Monday, September 16, 2002

Blitz airlift reels in Ontario Cup title

Monday, September 16, 2002
By KATHY RUMLESKI, Free Press Sports Reporter VAUGHAN

It took a lot of co-ordination and a bit of cash but having four soccer players flown in from Nova Scotia for the Ontario Cup paid off. The London United Blitz under-19 girls won the Cup yesterday 3-0 over the Gloucester Hornets at Vaughan Grove Sports Park. It's the first win in the 27-year history of Cup play in the division for a London team. "This is a memory I'm going to hold dear, for sure," said elated London United coach Aaron Lauterbach. "It's real sentimental." Lauterbach said it would have been a different outcome had the four players -- two attending Dalhousie and two from Acadia -- not been able to fly to Toronto. Flight attendant Wendy Saint, mother of player Lindsey Boland who is studying at Acadia, made arrangements and got the flights for a total $800. Canada Post paid $500. Lauterbach also had to make arrangements with the university coaches so the girls -- including Jennifer Dewit and Angela Donato (Dalhousie) and Brianna Lyttle (Acadia) -- could return. "I talked to their coaches and they all had games today. All of the coaches thought it was a great idea that they finish their amateur career off with an Ontario Cup," he said. Elaine O'Connell also came from the University of Windsor for the game. Lyttle said the quick trip "was definitely worth it." Natalie Strittmatter got London on the board in the 17th minute. She blasted the ball high into the left corner of the net from about 15 yards out. The play started on a throw-in from Emma O'Connor and then Stephanie Elgie sent the ball in to the quick Strittmatter, who got the shot away. Prior to confirming his players would return from university, Lauterbach had said there were a couple of younger players who could "step it up in the big game." Two who responded were Kristin Brunner and Stephanie Miletic. Brunner was called up from the under-16 London United team and scored the second goal in the 37th minute. Elgie scored the third. With a defender on her, Brunner got a shot away that goalkeeper Tara Morrison initially stopped but it slid through her hands. The other key 16-year-old -- playing in only her second game with the team -- was goalkeeper Miletic. She was called on when regulars Kristy Zimmerman and Sarah McGill were out with a knee problem and concussion, respectively. The rookie keeper made two outstanding saves -- one on a breakaway -- that gave London back the momentum when Gloucester had it. "It's a very great honour to be called up to this team," said Miletic, 16, of St. Marys. The Blitz, most of whom have only played together this season, were plagued by injuries throughout the year. Key player Cassandra VanLeuwen broke her leg but wanted to participate in the Ontario Cup so badly she worked hard in therapy and is now eight months ahead of schedule in terms of her recovery, Lauterbach said. But it wasn't enough to get her into the game yesterday. VanLeuwen had an important role, though. "She's an inspiration," Lauterbach said. "We wanted her on the bench. "The team really rallied around each other; they really played for one another. The true epitome of what a team's all about.


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