The Panhellenic 1994-95 Girls can hardly wait to kick-off their inaugural season in the Central Girls Soccer League (CGSL). In fact, they’ve been training twice a week all winter long at the Indoor Soccer Centre after they became the youngest Sudbury team to ever get accepted into the nine-team league that includes teams from all over Eastern Ontario.
Up until last year, the CGSL never accepted a team from the north until the U-14 age grouping, but the Ontario Soccer Association (OSA) changed their Pyramid of Play regulations this year allowing for the entry of a U-13 squad.
“We just applied and told them that we were qualified to play,” explains third-year head coach Kevin Roach. “I think we’re good enough to finish in the top six.” Should they be successful in accomplishing that goal, they’ll avoid becoming one of the bottom three teams that will end up being relegated to a lower division.
Roach, a coach for various other teams for the last eight years, admits the transition from the Sudbury Regional Competitive Soccer League (SRCSL) to the CGSL will be challenging. “The first half of the season is probably going to be tough because the teams that we’ll be playing against will have been playing in that league for two years now and this will be our first,” he says. “It’ll probably take them about half a year to get used to the speed of the game and to get used to playing against the higher competition.”
Playing as part of the SRCSL last year, Panhellenic competed in an age division one year up, but still managed to end up in second place. This year’s team will feature six new 12-year-old players, which the coach expects will give the team more speed on the outside. Of course, those additional players won’t be brand new to the sport since they’ve all played for other teams in the SRCSL before.
The remainder of the team has been together for three years now, so Roach expects that this will bring a lot of cohesiveness and chemistry to the group. Overall, he believes the team has a bright future and will be strong defensively, but admits they will have to improve on their scoring touch going forward.
“Every year, I would hope to get a little bit stronger, but we’re shooting for when they’re 16 that they’d be able to compete for the Ontario Cup,” he says. “This year, we’re hoping to get to the quarterfinals of the Outdoor Ontario Cup.” Forty-eight teams from all over the province are slated to take part in the competition beginning July 28.
Prior to that, the team is hoping to enter four tournaments, including one in Mississauga during May, which they’ll be using as a warm-up since teams down south get to start playing a few weeks earlier. Afterwards, the Pan ladies are scheduled to take part in a second tournament in June in Ottawa, another in Unionville during August and closing with a September tournament in Richmond Hill.
“We’re hoping to make it to the finals or maybe even win one of the four,” proclaims the coach. Their 16-game regular season will spring into action May 25 in Unionville while their first home game will take place at Cambrian College June 5th.
Once the season starts, the team will gather to train three times a week. No matter what happens tough, Roach notes that he just loves the game, watching the kids succeed and reminiscing of his summers of soccer in his youth. He made sure to pass on the tradition as an adult coaching both of his daughters, Jenna and Melynda.
Both girls have been integral parts of the Laurentian Lady Vees program for the past few years. “I think there have only been two Sudbury girls’ teams that have ever advanced to the finals of the Ontario Cup,” he says. “My oldest daughter, Melynda, went to the finals with her team when she was 16 and then my youngest, Jenna, when I coached with her at 17.” It certainly gives the 1994-95 Panhellenic girls something to shoot for.