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Cyclones kick-off Saturday against London FC

Cyclone: “a system of winds rotating inward to an area of low atmospheric pressure, with a counter-clockwise (northern hemisphere) or clockwise (southern hemisphere) circulation”

A bit of a tricky concept to wrap your head around, at least initially – until the visual gradually sinks in.

Members of the expansion Sudbury Cyclones can absolutely relate.

The revived franchise which makes its first appearance since the eighties this Saturday versus FC London might not produce the intended final product this weekend as the gathering of talent who have largely not co-existed on the same pitch begin to garner some familiarity.

The men who have committed to the task at hand, however, do plan to lay it all on the line, offering an entertaining brand of play in their inaugural season in League2 Ontario play, all while trying to wrap their minds around exactly what this all might look like in the end.

“With all of us coming from different backgrounds, we’re trying to mesh together as a team, especially with a game coming up this weekend,” noted 19 year old striker / attacker Jaiden Santo. “We’re focused on getting our formations together. Once our formations are meshing well, we should be working well from the back out.”

“It’s kind of weird with the majority of our team being built from all different teams,” added teammate and keeper Lucas Cidade. “We’re going to have to learn on the fly. We have five guys from Laurentian so we have our chemistry built there, but the problem is linking to the other teams.”

The presence of a core of talent which also represented the Laurentian Voyageurs last fall provides a starting point for head coach Giuseppe Politi, a man who has worked with less and still enjoyed success. While no one is about to make any grand predictions entering their very first game together, the 2024 Cyclones have assembled a roster of athletes for whom competitive soccer was a way of life in their youth, now carried into young adulthood.

“The majority of the team actually has League 1 background,” noted Santo, just completing his second year with the Voyageurs after making his way up north from Brampton. “We know what to expect, especially with the level of play. We don’t know much about the (specific) teams that we will be playing, so adjusting quickly will be a bit of a challenge.”

Earning an OUA second team all-star selection last November, the product of Sigma FC is tackling one of the tougher challenges on this new team: trying to create offense for a side that is expected to focus first and foremost on defensive soccer early in the year.

“I’m here to score goals,” stressed Santo, who has experience at striker, or out on the wing, or even as an attacking midfielder. “I just have an attacking mindset. I’m a forward at heart.”

That versatility will likely come in handy for the young man who has recorded a half dozen goals already in his career at L.U. – his knowledge of all three positions pretty much a given.

“At 9 (striker), I try and get a little bit more behind and try connecting play with my midfielders,” explained Santo. “At 7 (wing), I get to be a little more creative, unpredictable, lots of 1 v 1 action.”

The soccer man in Santo understands all too well the need to exercise a bit of caution as the Cyclones get their bearings in the new league – even if it runs counter to his natural instincts.

“Going into the first game, I know that we want to focus a little more defensively,” he said. “But we’re also an attacking mindset team and during the season, we can slowly escalate our team to be that offensive threat.”

In the meantime, the work of Cidade and the back-line gents most responsible for keeping the ball out of the Sudbury net is likely to be critical in attempting to garner early competitiveness.

“We want to play more conservatively in the first game,” noted the native of North York who transferred from Nipissing to Laurentian in the summer of 2022. “As a keeper, you’re not really out of your box much (with that style of game), you’re not dealing with the ball as much.”

“But it depends also on what we are coming up against,” added Cidade. “You have to go a little bit instinctively. As a goalkeeper, you have to react to what’s coming at you.”

An interesting part to his story lies in the fact that the now Kinesiology – Concurrent Education major did not actually fully commit to the goaltending position until well into his teens, often splitting his time between the posts and the right fullback position. Heck, it’s not even a given that the role of keeper is an ideal fit for Cidade.

“I’m not the tallest – six foot on the dot – but I do have some athletic abilities that come with that,” he said. “I just kind of learned how to play the position on my own.”

And now, like most, Cidade can hardly wait for the 2024 season to get started.

“It’s definitely a new experience and I’m excited for it.”

Players that are expected to dress Saturday versus London include Timi Aliu, Rohan Henry, Jaiden Santos, Nico Patenaude, Adrian Josephs, Brandon Moxam, Lucas Cidade, Isaac Ajani, Chanely Francois, Cedric Devos, Hayden Lloyd, Luke Harrop, Douvoy Broomfield, Jack Collins, Ethan Mendes, Josh Bondoc, Stan Pankiewicz and Michael Marcantognini.

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