Channelled properly, with just the right amount of intensity, retribution can make for a wonderful motivator.
With a new coach at the helm this summer, the GSSC (Greater Sudbury Soccer Club) Impact U14 boys were not quite firing on all cylinders as Huronia District Soccer League (HDSL) play kicked off in June.
We lost both games on the road in Bradford, two big games, recalled former Cambrian Golden Shield back-line defender and rookie Impact head coach, Nick Walker. That allowed us to re-focus, because we knew that they were coming to Sudbury for two more games, and if we wanted a shot at winning the league title this year, we had to beat them twice.
The Impact stopped the Bradford Eagles 2-1 (Nicholas McGee-2) and 4-2 (Nathan Cranston-2, Braydon Ethier-Perras, Josafat Castillo) over the weekend, and then for good measure, recorded their first shutout of the summer, downing the Bracebridge Storm 4-0 Monday night on the road (Maliq Olanrewaju-3, Nicholas McGee shutout for Matthew Bodnar).
We had a very, very specific goal in mind, and by focusing just on that, we were able to get everybody in the right mindset for these games," said Walker. "I think the players understand just how hard they have to work when they are on the field. They all played with a great deal of intensity.
Working as an assistant coach with Nick Mancini and the Impact U13 squad last summer Mancini continues to provide valuable assistance this year, as time permits Walker knew that there remained plenty of opportunity for growth and development of the team that had joined forces as one true unit for the very first time just twelve months ago.
Last year, our range of play was lacking a little bit, explained Walker. We would get the ball to the forwards and let them do their thing. Now, we play more as a unit. We recognize that goals come from defenders, midfielders and forwards working together, and that goes with defending as well.
I think now, our guys are a lot more patient, Walker added. When players get the ball, especially attackers, their first instinct is to look forward, which is what you want. But now, they understand that they dont have to score right away, that they have 80 minutes to score. Its all about reading what the other team is giving you and being able to adjust, making a decision based on that.
Beyond just the tactical improvement comes the evolution of a team simply based on a combination of the natural maturing process of young athletes along with the inevitable tinkering with the roster, as players come and go. Weve added four new players to our team, one from North Bay and three from the club, and theyve all slid in seamlessly, stated Walker.
Last year was the first time coming together as a group for these kids. Before that, theyre all in our local grass roots system, playing against each other. Now that they have been together for a year, they know each other that much more.
As does the young man who takes his first shot as being the guy calling the shots. I am learning just as much, if not more, as the kids are, suggested Walker. Were sort of all going through this process together, and its a lot of fun.
The 2019 GSSC Impact U14 boys roster includes Cale Bast, Matthew Bodnar, Jack Campbell, Josafat Castillo, Nathan Cranston, Braydon Ethier-Perras, Carter Grenier, Oscar Lopez, Cole Macey, Julian Mariotti, Nicholas McGee, Maliq Olanrewaju, Ousama Quarqouz, Ryan Ricci, Blake Rosener, Malcolm Teddy, Tyler Thibodeau and Austin Rocca, with the latter doing yeomans duty, serving as primary keeper for the first handful of games this year.******************************************************************************
Long-time local soccer pro Brian Ashton has been in Walkers shoes before. Guiding the Northern Soccer Academy U21 womens team this summer carries with it a whole inherent set of challenges that differs substantially from those encountered by the folks working weekly with the early teenage crews.
Obtaining the necessary buy-in, the commitment needed to refine the skills if post-secondary soccer is the ultimate goal is not always easy at an age when work and other life commitments sometimes interfere. Still, Ashton has noted a geographic disparity that is, at the very least, intriguing.
The girls from North Bay never miss a beat, never miss a training session, he said, after his team split a pair of weekend games in Sudbury. Weve trained with this group three to four times a week for the past few years. You might get the odd girl thats sick, but really, they never miss a game, never miss an away game, and you can see the development.
If you play soccer for two months of the year, its not going to work.
In spite of the challenges, the NSA girls have kept their head above water within the OWSL (Ontario Womens Soccer League), competitive in pretty much every game they play and finding themselves smack dab in the middle of the pack.
Our nucleus is strong enough, we have enough girls that can play, such that we are holding down fourth place, and deservedly so, said Ashton. We dont try to just kick and run, we try and pass the ball around. If theyre in trouble, theyre looking to pass, looking to make a play. Win or lose, thats how we want to play the game.
The NSA women dropped a 4-1 affair to Berlin Academy last Saturday, with Alyssa Charsley handling the scoring for the northern crew, bouncing back to blank the Huronia Saintes 2-0, with Karly Hellstrom joining Charsley on the scoresheet, and Kendra Roy recording the shutout. The team has but one game remaining, facing the GSSC Impact U21 women next Thursday (July 25th) at 7:00 p.m. at the James Jerome Sports Complex.