Friday, June 10, 2005

London Rivals Will Not Face Off

Gryphons, City tie won't fly
By JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press
June 10, 2005

In boxing, they call a bout that is never going to happen a Sunday Fight.

While the new elite women's soccer teams aren't exactly fighting, there's enough animosity to fuel a terrific matchup between the London Gryphons and London City.

But it won't happen, despite City general manager Ryan Gauss considering a challenge to the Gryphons for a charity game. With an allusion to boxing, you could call it Socks in the City.

"We'd love to do it -- at their field or at the Cove -- and put on a real show for the fans of London and show them the best of women's soccer," Gauss said.

Such a showdown is comparable to the regular speculation over a London Knights-Western Mustangs charity hockey game. There are insurance concerns along with unlikely OHL approval.

"We're not permitted," Gryphons' Ed Lauterbach said. "We got releases from players' teams in the NCAA (U.S. college system) and our agreement does not allow games outside the W-League.

"Those schools have a major investment in their players so you can understand their concerns."

City opens Monday at Cove Road field in what the Canadian Professional Soccer League-associated group terms a summer-long tournament. They'll play Windsor Border Stars in an 8:30 p.m. game.

Meantime, the Gryphons were to hit the road this morning for a 1,500-kilometre return trip with stops at Holland, Mich., for a game against the West Michigan Firewomen tonight, and at Cincinnati against the Ladyhawks tomorrow night.

But don't expect the London teams to make the short hop to play at either Cove Road or the Gryphons' field, North London Stadium. Judging by what is known of the teams and their personnel, it would be an interesting game.

The Gryphons have had a powerful start in the W-League's Midwest Division, which has entries in Chicago, Cleveland, Fort Wayne and Detroit, as well as Holland and Cincinnati. They have three wins and a draw in four starts.

Coach Aaron Lauterbach gives a verbal rundown of a roster that includes Kent State all-American striker Kimberly Dimitroff of Oakville and touches on 17-year-old surprise Devon Romak from London's Lucas. "We were going to sign (Romak) to London United but she played her way on and has been on the field every minute of every game as midfield anchor."

Ed Lauterbach likens his team to the London Knights.

"We've got good chemistry and good players," he said. "Good players alone isn't enough. They do everything for the good of the team; they're a lot like the Knights."

They're still a long way from the Knights' record 31-game undefeated streak, but their start is promising.

The City women are an unknown quantity beyond a roster led by captain Eva Havaris that boasts some excellent elite players. Monday's game will be their first toe in the water in meaningful play.

It is not without some effort the CPSL's women's division is getting underway. The Ontario Soccer Association threw up some roadblocks initially, questioning whether there was an adequate number of elite players to stock six teams.

Besides City, other teams are Toronto Supra, North York Astros, Durham Storm, Border Stars and Vaughan Shooters. As the Gryphons did last year, they'll play the tournament format then open with a league schedule next year.

Like Lauterbach, Gauss touches on the commitment his players have shown.

"We have a remarkable commitment, attitude and skill level," he said. "I think we're going to be very competitive."


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