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Competition at the core of Impact U14 girls team

Competitive soccer is not for everyone.

Hours and hours committed to practices, games and tournaments, much of which occurs, in northern Ontario, during those precious few months where outdoor enjoyment need not be accompanied by extra layers of clothing, are all part of the package the players and parents sign up for.

Sophia Oommen, Kylee Hitchen and the balance of the GSSC (Greater Sudbury Soccer Club) Impact U14 girls would have it no other way.

“We go from you don't really have to show up for a practice to you have to show up for every single practice and game,” said Oommen, explaining the jump from the recreational ranks. “You have to mentally tell yourself that this is a different game.”

This is year two with the team for the grade eight Lo-Ellen Park Intermediate student and she is already noting a difference as the squad reconvenes for a second summer of Huronia District Soccer League (HDSL) action. “I think we have a stronger team this year,” said Oommen. “We have girls that are very committed. They come to practice and will train.”

Even from a technical standpoint, the girls are conscious of a refinement of their skills. “Our ball control, I find we're better at that,” said Oommen. “This year, we're all pretty good at dribbling around players and getting the ball up. Doing that in the defensive area is key.”

“That's where we really have to make sure that we are controlling the ball and passing it and getting it out, too.”

And if they fail to do so, Kylee Hitchen and Cadyn Goulais will be there to bail them out, standing post on the last line of defence. “Somebody saw me playing in net and thought I was pretty good, so the next year, I played in net again,” said Hitchen. “This year, I'm playing in net and out. It gives you an opportunity to know both perspectives.”

Goaltending, however, seems to run in the family, with older sister Alyssa having donned the pads on the ice with many a local hockey team, over the years. “I think I have the courage to play in net,” said Hitchen. “I can run at the ball and pick it up and I wouldn't be scared that it would hit me.”

“I wouldn't really think like that. You have to have that extra competitive mindset.”

The team kicked off play in the HDSL on Wednesday, recording a 2-0 win over the North Bay Lakers, as Sydney Coe and Kiara Levac found the back of the net in the second half, and Hitchen registered a clean slate in her first outing of the season. “I could see everything pretty good,” stated the keeper.

“Most of the shots came from pretty far out and I made sure to go out of my net.”

It didn't hurt that Hitchen found herself on the north field of the James Jerome Sports Complex, a clear-cut preference for the local product. “The grass (south field) is much longer and much dirtier and muddy, so you don't really want to jump in that. It's really nice playing on the turf.”

Rounding out the GSSC Impact U14 girls roster are Andrea Begic, Danika Gray, Kaija Beljo, Kiana Levac, Alexandra Buttery, Brooke Dugas, Samantha Bourdon, Addison Johnstone, Amanda Bourdon, Paige Goudreau and Danica Peltier.

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