From time to time, Sudbury soccer teams have been able to distance themselves from the pack in regional league play, comfortably earning a promotion to a loop that includes a little more of a provincial presence.
Few, however, have done it with quite the same authority as the GSSC (Greater Sudbury Soccer Club) Impact U14 girls crew. A 9-0 win over the North Bay Lakers, Wednesday evening at the James Jerome Sports Complex, improved the local team's record to 9-0-0 in Huronia District Soccer League (HDSL) action this summer.
Even more impressive is the dominance on both sides of the ball that has been demonstrated by the crew whose course is being navigated by first year head coach Stephane Legrand. Offensively, the Impact U14 girls have found the back of the net on 59 occasions. Powered by the likes of Sydney Coe (21 goals), Kiara Levac (15), Brooke Dugas (6) and Sophia Oommen (6), the Sudbury girls have scored almost at will in many an outing.
On the back-end, the team has yet to surrender a single goal against in regular season play, with goaltenders Cadyn Goulais (5) and Kylee Hitchen (4) sharing the shutouts quite evenly. Not bad at all for a team whose core have truthfully only played together for the past two years, kicking things off as more of a tournament team only in 2018.
“This year, I think we have more chemistry, which is better,” said Kaja Beljo, a rock-solid defender who has split her time between defensive midfield and centre back. “We have an amazing coach, Steph – he's really great. And we've been doing a lot of defensive stuff at practice, so our defensive line is super strong. Well, our whole team is good defensively.”
“And our strikers are super fast – Sydney, Sophia and Kiara,” added the grade nine student at Lockerby Composite who only recently celebrated her 14th birthday. “They can run past everyone to get to the net.”
For a team armed with the kind of prolific firepower that the Impact can boast, the notion of firming up the part of the game that could be easily overlooked only stands to reason. “We do drills with defenders on you all the time,” said Beljo. “Like a lot of our drills are small teams against small teams. You're always trying to get the ball off of someone, stop them from getting to the net.”
The hope is that if the local reps can continue down the path they have carved to this point, they will be much better equipped to face a fairly significant jump in the level of competition that comes courtesy of the Central Soccer League in 2020. “Our goal is to not allow any goals against our team, especially in the regular season, and to make it up to the higher division next year,” acknowledged Beljo.
The young ladies entrusted with carrying out this mission include Andrea Begic, Danika Gray, Kaija Beljo, Kiana Levac, Alexandra Buttery, Brooke Dugas, Kiara Levac, Samantha Bourdon, Kylee Hitchen, Addison Johnstone, Cadyn Goulais, Sophia Oommen, Amanda Bourdon, Paige Goudreau, Sydney Coe and Danica Peltier.
The path is not nearly as clear for midfielder Jacob Gill and the teammates who have joined forces to create a tournament team from the remnants of the GSSC Impact U14 boys tryouts. With far less time spent together than even the juggernaut female team at the same age group profiled above, the local lads are simply trying to maintain a fairly healthy level of competition as they target another shot at the top grouping of talent next year.
“It's mostly people that didn't make the “A” team at tryouts,” noted Gill, a 13 year old grade nine student at Lasalle Secondary, who moved to Sudbury from Regina just this year. “We get to go to tournaments every month and still play other teams from other cities.”
With mentors Joe Snofl and Giuseppe Politi charting their course, the youngsters have worked diligently to try and form a cohesive unit, enjoying some success at out of town events in King City and Barrie. “We've worked on a lot of passing and stuff, a lot more passing and calling for the ball,” noted Gill.
“The soccer here is more competitive than Saskatchewan.”
A midfielder for some time now, converting from the outside to the inside game and all of the running that comes with it, Gill is also looking to assert himself offensively, when needed. “I like the shot from just outside the (18 yard) box,” he said. “I try and focus on where I am going to put it. I look at where I want to put it and then put my head down to kick it.”*************
Games contested locally last weekend would see the GSSC Impact U16 girls earn a split in CSL encounters, doubling Darlington FC 4-2 on Saturday before dropping a 3-1 decision to Muskoka FC the next afternoon. Allie Weiler finished the two game set with three goals, including the only Sudbury tally in their setback on Sunday, with remaining strikes coming courtesy of Prezzley Hutchison and Mackenzie Roberts.
The GSSC Impact U14 boys recorded back to back 5-1 victories over Barrie White, with Maliq Olanrewaju (3), Ousama Quarquoz (2), Nicholas McGee (2), Nathan Cranston, Tyler Thibodeau and Brayden Ethier-Perras all hitting the mark for the northern gents.
Finally, the GSSC Impact U16 boys also managed to string together mirror-image encounters, blanking Collingwood United 3-0 on both Saturday and Sunday. Gabriel Campagnaro handled all of the scoring in game one, joined on the scoresheet by Bailey Gervais (2) the next day, as Rowan Mullin Santone extended the shutout streak of teammate Massimo Marone in game two of the set.