Cobras cruise to regional crown
The Cobras stood nine points clear of second place prior to their final game on Wednesday, Sept. 1, with Julia Francki leading the eight-team regional league in scoring with 10 goals and Makena Fowler and Veronique Lalonde registering six each.
“It’s been a good season and it’s because the girls are committed to it,” Bertrand explains. “They all have jobs, and boyfriends, and social lives, but they know absolutely that during the summer they’re going to be on the soccer field three or four days a week.”
The league title means the Cobras will be invited to join the Ontario Youth Soccer League loop, but the club is unsure if they’ll accept the promotion despite earning several wins and ties in non-league games against Level 1 opponents.
“We know we can compete,” Bertrand says. “But it’s a big step – getting the kids to commit to going to Toronto every other weekend – so it’s something we have to discuss.”
The U17 team is part of the Cumberland United“showcase”program that places a particular emphasis on attending college/ showcase events. The Cobras – made up largely of players eligible for the U16 level, and even a couple U15 players – attended tournaments in New York and Boston this season, although the big highlight was their trip to Sweden.
The Cobras spent 10 days overseas in mid-July for the Gothia Cup – a massive international tournament featuring around 35,000 participants in total.
“We thought we would get some sightseeing in, but the girls kept on winning and winning and winning,” smiles Bertrand, whose squad placed fifth out of close to 100 teams in its category.
Each visiting team at the Gothia Cup was given a school classroom filled with cots to sleep in during the event, which allowed the players to mingle with all kinds of foreign friends. It was also the moment when Bertrand and co-coach Mark Fowler realized what kind of special team they owned.
“When you have 18 girls in one classroom and no one comes out fighting,you know you have a pretty good group,” Bertrand laughs. “It’s a good, good gang of girls. For both coaches, they’ve made it probably our most enjoyable year ever.”