After posting a 1-2 record in their initial foray into the Indoor Ontario Cup circuit in 2023, the GSSC (Greater Sudbury Soccer Club) U14 Impact boys were back to take another stab late last month, part of group of eight that included five GTA entries, including the powerhouse Glen Shields Juventus crew, along with teams from London and Thunder Bay.
Overcoming a rough welcoming session against Juventus, the Sudbury lads proceeded to win their next two round robin games, earning a berth in the semi-finals and upsetting the Group A first place squad (Toronto Azzuri SC) before settling for silver versus Glen Shields.
“I think our team played really well in part because we had more time on this field (indoor Lancer Dome),” said Impact midfielder Alex Ben-Anteur, the team back in town this past weekend, hooking up for a friendly with the Impact U16 boys. “We did a lot better at passing and getting more goal opportunities.”
“The first game we played very nervous, even afraid,” noted head coach Moises Santos. “That game did not go too well for us so we knew that we had to turn up the heat if we wanted to beat the two other teams in the group stage.”
“We made a few changes to our strategy, built up some confidence with our players and were able to have a dream afternoon with a solid defensive line and the entire team coming together.”
Recording key victories against both the London Alliance FC Mustangs (2-1) and Milton Youth SC (3-1) secured second place in Group B for the Impact, a placement that offered them a date on Sunday morning with the Azzuri.
After falling behind 1-0 early in the contest, the northern lads pulled even before the half and then netted the game-winning goal with only 30 seconds remaining in the encounter.
“We entered the final with a short roster and little time between games, facing a very strong opponent with a deep roster,” noted Santos. Looking to play more compact and defensive, the Impact kept the damage to a minimum, trailing 3-1 in the second half before throwing caution to the wind, opening things up as Glen Shields pounced opportunistically on their chances.
“They have an amazing roster and deserved the win, but our team never backed down until the last seconds of the game,” Santos stated proudly.
“I’ve played with this team since age four,” added Ben-Anteur. “Practically the whole team is back. We just enjoy the sport. We have a lot of fun when we are together – and we spend a lot of time together.”
Joining the grade eight student at Ecole St Denis on the Sudbury roster are Brendan Goffin, Daman Lalonde, Mohammed Najem, Waylan Croome, Angelo Kalonji, Samuel Lazare, Nathan Estriplet, Domadius Aziz, Iliyas Sambo, Xander Millett and Logan Anderson.
Joining Moises Santos as part of the team staff are assistant coach Nicolas Lazare and team manager Ivana Croome.