The Huntsville Strikers were in town Wednesday, providing the opposition for the GSSC (Greater Sudbury Soccer Club) Impact U13 boys, but it's the Innisfil Stampeders that coach Evan Phillips and company have their sights set on in the eight-team Huronia District Soccer League (HDSL) age grouping.
A 5-0 win over the Strikers marked the ninth victory in ten league outings this summer for the Sudbury lads, all by way of a shutout. Their only blemish came back on June 14th, when the Impact dropped a 2-0 decision to Innisfil, as the Stamps currently hold down top spot in the standings, boasting a 10-0-0 record.
The two teams will meet twice more this month, on August 18th to decide the HDSL Cup, and on August 24th, with the regular season title up for grabs. In the meantime, the GSSC crew took care of business quite efficiently this week, balancing their attack with goals from Zidain Allen, Chad Tullio, Seth Gardner, Liam Binks and Atom Thususka, all while Niko Tuttle made it eight straight clean slates for the team in net.
“We passed the ball well and sent it to the middle of the field pretty well today,” noted midfielder/defender Zackary Vaillancourt. “But we really want to beat Innisfil. They move the ball well, they make a lot of good passing plays.”
A grade eight student at Ecole Félix-Ricard, Vaillancourt has widened the scope of positions that he can play this summer, a definite benefit for future coaches as he makes his way through the high-school years. “I'm starting to play defence, so I'm learning to defend and to use my left foot,” he said.
“With the defensive part, I have to learn to stay back a little bit. Usually, I like to force them to the inside, and when they make a mistake, I try and strike the ball.” And if he needs a little extra positional advice while out on the pitch, he can always turn to the imposing presence of centreback Matthew Dzivy, a young man who seems almost predisposed to manning the back line.
“Ever since I was little, I've played defence in pretty much every sport,” noted the 13 year old grade eight student at St Benedict Catholic School. “But hockey and soccer defending is different. There are more people (on the field) in soccer, and the field is way bigger, so you have to make sure that you drop.”
“If someone is coming at you in soccer, you need to drop back. In hockey, if someone is coming at you, you can go at them.” The U13 division is the earliest age at which Ontario Soccer allows formal league play, with Dzivy and the bulk of his current teammates familiar with one another from their time spent in the local GSSC developmental loop the past few years.
At this age, however, coach Phillips and his staff are busy augmenting the scope of the game for their young troops, beginning that process that allows the local talent to see soccer in a slightly different light.
“When I was younger, it was defence gets it and boots it up the side, and then the forwards get it and score,” explained Dzivy. “But this year, the defence gets the ball more and passes it, sometimes to each other, so it's more ball control, which is more fun.”
“If I see someone and there's nobody on them, I will try and pass it right to their feet,” added Dzivy. “But most of the times, that's not the case, so then I look for open space. I know my players will run to the ball, so I can trust them to do that.”
“And if I need to, I can just clear it. I have a strong enough kick and I can put it to someone in the middle, but it's a more dangerous play.”
The Impact U13 boys team, which also features Raynor Grant, Matthias Siemann, Noor Alzahram, Jonas Petroski, Maximus Mina, Graham Binks, Adam Scott, Sylas Corbiere, Christian Thamby and James Bertrim, will contest a pair of road games against the Bradford Eagles (August 11th) and South Simcoe United (August 14th) before tackling the Innisfil Stampeders twice in a matter of a week.
Meanwhile, the only local youth team competing in the Central Soccer League this summer, the GSSC Impact U16 girls, continue to show well, improving their season mark to 6-2-1 this past week with a 5-2 road win over Barrie White. Allie Weiler maintained her torrid scoring pace of late, netting no less than four goals, with Grace Cranston adding a solo tally.
The Sudbury squad find themselves tied with both Darlington and Peterborough in second place in the 17-team loop, though the grouping is just past the halfway mark of their schedule. The Impact still have seven games remaining between now and September 15th, heading south again on August 17th/18th to face King United (5-1-1) and Oak Ridges (4-4-2).
Finally, thousands of local athletes currently enjoy the sport of soccer every summer. A partnership between the Sudbury District Sport Club (SDSC) and the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) is hoping to attract a few more.
Five-a-side soccer (a.k.a. “blind soccer”) is an adapted version of ‘the beautiful game’ that is played at the Paralympic level by visually impaired athletes. The rules of 5-a-side are similar to the rules in able-bodied soccer, save a few distinct modifications: the ball makes noise when it moves; all players, aside from the goalkeeper, wear eye shades; the goalkeeper is fully sighted and also acts as a guide for players in his defensive zone; and, as the name suggest, the sport is played with five players per team.
Locally, folks interested in this adaptive sport meet once a week (every Wednesday), at Rotary Park in New Sudbury, learning the fundamentals of the sport. There are no specific age requirements to be involved, with the sport open to one and all.
For more information on 5-a-side blind soccer, please contact Jim Cress at 705-919-3125 or via email at email@example.com.