The end of summer soccer season is drawing near for the various recreational leagues in the area, with the majority of the groups closing up shop with year-end tournament play over the course of the first three weekends of August.
On Saturday, all 20 teams involved with the Nickel Centre Minor Soccer Club will gather at Falconbridge Fields, celebrating another summer of soccer enjoyment with one final stretch of action.
On Thursday night in Falconbridge, the U6 crew were already appearing in playoff form. A tightly contested affair would see the Jade Timbits open up an early 2-0 lead, as both Andrew Anstey and Evan Roy struck from close range.
But with their opponents looking to put things away, the Orange Timbits started to claw their way back, halving the two-goal deficit thanks to a well-placed shot from Dean Clarke. Trailing 2-1 entering the second half of play, Clarke and his teammates would pull even when Bryston Aubé hit the mark, setting the stage for an ultra-exciting final ten minutes or so of action.
Jade looked to have things sealed as Anstey netted his second goal of the game, only to see Orange counter, with Kaitlyn Forigo feeding a precise pass into Clarke, who made no mistake in finding the far corner of the net. A fine playmaker in his own right, the seven year old grade three student at Ernie Chekeris Public School tends to keep it to the basics when asked about the key to good passing.
“I make sure it goes to my player, to the orange team,” he said. “I like soccer. I like running, and I'm pretty good at it.” When he did build up a head of steam, more often than not, Lucky Stevens was there to intercept, the last line of defense for Team Jade. Easily the best defender on the field, Stevens is not necessarily enamored with a position at which he excels.
“I don't like to play defense,” he said. “But when you are there, you just have to kick it out, really hard.” Having some experience in hockey as a winter-time pastime, the grade two student at Northeastern Public School had no trouble identifying a preference.
“I like soccer better, because we play outside and get to kick the ball more.” Play on Saturday begins at 9:00 a.m., with championship encounters set for 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. The Sudburnia Soccer Club will also be busy, with the U14 Girls, U18 Girls and U18 Mixed divisions all deciding their champions on Sunday at the double fields at St Charles College.***********************************************************************************
As one soccer schedule closes, another opens almost immediately. Both Laurentian Voyageur varsity soccer teams are welcoming athletes to Sudbury this weekend, with both teams fully into the rigours of tryouts and training camp by early next week.
A program best nine-game unbeaten string last fall spurred the L.U. women to a final record of 7-5-4 (25 pts), good enough for fourth place and home field advantage of the first round of the playoffs, this in spite of dropping their first three games of the year.
The Voyageurs used home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs to advance to the divisional semi-finals for a second straight year, edging the Ryerson Rams 2-1 in overtime. After Victoria Watson (Ryerson) and Samantha Selkirk (LU) traded goals in regulation time, Sarah Sanford would advance the Voyageurs, finding the back of the net just as time expired in the second of two 15 minute O/T sessions.
That was as far as coach Rob Gallo and the girls would get, eliminated with a 2-0 loss to the first place UOIT Ridgebacks as the OUA championship host team scored twice in the second half for the win. The Voyageurs were rewarded for their efforts, however, with no less than three players named to the East Division all-star team.
With an impressive seven shutouts on the season, keeper Caitlin McNamara was named to the first all-star team, along with stalwart defender Allison Pilon. Midfielder Catherine Rocca earned the nod on the second team, her second straight year earning all-star status.
Coach Carlo Castrechino and the Laurentian men also enjoyed a better than .500 season, finishing with a record of 8-7-1 (25 points), securing fifth place in the OUA East, but forced to go on to the road for the first round of the playoffs.
The L.U. lads had picked up key victories against Ryerson (1-0), Queen's (2-1) and Toronto (2-1) along the way, but fell in overtime, also against the UOIT Ridgebacks as the locals made in-roads against some of the elite of the division.
A three time team MVP, keeper Connor Vande Weghe was named to the East Division first all-star team, joined by no less than three teammates on the second unit. Midfielders Evan Stronach and Nicholas Correa both cracked the honour roll for the very first time in their careers, as did defender Liam Ezzard.
Both Laurentian teams kick off the 2018 schedule at home on Saturday, August 25th against the Carleton Ravens, the women taking to the pitch at noon and the men at 2:15 p.m. The Ottawa Gee Gees provide the opposition for the L.U. ladies the following day, also with a 12:00 p.m. start time.