The "Sudbury Soccer Snapshot" is a weekly feature that is being presented courtesy of Martin Martic Dentistry. Each and every week, from May 1st through until the end of September, a weekly newsletter will be produced, covering off much of what is on the go in the world of competitive soccer locally.
As well, a recreational soccer "game of the week" will be highlighted, rotating between the various houseleagues that exist in and around Greater Sudbury. In the off-season, the newsletter will scale back to a bi-weekly feature, focusing heavily on the hundreds of young soccer players who shift to the indoor game as the fields become snow-covered for the winter.********************
There is little doubt that within competitive youth soccer circles in Sudbury, the "amalgamation" year is among the more difficult to traverse. In recent times, at least, the U13 age grouping is typically where members of two or more previously competing teams suddenly merge their efforts, in the hopes of tackling the challenge of provide-wide opposition.
No different in 2014, with former Laurentian Voyageur defender Tony Tagliafierro heading up the GSSC (Greater Sudbury Soccer Club) Impact U13 boys team, while Marilyn Bodson takes on the same role with the young ladies.
For Bodson, it's a matter of building a cohesive unit from the elite of the Sudbury Rocks and Sudbury Lady Lightning, making the best of a sometimes difficult situation.
"I thought it was going to be harder, because I knew that I was going to lose some of my teammates that were good," noted 12 year old Isabella Cantin. "But now that we've joined, I've made more friends."
"A lot of the girls were on the Regional team and had trained together, so we already knew each other," added midfielder Kaitlyn Chevrier. For her part, coach Bodson was anything but oblivious to the task that would be facing her pre-teen athletes.
"We knew in the last year or two that they would eventually be amalgamated," said Bodson. "Last summer, we had a few practices on the same field. At the end of the season in August, I ran practices right up until the end of October and invited both teams."
Still, the reality is that the combined team is only half the battle the young ladies are about to face. Part two is the jump to the Central Girls Soccer League (CGSL), where local entries have enjoyed mixed results in recent years.
Thankfully, the experience of those who have blazed this trail not all that long ago has created a U13 Impact squad that is entering this season with their eyes wide open.
"We think that it's going to be rough (physical)," stated Cantin. "It's going to be competitive, but we've trained a lot. I think we're ready, and so do the other girls."
"The intensity will be different, a lot higher," agreed Chevrier. "But the way we're going to play will be mostly the same. We're going to give it everything we have."
No surprise that the energetic coach has a clear idea of the work that needs to be done. "We have to start talking a lot more out there," admitted Bodson. "A lot of the girls play really well, but they don't communicate enough on the field."
"We have to play the ball faster, and we have to be better on the offensive part of the game," she continued. "We are a good defensive team. It's to maintain possession once we gain possession of the ball."
Yet Bodson is nothing if not stoked about the inherant potential of her new team. "Every player on the team has something wicked that they can do really well," she said. "What's nice here is that we have different talents on this team."
"It's up to me, as a coach, to put them in a position where they will shine."
The 2014 Impact U13 girls team includes Korey Bodson, Isabella Cantin, Alisia Spouderakis, Cassidy Burton, Jacklyn Krueger, Madison Laberge, Lexi McNamara, Eden Santi, Kaitlyn Chevrier, McKenna Cresswell, Crystale Trottier, Bianca Toppazzini, Olivia Legendre, Mackenzie Watkins, Ariane Saumure, Paige Savard, along with coaches Marilyn Bodson, Mike Spourderakis and Steve Chevrier, and manager Shon Cantin.********************
For the U16 Impact girls, it's not a matter of adjusting to a bunch of new teammates. Moreso, it's the challenge of getting up to speed with the system of play that accompanies the team's third head coach in two years, Giovanni Rocca.
Working primarily with Jon Hussak the last couple of years before a work-related move took him away from Sudbury late last summer, the ladies closed out the 2013 campaign with assistant coach Dave Szczepaniak inheriting the reins over the final few weeks.
Fresh off working with the U12 Lady Lightning (see above), Rocca is still getting his feet wet with this group, with the start of the regular season less than a week away. "I find the biggest thing is trying to determine where the girls fit," he said after practice Sunday at James Jerome.
"Most of the girls feel that they know where they should play. And different coaches may have had a different system. I have to have them believe in a philosophy that sees them play in a position that's going to work for the team," Rocca continued.
"We'll determine more on the fly next week. It's definitely going to be a work in progress for the first couple of games." Positioning, however, is not the only signature stamp that Rocca envisions placing on the team.
"I want us to attack early and often," he said. "I want my team winning all 50/50 balls. I believe that if you win those 50/50 battles throughout a game, those little battles will help you win the war at the end of the game."
The good news, for Rocca, is that he takes over a team that has both enjoyed success at CGSL Level 3 play, something of a rarity for Sudbury squads, as well as working with a group that features a core stability of talent that, for the most part, have played together for the past three or four years.
Sixteen year old Kayleigh Coufal returns to patrol the back line, a move that she made one year ago, still fine-tuning the precise detail of the position.
"I'm still working on my positioning, jockeying, knowing when to step up and when to play back," acknowledged Coufal. "But I think we've gotten better as a group. A lot of our girls are playing high school soccer, and I think that's helped step up our game."
The U16 Impact are among the earliest to begin league play, hosting the Richmond Hill Raiders on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. at the James Jerome Sports Complex (turf field).
"I hope we play our game, because I know that we're all going to be a little nervous," conceded Coufal. "It would be nice to get our first win in our first game." As for the coach, he is quick to admit that there are certain advantages in making the leap from U12 to U16 Level 3 soccer.
"Jumping to this age group, it's apparent that a lot of the girls are already super-talented," said Rocca. "Every girl on this team already has the fundamental skills of the game, they understand the concept of the game."
"I won't be trying to change a player, just try and help them improve."GAME ON:
At Home - Impact U16-G vs Richmond Hill Raiders - Sat., May 24th - 2:00 p.m. @ James Jerome turf
On the Road - Impact U21-M @ Aurora Hearts (May 24th); @ Peterborough City (May 25th)
On the Road - Sudbury Canadians (women) @ Oshawa Kicks - May 24th and 25th
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