The North Mississauga Soccer Club’s competitive programs have been a key part of the program for the area’s most talented players. But this year, three of the teams within these programs have gone above and beyond, earning success at the highest levels of Ontario soccer.
The U17 Girls, U18 Girls and U21 Men’s teams have advanced far in the months long Ontario Cup tournament, a highly prestigious provincial tournament and the oldest soccer tournament in Canada. It has been played every year since 1901, except for the world war years.
Our Boys and Girls Under 14 teams have a weekend full of group stage matches. BU14, coached by Patrick Guirguis, is in London playing at Western University. GU14, coached by Joe Alves, travel to St. Catharines.
The U17 Girls team, coached by Judy Tjanetis, has made it to the quarterfinal, while the U18 Girls, coached by Rob Gombar, and the U21 Men’s team, coached by Camillo D’Alfonso, have both progressed to their respective semi-finals this weekend.
The U21 Men’s squad will play the Cambridge PCC Supersonics on July 20 in the Soccer Centre in Vaughan. If they win, they will play the winner of the other semi-final match between Aurora F.C. and Vaughan Azzuri U21. The final will be played on July 21, at the Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan.
The U17 Girls won a round robin group of four earlier this month which served as an audition for the quarterfinal that will be played on August 11. They look to defend their title earned last season as the U16 Indoor and Outdoor Ontario Cup Champions, a double that the club is immensely proud of.
The U18 Girls defeated the Oakville Soccer Club 2-0 to advance to this weekends semi-final in Vaughan, where they will take on Paris F.C. at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 20th. With a win, they will advance to take on the winner of Windsor Eastside Kickers and Glen Shields S.C.
“The players are really excited about playing … this was a big team goal for all of us,” said Gombar. “We have been prepping for this tournament for months.”
Considering the dozens of teams that vie for this position, being in the final four and final eight is hugely exciting for all coaches. This is especially true because many of these players have remained loyal to them, and this has been earned over years.
“Coaching this team has been a joy,” said D’Alfonso. “I have had most of these players for a few years when I was with a different club and when we made the change over to North Mississauga they came over with me.”
Tjanetis has been coaching provincial teams for the last eight years, with one player, Alicia Sutcliffe, spending all eight years under Tjanetis’s coaching, going all the way back to when she was a U8 player.
The girls coach strongly believes in her team’s abilities. She has been to finals in previous years, and thinks her team has an excellent set of attributes to get back to the final and win.
“[Our strengths are] possession, technical ability, game intelligence and athleticism,” she said. “It’s a big achievement to be crowned provincial champions and it takes a lot of effort to get there.”
The Ontario Cup takes place throughout the summer, alongside their provincial league play. In a sense, if their regular provincial league is Premier League, this is Champions League, where top teams from around the province compete in a best-of-the-best tournament with 17 age divisions and 600 teams.
The draw takes place in April to determine who gets seeded in which groups. The tournament begins with in May, with elimination playoffs starting in June and with the tournaments ending in July and August.
What D’Alfonso’s team has done is to be successful in both league and Ontario Cup play. Any competitive soccer team in the province can register in the Ontario Cup, so one does not have to be successful in one to be successful in the other. But in the U21 men’s team’s case, they have to remarkable degrees.
“As of right now we are sitting a top the provincial central division with four games remaining and believe with another win, maybe two, we should be able to win the league,” he said. “Right now, we have eight wins and two ties and winning the league. Staying undefeated would be fantastic, and of course the Ontario Cup would be the icing on the cake.”
Tjanetis and her teams have had sustained success at both levels, but particularly in the Ontario Cup.
“This tournament holds a lot of memories for us as a group and we have had great success,” said Tjanetis. “We have only failed to make it out of the tournament round once [in eight years].”
But both D’Alfonso and Tjanetis know that their jobs are not done yet, and that continued support from the club and effort from the players and staff need to be done in order to bring home the ultimate prizes.
“We need to continue playing our game, playing 90 minutes of soccer and not play to the other team’s game,” said D’Alfonso. “If we do what we know how to, we can and should be successful moving forward.”
Having all three of the teams advance thus far will only strengthen our League1 programs in the coming years, as these players will age out of the youth sides. It will be important to have them all be the backbone full-time next season.
- U21 Men’s Kick-off: Saturday, July 20th, 6pm, Ontario Soccer Stadium
- U18 Girls Kick-off: Saturday, July 20th, 10am Vaughan Grove Turf Field
- U17 Girls Kick-off: August 11th, TBD
- U14 Boys Kick-off: July 19th in the Group Stages vs crosstown rival Erin Mills (6pm) at Western University (6pm), then 7/20 vs Alliance London, and 7/21 vs Whitecaps London
- U14 Girls Kick-off: July 19th in the Group Stages vs Kitchener Spirit (6pm) in St. Catharines, then 7/20 vs Oshawa Kicks (4pm), then 7/21 vs. St. Catharines Jets (3pm)