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Walden Soccer draws them from near and far

There are some very devoted young soccer players out Walden way.

Twelve year old Cody Clarke has played the bulk of his first seven years of soccer on Manitoulin Island, a convenient location given that the family camp is situated in Kagawong. This summer, he opted to join friends in the Walden Minor Soccer Association, making the two hour trek back to the Hillcrest Soccer Field, even for practices.

“It’s different, because I think here (Walden), it’s more competitive,” said Clarke. “In our soccer on Manitoulin, we only had two teams and we played each other every time.” The younger of two boys in the family, Clarke is a multi-sport athlete, participating in hockey, baseball and golf on a regular or semi-regular basis.

“My favourite is soccer,” he said, perhaps to the chagrin of his father (Bill), an avid hockey follower. “He likes soccer too, but he knows more about hockey, and he thinks hockey is a little more exciting,” said Cody of his dad. “I like soccer just because it’s outside, when it’s nice and hot. In the arena, you have a lot of equipment on, and you have to play at night, on school days.”

A resident of Naughton, Cora Adams is a teammate of Clarke’s with the U12 Walden Pet Food Plus team this summer. And like her teammate, she will split time between the soccer field and the family camp, just outside of Espanola.

Unlike Clarke, however, Adams finds her sporting passions to be much more limited. “I just find I’m better at soccer than other sports,” she said. “I don’t know how to play hockey, I’m not really good at skating, I don’t play ringette, I’m not really good with the stick, and I don’t know how to play basketball.”

What she does know is soccer, a sport that she started quite young, took a short break from, and then returned for two years of U10 competition before jumping up one more level this summer. “I feel comfortable dribbling the ball near the net in soccer, and I feel more comfortable playing defense,” stated Adams.

And through the dedication of her coach, she has expanded her knowledge of the game since starting play back in May. “He tried to focus us on moving apart from each other and not stay in a bundle,” she said. “And then he taught us how to pass, and make sure you are passing to someone. And if the ball is rolling towards you, you have to go towards the ball.”

Those skills and other similar ones were being put into practice on the adjacent field, as Chartrand’s Independent Grocer doubled Guardian Pharmacy 4-2 in an interlocking battle that featured a team from Rayside (Chartrand’s) versus a team from Walden (Guardian).

The teams were deadlocked 1-1 at the half, when Guardian Pharmacy grabbed the lead with twenty minutes to play, as goals from Adam Scott and Ryan Maanselka lifted the homeside into a 2-1 lead. “I found we passed the ball a lot, and we got a lot of chances to score, and we kept the ball in the other zone a lot, and when it was in our zone, a lot of us came back to help,” said Guardian midfielder Jordyn Vildis.

Unfortunately, a lack of numbers proved costly, as Chartrand’s rallied behind goals from Alex Pharand, Nicholas Chartrand and Maxime Gingras, supplementing an early tally from Jenelle Rancourt, with Eric Aubrey and Nico Belanger contributing nicely as playmakers. “I think we were just getting really tired because we had only one sub,” said Vildis.

The eldest of three children in the family, with two younger sports-minded brothers also in the mix, Vildis has found her comfort zone on the pitch, returning to soccer last year after taking a few summers off.

“I really enjoy middle mid, that’s one of my favourite positions,” she noted. “Usually the ball stays in the middle, and I like going after the ball and getting it from the other team. When the ball is near our net, I usually race back and try to get it out of there. If it’s up near their end, then I would chase after it and try to score.”


It was one of the better weekends of the summer for the Northern Soccer Academy quartet, with each and every team hitting the win column at least once. Competing in Georgetown, the 16U Sudbury girls followed up a 1-1 tie with King City (NSA goal – Arianne Saumure), with back to back wins over both Georgetown (4-0) and Soo City (2-0).

Jacklyn Krueger, Aleisha Spourdalakis, Grace Cranston and Saumure handled the scoring in the opening win, with Spourdalakis and Saumure again on the scoresheet in game three. Digging themselves an early hole, the locals could not overcome a three goal surge from North Mississauga in the final, dropping a 3-0 decision in the end.

Facing the first place MUFC crew, the Northern Soccer Academy U16 boys converted late goals from Noah Carter and Lucas Oliveira, in the final five minutes of play, into a 2-2 tie with the league front-runners. That flair for the dramatic was evident again on Sunday, as NSA again scored twice in the final few minutes, escaping with a 4-3 win as Carter (2), Oliveira and Luke May all found the back of the net.

The NSA U9 boys earned a weekend split, exploding for a 10-1 opening game triumph but suffering a 7-4 setback in a wide open second contest. The U12 boys found things much closer, playing to a 2-2 draw, dropping a 5-4 decision but turning the tables with a 4-3 victory in their finale.

Northern Ontario AAA Hockey League