Weekly Column now appears in the Northern Life - every Thursday
It’s very quickly becoming to the Sudbury summer soccer schedule what the Big Nickel Tournament is to the local winter scene. The Panhellenic Tournament is easily the largest draw for out of town youth soccer squads to our lovely little neck of the woods and continues to build a base of solid repeat business.
Some may bemoan the fact that there is still plenty of success being garnered from the out of town contingents who took to the pitch for the annual celebration of both soccer skill and Greek heritage, but I, for one, believe it’s a wonderful thing.
For the Panhellenic tournament to grow and prosper, it must attract some of the better teams in the province, even if that comes at the price of loading up the local trophy case. And it wasn’t as though the Sudbury contingent was shut out of the medal hunt, as we’ll see over the next few paragraphs, taking a look back at the 10th annual edition of the summer-time tradition.
In fact, it was an all Nickel City final for the U-13 Girls crown as the Panhellenic Thunder blanked S.C. Italia Diavoli 2-0 in the championship affair, with Laura Ozoria and Carlee Parisotto handling the scoring for the victors. The teams had opened divisional play on Friday evening, registering a scoreless draw in a grouping that also drew teams from Collingwood, Barrie and Rayside-Balfour.
The Panhellenic Storm U-14 Girls displayed a stifling overall team defense, recording five consecutive shutouts that was culminated by a 4-0 whitewash of the North Bay Stingers for the second local title of Sunday afternoon. Kara Lloyd netted a pair of goals to lead the Storm offensively, with Michelle Graham and Courtney Ceccarelli adding singles.
The Panhellenic Lightning made it a clean sweep of three of the older divisions of girls action, nabbing the U15-16 banner with a 2-1 win over the Bradford Eagles. Michelle Jacques and Brigitte Lamothe found the back of the net for the Panhellenic crew, who also recorded very competitive 2-0 victories over both the Woodstock Pacers and North Bay Fitzgerald Roofing en route to the finals.
A slightly easier pathway to a tournament title for the Panhellenic United crew, who picked up four straight wins facing the North Bay Wolverines, Orillia Lightning and Panhellenic Storm. Joey Martellacci registers the hat trick in the final as United bounces the Wolverines 5-1, with single markers coming courtesy of Chad Ringstead and Owen Montpellier.
Interestingly enough, the bulk of the most hotly contested divisional battles seem to spring up from the younger age brackets, including the U-13 Boys bracket that featured a total of 12 teams, including representatives from Oshawa, Newmarket, Whitby and Burlington.
When the dust settled, the Panhellenic Spitfire had more than held their own, blanking Oshawa Turul 1-0 in the semi-final game before falling to the Erin Mills Eagles in the Gold medal encounter.
While Sudbury was not represented in the very last game to be completed early Sunday evening, the West Storm Rouge and Barrie Spirit gave the assembled crowd a wonderful sendoff with a 12-player shootout needed to decide matters.
And there is no denying that Sault Ste Marie representatives made a strong case for the “one club system”, a soccer organizational framework that is present in most other parts of the province outside of Sudbury. The Sooites gathered representative and houseleague youth soccer forces under one banner some two decades ago and while talks are continuing locally which may bring a similar system in place in Sudbury, it is certainly a long way from a done deal.
In the meantime, the Sault Civics contingent would leave Sudbury with three championship banners in hand with another pair of teams finishing as finalist Silver medalists in their respective classifications. Winning teams from our Northern rival included the Sault Civics U-11 girls “A” team, Lucidia Sault Civics U-12 girls and the Prouse Firebird Sault Civics U-16 boys.
The Burlington Thunder downed the Thunder Bay Chill 3-0 to return south with the U-11 boys crown, the Brampton East Flames were easily the class of the U-12 boys grouping while the Barrie Spirit, who provided great support to the Panhellenic event, sending seven teams North for the tournament, capped off the list of championship teams by capturing the U-15 boys crown.
It may not yet have the draw that the Big Nickel clan can attract, but give the Panhellenic Tournament time. At just ten years of age, the event is still young but definitely heading in the right direction.