Saturday, April 01, 2006

Getting Boot Miffs Soccer Groups

Saturday, April 1, 2006
Getting Boot Miffs Soccer Groups
By Morris Dalla Costa
Free Press Sports Columnist

The soccer people in London are feeling a little kicked around.

Come the middle of July, during the busiest time of their schedule, the London and District Youth Soccer League will have to reschedule about 180 games when as many as 10 of its soccer pitches will be taken over by the 2006 world field lacrosse championship.

Included in the loss of fields for a 10-day period from July 13 to 22 is the North London Soccer Complex.

"That's a lot of games to reschedule," LDYSL director Tom Partalas said. "And the city has done it without a lot of communication. There were two of us at a soccer field task force meeting in October when we were told.

"These are soccer fields. They should be used as soccer fields. What are they going to use them for next?"

The LDYSL has had to scramble to reschedule the games. It has been forced to go to private fields like the German-Canadian Club and make teams travel all over the city.

There are many other soccer organizations and clubs using those fields. The LDYSL has just finished its registration at the competitive level. Even though it has dropped the under-19 age group, its team registrations for LDYSL alone went from 302 to 325 teams. That's almost 6,000 players. Registration will likely exceed 20,000 players in London and the immediate area.

But it's not just the inconvenience or the added cost of not being able to use the fields that's frosting soccer people. It's the continued perception soccer gets second-class treatment. That, even though the number of people playing the sport far exceeds participation in any other sport in the city.

"When we worked with the city to build and improve these fields, we didn't ask them for anything free," Partalas said. "We're paying extra to repay the money put into the fields."

The hope is there will be enough money left from a legacy fund from the world field lacrosse championship to build a field lacrosse complex on a property just north of the North London Soccer Complex.

Partalas is concerned and he has every right to be. The North London complex is a terrific facility for the game and the city looks after it with great care. They don't allow any teams to play on it until after the first weekend in May. Early-bird soccer tournaments with 100 teams or more opt to go to Tillsonburg and other communities who have better soccer facilities.

The city is also cautious during the season about the use of the complex. If field conditions are sloppy, games are usually cancelled.

"What if the weather isn't good?" Partalas asked. "This is a world championship. They are going to play on it no matter what kind of weather. What kind of condition is the field going to be in when it's all done? We'll be left playing on dirt. You can't just toss a few seeds on the field and say we'll be ready to play tomorrow."

Tim Hobbs, chair of the lacrosse event, is sympathetic.

"But at least they have fields," he said. "We don't have one dedicated lacrosse field in this city."

And he says the city isn't about to cut him a break.

"The city has put about $10,000 into this event, but they want to charge me $63,000 for field rental. I'm embarrassed to say the federal government, who declared lacrosse a national sport, has not given us one penny.

"Thank God for the provincial government, who came up with $142,000."

Kent McVittie, manager of recreational services and attractions, wants to minimize the inconvenience to soccer organizations.

"We'll be getting a more accurate account of the number of teams which will be here and the number of fields they will need."

The championship will feature 22 teams from around the world with Canada's division playing at TD Waterhouse Stadium. The tournament also features a lacrosse festival. So far, 39 men's teams and 24 youth teams have registered and they are guaranteed five games each. That's a lot of games.

The world lacrosse championship will put London under a medium-wattage spotlight on the world stage. But that spotlight has also illuminated a problem soccer people have known about for a while.

Even with recent improvements, there's still not enough fields to make anyone happy.

Friday, February 24, 2006

CPSL plays to ethnic groups

Friday, February 24, 2006
CPSL plays to ethnic groups
By LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

The Canadian Professional Soccer League is counting on a link between rabid flag waving and rapid turnstile traffic.

A new era for the 12-team league began here yesterday with the expansion birth of the Serbian White Eagles to the CPSL, joining the Italia Shooters, Toronto Supra (Portuguese) and Toronto Croatia. Only the latter had kept its ethnic link the past few years.

"We used to be very basic, East and West divisions with just team names," new commissioner Cary Kaplan said. "That works in Hamilton, London and Windsor. But in Toronto, you don't wave a York flag or a Vaughan flag when there's 350,000 Portuguese, 450,000 Italians and a large Chinese and Korean population.

"Traditionally, you were encouraged to hide that and be a team such as the Toronto Blizzard. But why couldn't we have a 20-team international division, based right in Toronto? In 10 years, I don't see why we can't be a micro version of the CFL."

The White Eagles, last seen in these parts 30 years ago playing to big crowds at the CNE, are being resurrected in a big way, bringing back legendary Dragoslav Sekularac (Seki) as coach and bolstering their initial roster with five imports.

"We needed a world-famous player and a world famous coach and Seki is both," Eagles president Mike Bakich said. "We're looking at around 250,000 Serbs in Ontario and we know we can get the people out if we give them a good product.

"Unfortunately, Canada is not a soccer country, though it should be with our melting pot of countries where it is the No. 1 sport. We're hoping when they build the new stadium next year (a 20,000-seat facility at Exhibition Place ), soccer will be where it was. We used to have 12,000 to 17,000 out to Eagles games."

Caplan hopes Serbia is the first of an ambitious CPSL expansion program. The Durham team has dropped out, Hamilton is coming back with a new identity and other GTA teams include the North York Astros, Oakville Blue Devils and Brampton Stallions.

"The CPSL has been under the radar for a long time," Caplan said. "The international concept in Toronto is perfect. We think that it will attract additional fans and rivalries."

He pointed to the Eagles' glitzy launch as the kind of splash the CPSL needs.

"You have to move the bar up, create a team like this which pushes a team at the bottom," Kaplan said. "Other teams will look at Serbia and say, 'We're not going on the field to lose to them 6-0.'

"We have to get off page 12 of the sports section where all you see are our standings. We have to create publicity."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


For Immediate Release
February 22, 2006


WILMINGTON, N.C. – UNC Wilmington head women’s soccer coach Paul Cairney has announced the signing of seven student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2006-07 season.

Two forwards, Jenna Evans (Wilmington, N.C./Hoggard) and Erica Rodgers (Wallingford, Pa./Strath Haven), a pair of Canadian midfielders, Daniela D’Oria (London, Ontario/Catholic Central) and Shannon Robertson (Kitchener, Ontario/St. Mary’s), two defenders, Meghan Sayre (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes) and Heather Froehlich (Charlotte, N.C./North Mecklenburg), and goalkeeper Jamie Balzarini (Holbrook, N.Y./Sachem North) highlight a well-rounded class.

“Our main goal for this recruiting class was to add depth and strength at each position,” said Cairney. “I am very excited about our new players, and I know that they will complement a very strong core group we have returning.”

Evans was named the Star-News Co-Player-of-the-Year in 2005, while earning All-State honors from the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association. She was also named First-Team All-Region in 2004.

“Jenna is an outstanding athlete who has the ability to play several positions,” said Cairney. “Her speed and tenacity make her a force on the field. She has the potential to be an impact player for us immediately.”

Rodgers garnered Daily Times Player-of-the-Year honors in 2005 and was named First-Team All-Delco in 2004 and 2005. A member of Pennsylvania’s Olympic Development Program from 2001-2005, she also played on the FC Bucks Club team, which won the Pennsylvania State Championship in 2003 and 2004.

“Erica has excellent speed, both on and off the ball, and has the ability to score at the next level,” said Cairney.

D’Oria received Athlete-of-the Year honors at Catholic Central in 2004, and also was a member of the Ontario Provincial team.

“Daniela is a highly technical player and is excellent in one-on-one situations,” said Cairney. “She also has the ability to finish on set-pieces. She will complement our attack through the middle.”

Also a member of the Ontario Provincial team, Robertson attended the National Training Center in 2005.

“Shannon possesses the speed and athleticism to be a factor at this level,” added Cairney. “She is both technically and tactically quick, and I see her being able to play several positions in 2006.”

Sayre played with Beach FC, the 2003 and 2004 Virginia State Champions. In 2003, she participated with the Region I ODP and Adidas ESP/National Camp.

“Meghan is an athletic defensive player,” said Cairney. “She reads the game well and will look to play a role for us at the back.”

Froehlich earned All-State honors from the NCSCA in 2004 and 2005, and captured All-Conference accolades. She also played with the North Carolina ODP team from 2002-05.

“Heather is a great defender,” said Cairney. “She is calm and composed under pressure. She strikes the ball very well over distance and will look to push for a spot in the back next season.”

Balzarini played with the Empire State Team in 2004 and 2005, while serving as captain during her final season. She earned All-County honors in 2004 and 2005 and was a Super Y League member with the Long Island Raiders.

“Jamie is a strong ‘keeper,” said Cairney. “She has excellent technique and is very aggressive coming off her line. She will compete for our starting spot as a freshman.”

The Seahawks open up their season with a home scrimmage against Duke on Aug. 16 at 7 p.m. and begin their regular season at Appalachian State on Aug. 25.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Sunday - February 12, 2006

Professional soccer in North America is starting to see signs of stability, a necessary ingredient as the game increases in popularity with the public, the business world and the media.

Long gone are the Toronto Blizzard, the New York Cosmos, the Toronto Metros, Toronto Italia, Hamilton Steelers and numerous other exciting teams that attracted large crowds for many years when high level soccer found itself in a golden era during the second half of the last century.

Still playing today, Vancouver Whitecaps of the USL’s First Division is one example of a high profile team that stayed around. Others are CPSL teams Toronto Croatia which launched in 1956 and London City. Toronto Croatia are celebrating longevity with a May pre-season visit to Zagreb and Split in Croatia, while on February 14 London City celebrates 33 uninterrupted years in the tough, pro Second Division, to continue a love affair with Southern Ontario fans that goes back to St.Valentine’s Day, 1973.

Despite the rough and tumble of the competition, London has also played a strong role in player development, a mandate initiated by their founder, Max (Markus) Gauss who was honoured for this and other work in soccer as the first person from the sport to be inducted into the London Sports Hall of Fame.

The induction came last year, the year grandson Ryan Gauss launched a high level women’s team, soon to realize what a cruel game soccer can be after recording an impeccable 10 wins out of 10 games played in the Women’s Canada Cup, his team failed to win the trophy in the final many believed was a snap.

London City GM Harry Gauss, son of Hall of Famer Max, is best known in recent times for sending several players to Europe – a good example of Canadian player development paying off. His team has won the CPSL-sponsored Open Canada Cup and was a finalist last year, but he has yet to hit the bull’s eye with the CPSL overall Championship.

“It’s hard to go for the big win and at the same time give so many young talented players the chance they deserve,” he reasons. But as the club starts year 34 with an upcoming kickoff in May and the first home game in the regular schedule on June 2, that’s precisely what Harry Gauss is aiming to do.

But the first celebration on February 14 follows the announcement of the 2005 MVP, Rookie of the Year and the Most Dedicated Player.

It’s dedication that’s kept one of Canada’s best known teams going for such a long time.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


February 1, 2006

The 2006 Ontario Indoor Cup competition resumes this weekend at The Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan with the Final Round of the Under 13 Boys and Girls Divisions and the Under 16 Boys and Girls Divisions. This weekend's competition will feature teams from cities all across the province including Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Ottawa, London, Niagara Falls as well as the greater Toronto area.

The Under 13 and Under 16 Boys and Girls will play a Round Robin Tournament on Saturday, February 4th with the top teams in the Tournament advancing to the Semi-Finals and Finals on Sunday, February 5th to determine the Provincial Indoor Soccer Champions. Games on Saturday kick-off at 10:00 a.m. and run to 11:20 p.m. On Sunday, the Under 13 Boys and Under 13 Girls Semi-Finals begin at 10:00 a.m. with the Boys Final game at 12:00 p.m. and the Girls final at 1:00 p.m. The Under 16 Boys Semi-Finals begin at 12:00 p.m. with the Finals at 3:00 p.m. The Under 16 Girls Semi-Finals begin at 11:00 a.m. with the Finals at 2:00 p.m.

2005 Ontario Indoor Cup Champions

Under 13 Girls - AJAX STORM
Under 15 Girls - VAUGHAN AZZURRI
Under 16 Boys - MISSISSAUGA DIXIE 89'ers

Thursday, December 22, 2005

W-League Showcases the Maple Leaf

W-League Showcases the Maple Leaf
Written by Bill Ault
Wednesday, 21 December 2005

Canadian soccer fans might be forgiven if they are beginning to think that the “W” in W-League should be replaced by a “C” to reflect the Canadian content. With established franchises in Vancouver, Sudbury, Toronto and Ottawa and the addition of teams in London, Hamilton and Laval seven of 37 franchises in the league are now based in Canada and the influence of Canadian teams and players has never been stronger.

This especially the case in the where the defending Eastern Conference Champion and League Finalists Ottawa Fury will face their arch rivals in Toronto as well as the Hamilton Avalanche, the Laval Comets, and Sudbury Canadians in addition to their revamped American cousins the Rochester Ravens and the Vermont Lady Voltage.

This leaves the Vancouver Whitecaps and London Gryphons flying the Maple Leaf solo in the Western Conference and Midwest Divisions respectively.

The Whitecaps will face nemesis Seattle in addition to the Fort Collins Force, Mile High Edge, Real Colorado Cougars, and the San Diego Gauchos while London are playing an exhibition schedule in 2005 will play the Chicago Gaels, Cincinnati Ladyhawks, Cleveland Internationals, Fort Wayne Fever, Michigan Hawks, Minnesota, and the West Michigan Firewomen.

The Canadian influence stretches beyond just the teams to the players themselves with a number of Canadian suiting up for American franchises including national team members Karina Leblanc and Christine Latham who suited up for the league champion New Jersey Wildcats in 2005, Melissa Tancredi in Atlanta and Charmaine Hooper in Chicago.

Additionally the league has obviously helped in the development of younger national team level players as well with 13 of 20 players invited last week to head coach Ian Bridge’s national team camp having playing experience in the W-League.

Ten of the 13 played in the W-League last season with five representing two of the four semifinalists. Goalkeeper Erin McNulty and midfielder Veronique Miranda are from the finalist Ottawa Fury while Jodi-Ann Robinson, Sophie Schmidt and Emily Zurrer played for the third-place Vancouver Whitecaps.

Amanda Cicchini and Robin Rushton played for the expansion Toronto Lady Lynx, who reached the Eastern Conference final. Stephanie Labbe and Katie Radchuck played for the Western Mass Lady Pioneers last season while Caroline Vanderpool was a member of the first-year Vermont Lady Voltage.

In total 67 games in the 2006 W-League schedule will feature a Canadian team and 20 of those will be a battle between two Canadian franchises.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

London City Lady Selects Announce Star Signing

December 21, 2005
London City Lady Selects announce star signing
By Morris Dalla Costa
Free Press Sports Columnist

Santa has been kind to London City Lady Selects, leaving them quite the Christmas present under the tree.

The Selects of the Canadian Professional Soccer League women's division announced the signing of Natalie D'Oria yesterday.

D'Oria played virtually every minute last season for the rival W-League London Gryphons.

D'Oria, 18, was on the field for 882 of the 900 minutes played by the Gryphons in the United Soccer League's U.S.-based W-League. She also attended Florida Atlantic University on a scholarship and was named to the second team all-Atlantic Sun Conference and to the Atlantic Sun all-Freshman Team.

Before leaving for Florida Atlantic, she won a number of Thames Valley Region high school awards.

She is a provincial team player and a likely candidate for national team camps.

"We consider Natalie D'Oria a real find in our building process," said Ryan Gauss, general manager of the Selects. "She is a star player."

D'Oria's addition will make a strong team stronger. London City lost only one game in the division's inaugural season, dominating most opponents. But the loss came in the championship game.

D'Oria said she was happy with the Gryphons, but wanted to play Canadian professional soccer in a league that didn't travel a great deal and would give her a chance to see how women's Canadian professional soccer was developing.

"I didn't really want to do all that travelling," she said. "My old team plays a lot of games in the States and I'm in the States eight months of the year. I didn't need to do that all year. You were gone four days out of the week, busing there and back. We'd leave Thursday and be getting back Sunday early in the morning and it would be really draining. Here, it will be nice to be playing locally.

"I knew going down (to Florida) that I wanted to play locally when I came back, because I'm only back three months of the year and I didn't want to be all over the place again.

"But soccer is soccer no matter where you play. This level is just as competitive as where I was playing. It was a difficult decision to make. I was very excited when I made it."

D'Oria also is looking forward to having the opportunity of playing with Eva Havaris, a top woman player in London who led the Selects. It was one of the deciding factors in her signing with London City.

"I know Eva," said D'Oria. "I like the idea I'll be playing with her again. She has so much soccer experience. I played with her before when I was younger and I just like the idea that I would be playing in the middle with her again. I learned a lot from her."

Gauss learned a great deal as the general manager of the team and as a result, he's strengthened the staff.

"It was a remarkable season, but I learned that you need to build and grow if you don't want to be left in the dust," he said.

Gauss has brought on Mike Herman as an assistant general manager. Last year, Herman was the head coach and manager of the under-21 women's Ontario Cup silver medallists with the London City Lady Vets.

Also joining the staff is Nick D'Oria, Natalie's father. He will be the head scout and management consultant. D'Oria is head coach of the Regina Mundi boys team and coached at various other levels, including as an assistant with Western's women's team.

Also joining London City Lady Selects is Laurie Workman, who is known for her work on the Henderson international soccer tournament. She'll become the director of public relations.

Whether the structure of the women's division in the CPSL will change remains to be seen. Stan Adamson of the CPSL was at the news conference and indicated there was a new atmosphere of co-operation between the Ontario Soccer Association and the CPSL about forming a women's league, rather than just a division.

"There was some resistance and hostility last year," Adamson said. "That hostility has dissipated."

But there's still no news as to whether the OSA will support the move to a woman's league.