GSSC U15 Impact boys opened their season on the road, earning a split in the GTA. Paula Grossi struck for a hat trick and the northern lads received single tallies from Atom Thususka, Chad Tullio and Maximus Aziz, edging West Toronto 6-5 on Saturday.

Scoring was much more limited some 24 hours later as Wexford trimmed the Impact 2-1, with Thususka netting the only Sudbury goal.

The GSSC U21 women's team were in tough with a home and home set with Barrie SC, a team which is paced by a handful of key OUA talent. Barrie swept Sudbury, posting triumphs by scores of 3-1 and 4-0 against an Impact team still boasting a solid core of U18 talent.

Allie Weiler scored the only goal for the locals, while the Sudbury coaching staff commended the efforts of keepers Lauren Fearn and Mia Binks, both of whom have somewhat limited experience at the position.

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