High school soc­cer kicks into high gear

The Sudbury Star - - SPORTS - RANDY PAS­CAL

If one could write as one could read, then I sup­pose I would be writ­ing this col­umn in the voice of an auc­tion­eer. Cram­ming high school soc­cer reg­u­lar-sea­son sched­ules into a stretch of just over two weeks re­quires a need for brevity that bor­ders on the ab­surd.

The good news? De­spite their very limited time on the pitch, the play­ers and teams that are par­tak­ing this spring seem in­tent on cre­at­ing some very good bat­tles, both for the lo­cal hard­ware, as well as the cov­eted spots awarded to those who will move on to NOSSA play­downs.

SE­NIOR BOYS PRE­MIER

With four of the seven teams still un­beaten af­ter one week of play, lit­tle has been de­cided in the early go­ing of this di­vi­sion. That’s fine, be­cause a net re­sult of the short­ened sched­ule lies in the fact that every­body makes the play­offs.

League champs from 2013 to 2015, the St. Benedict Bears are off to a solid start at 2-0-1, a stretch that in­cluded a 4-3 win over the Lo-Ellen Park Knights (1-2-0), as goals from Michael Re­ich (2), Isaac Julien and Robert Krueger were just enough to off­set coun­ters from Max McCue, Dax Maz­zuchin and Cameron Boland.

Fol­low­ing two straight losses, the Knights fi­nally hit the win col­umn on Fri­day, blank­ing the win­less Lasalle Lancers (0-3-0) be­hind a pair of tal­lies from Luca Nardi, as Lancers’ head coach Matt Cootes deals with the loss of game-chang­ing mid­fielder Calum Passi (bro­ken foot).

The St. Charles Car­di­nals have rolled over their op­po­nents, scor­ing 11 goals in their first two games, thanks to a highly balanced at­tack that fea­tures the likes of Ar­naud Flo­rien, Jack Jor­dan, Ryan Teddy, Pe­dro Cam­pos and Nick Gna­hore.

Cap­tur­ing their first SDSSAA boys soc­cer ban­ner in school his­tory last May, the Col­lege Notre Dame Alou­ettes are right in the thick of things at 1-0-1, blank­ing the Hori­zon Aigles 2-0 and play­ing to a 1-1 draw with the Bears.

While folks might not the read too much into just one game, a 2-1 triumph for the Lockerby Vik­ings over Lo-Ellen on goals from Tyler Dupont and Dario Beljo was enough to breathe a lit­tle ex­tra con­fi­dence into a ros­ter that also fea­tures de­fen­sive stal­wart Ry­der John­ston and top-end goal­tend­ing tal­ent, Nolan Berthelette.

“We’re kind of like un­der­dogs com­ing in, no­body ex­pected us to do well this year,” said Dupont, who hones his skills out­side the secondary school set­ting with coach Brian Ash­ton and his U21 North­ern Soc­cer Academy crew. “We came in and worked hard as a team and I think that’s all that mat­ters.”

“All we’ve got to do is try and move the ball,” he added. “Ev­ery­thing we do in prac­tice is all about team­work. Be­cause we have so lit­tle time to­gether, we re­ally have to use our prac­tices to work as a team.”

SE­NIOR GIRLS PRE­MIER

Multi-sport ath­letes are front and cen­tre for the girls teams show­ing the way af­ter week one ac­tion, as re­cent Esso Cup par­tic­i­pant Madi­son Laberge has drilled home no less than seven goals in lead­ing the Con­fed­er­a­tion Charg­ers to back-to-back vic­to­ries over both the CND Alou­ettes and Hori­zon Aigles.

Mean­while, hockey net­min­der Kris­ten Mrozewski has tossed aside the blocker and pads in favour of the cleats, find­ing the back of the net on four oc­ca­sions as the Lo-Ellen Park Knights sit tied with Con­fed­er­a­tion at 2-0-0, best­ing the St. Charles Car­di­nals and Lasalle Lancers.

In­ter­est­ingly enough, while this di­vi­sion has crowned five dif­fer­ent champions in the past six years, nei­ther the Charg­ers, nor the Knights, are among this group­ing. Same holds true for the Lasalle Lancers, who share third place with Notre Dame at 1-1-1, with Grace Cranston show­ing the way of­fen­sively for Lasalle.

The Alou­ettes, who have three SDSSAA ban­ners since 1993 to show for their girls soc­cer ef­forts, in­clud­ing the last in 2013, have re­bounded from a 3-0 loss to Con­fed­er­a­tion, play­ing to a score­less draw with Lockerby be­fore trim­ming the Mary­mount Re­gals 1-0, as Vanessa McKin­non emerged as the un­likely goal-scor­ing hero.

“This is my first year play­ing soc­cer, since like age four,” said the Grade 11 stu­dent, who joins Kris­ten Mrozewski as just two of the girls who cracked a Sud­bury Lady Wolves midget AA 201920 ros­ter that fea­tures plenty of turnover from the pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship squad.

“I’m used to us­ing my hands to shoot,” McKin­non con­tin­ued. “With my feet, I don’t have re­ally good shoot­ing co-or­di­na­tion. Shoot­ing is not my strong suit.” So what to make of her goal? “Emma La­pointe passed it to me and I used my speed and ran to the ball. The goalie mis­placed it a lit­tle bit and I was in front of the net to get the re­bound, I guess.”

SE­NIOR BOYS SE­COND

Given that se­cond di­vi­sion sched­ules do not wrap up un­til early June, even less can be gleaned from the small hand­ful of games that have been played to date – ex­cept that the Bishop Carter Ga­tors may be poised to fi­nally break through with their first cham­pi­onship crown in this clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

With Lu­cas Oliveira (eight goals), Daniel Lukoff (three) and Owen Guse (two) lead­ing the charge, the Ga­tors have not only opened the 2019 sea­son with three straight wins, but sport, more im­pres­sively, a 14-2 goal dif­fer­en­tial af­ter the trio of out­ings to date.

SE­NIOR GIRLS SE­COND

Still an­other team rais­ing some eye­brows in the hopes of reach­ing lofty heights, never be­fore at­tained, are the Es­panola Spar­tans girls, fol­low­ing up a con­vinc­ing 6-0 win over Bishop Carter with a 1-0 white­wash­ing of the Mac­don­ald-Cartier Pan­theres, a school that walked away with Pre­mier Di­vi­sion brag­ging rights just two sea­sons ago.

JU­NIOR BOYS

Last but not least are the troika of teams bat­tling it out for ju­nior boys hon­ours. Though the teams will play just a dou­ble round robin sched­ule, the ac­tion prom­ises to be in­tense, given that no school sur­vived week one play with­out a loss: St. Charles (2-1-0), Notre Dame (1-1-0) and Con­fed­er­a­tion (0-1-0).

JOHN LAPPA

Mathieu Poliquin, right, of Hori­zon, bat­tles for the ball dur­ing boys high school soc­cer ac­tion against St. Charles Col­lege at James Jerome Sports Com­plex in Sud­bury, Ont. on Wed­nes­day May 8, 2019.

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