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A celebration of soccer in Valley East

There was plenty of reason to celebrate Saturday at the Howard Armstrong Sports Complex in Hanmer.

Honouring the memory of a passionate fan of the sport who passed away far too early, the local soccer community gathered for the annual Fabio Belli Memorial Soccer Festival, inviting teams aged twelve and under to gather and showcase their skills on the field.

At the same time, Mayor Brian Bigger was on hand, presenting the Greater Sudbury Soccer Club (GSSC) with the Ontario Soccer Association bronze certification under the Club Excellence Award program.

“It’s a testament to all of the hard work that has been done, over numerous years, with a number of clubs coming together to form the Greater Sudbury Soccer Club, recognizing the need to work together for the kids and for Sudbury soccer,” said GSSC president Joe Snofl.

Like all amateur sports organizations in the area, Snofl concedes his group continues to focus on trying to better themselves. Yet there are elements that he feels would shine through, allowing the GSSC to become the first Northern Ontario club to have achieved this recognition.

“Our club head coach, Giuseppe Politi, is one of the best soccer coaches in Ontario – period,” said Snofl. “We’re making sure that we are working together, trying to do things right. I’m not saying that it’s always right, but being inclusive and getting feedback from parents and coaches, it means we’re on the right track.”

“With coaches, we’re trying to support the coaches in getting certified, but also support them on the pitch, watching games, getting feedback, trying to retain them and listen to them,” Snofl added. “We have a lot of players who are graduates of our program that are now giving back through the coaching ranks, and we’ve done well in trying to include them.”

While the sport, particularly at the competitive youth divisions, have dealt with their fair share of ups and downs over the course of the past decade or two, Snofl sounded an optimistic note in looking to the future. “We have a number of younger teams coming up, and I’m looking forward to seeing what those kids, over the next three years, five years, ten years, have to offer.”


In Huronia District Soccer League action, the SDSC (Sudbury District Soccer Club) Celtics 16U boys have avoided the basement of league standings, holding on for a 3-2 win over Muskoka FC in their penultimate regular season home game this past Saturday at the James Jerome Sports Complex.

Jordan Pincivero paced the Sudbury attack with a two goal effort, with Stefano Mastroianni adding a solo tally, while Josh Lawson and Jaden Miller replied in a losing cause for Muskoka. The Celtics now find themselves at 3-6-2 (11 points), five points back of Barrie (3rd place) and eight better than Muskoka. The locals close out their 2017 campaign with a home game, this Saturday, versus the Orillia Lightning, before facing Collingwood United in an HDSL Cup semi-final match September 9th in Barrie.

“I think our team is better than we were a few years ago,” said four year veteran defender Andrew Simser. “We just started to play more as a team, we used to play more as individuals. All of our goals have been assisted, it’s almost never just a solo performance, and everybody is sharing the ball.”

The SDSC reps built up a 3-0 lead on the visitors, capitalizing on their speed up top and some timely ball distribution. “We were looking for through balls, and we were sending them at the right time,” said Simser. Conversely, the home side also allowed Muskoka to make a game of it, falling into that trap that catches so many teams with a comfortable lead.

“I think we dropped off the pressure, stopped putting pressure on them when they had the ball,” Simser suggested. “As a defender, I would like us to continue to play normally, like we did at the beginning of the game. Especially in this game, it seemed that our midfielders had no pressure on the ball, that it was only our strikers. We need to focus on having our midfield stay in the middle of the field, even when we’re up.”


On Sunday afternoon, Noah La Sorsa netted his second goal of the game in the 89th minute, tapping is a lovely goalmouth pass from Kevin Martin Rojas, allowing the SDSC Celtics U18 boys to salvage a 3-3 tie with Collingwood United.

Martin Bulic added the remaining goal for the Sudbury crew, while Brendan Danaher, Ewan Botelho and Daniel Botelho countered for Collingwood. “We were short, I think we had just one sub,” noted La Sorsa after the game. “Nonetheless, it was a very hard fought game by both teams. We’ve played them since our Huronia season, we know they are a good team.”

Making the jump to the Central Soccer League two years ago, the Celtics encountered the typical eye-opening experience that so many local teams endure. And try as they might, long-time coaches and administrators seldom seem to be able to efficiently translate the message, to the players, about the jump they are about to make, moving from the HDSL to the CSL.

“When we got promoted, it was a lot different,” said La Sorsa. “You get promoted and you think you’re on top of the world, and you’re now a little fish in a bigger pond. It’s a completely different style of play, a lot more physical than Huronia, a little faster.”

“Last year, we didn’t finish very well, but we got a lot of experience and brought it in to this season. I think we finished five or six places higher than we did last year.” In fact, the SDSC lads boasted a final record of 4-6-2 in the summer of 2017, good for eighth place in a 13-team bracket. With 19 goals scored and 25 allowed, the team was far closer to playing even soccer than they were in 2016.

“Our finishing was much better this year than last year,” said La Sorsa. “Last year, we struggled to score goals, I think we popped in maybe seven or eight. This year, we’re getting a lot more shots, connecting our passes, playing to our strengths.”

The 2017 roster for the SDSC Celtics 18U boys included Ben Runciman, Blake Tilson, Hunter Adams, Jacxsen Cress, Jonathan Grebe, Kevin Martin Rojas, Kiel Cress, Martin Bulic, Mathieu Archambault, Nicholas Graham, Noah Gascon, Noah La Sorsa and Tate Kontoniemi.

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