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Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017
More than a little satisfied, even in defeat
2017-10-17
by Cambrian Varsity Athletics

It’s not very often that Cambrian soccer coach Giuseppe Politi is happy in defeat.

And while he was certainly not ecstatic after both the Shield men and women dropped their regular season finales, on the road, to the Humber Hawks on Sunday, there was clearly a sense of satisfaction in the assessment provided by the man who makes no bones about being a very demanding coach.

“If anyone had a regret or was disappointed today, it was only about the result,” noted Politi, discussing the 1-0 loss of the Cambrian women earlier in the day. “There were other games that we won and I was not happy with the performance, because of errors, not sticking to the tactics. Today, we lost the game, but I was happy with the delivery.”

That is very good news, considering that he and his team will open their OCAA playoff run, in Sudbury, a benefit of playing host to the provincial championships this year. Their 6:00 p.m. game next Thursday evening (October 26th), facing an opponent that will have to survive a cross-over qualifying game this weekend, will close out the opening day of OCAA quarter-finals.

With the end goal of improving on their bronze medal of one year ago, the Cambrian crew must hope that they are quickly nearing the final form needed to make this dream a reality. “I definitely think we are a lot closer after today,” stated veteran Dana Isaia. “It’s a lot better for us to play more challenging teams, like Humber.”

“It definitely helped prep us. We still have work to do, but we’ll get there.” Blessed with a healthy core of returnees who have been down this road before and mixing in some key additions who have been exposed previously to this level of soccer and then some, Politi has tinkered only slightly over the course of 10-2 regular season with his perception of the tactical approach most likely to bring his team post season success.

“There is a certain style that our team, as a whole, has come to know, especially the people that have been here for two or three years,” he said. “But when you have a couple of new people thrown into the mix, you try and maximize their assets. At this point, we have a good idea about what our best lineup is.”

Similarly, all of the players, Isaia included, have a firm idea of their role in this puzzle. “When I was younger, I was more of an attacker,” noted the graduate of Marymount Academy, now in her third year with the Golden Shield. “I was not much of a defender before, but I think Giuseppe has molded me into a defensive mid. He put me in this role and really helped me understand it.”

“With a coach like Giuseppe, he really pushes you,” added Isaia. “I’m a lot more comfortable now. The people playing with me are awesome. It really helps you grow when you have people to grow with.” It’s a sentiment that is echoed by men’s keeper Dylan Roossien, the Ottawa native who stepped in admirably to fill the shoes vacated by standout goaltender Evan Phillips this fall.

“The level that I started at versus what I have grown to in the past ten games is unbelievable,” said Roossien. “I’ve grown so much. What I learned, last year, as Evan’s back-up, I pretty much put myself in those shoes and tried to do the best I could this year.”

In the eyes of Politi, that was all that he could ask for from his sophomore and his teammates. “I thought some of our scorelines were a little bit out of whack but at the end of the day, our primary objective was to qualify for the playoffs in at least the fourth position,” said Politi, noting the presence of Humber, George Brown and Sheridan, all in the same division.

“Whether this (men’s) season, for me, is successful or satisfying is all based on Tuesday’s finale.” Later this evening, the Cambrian lads will be made aware of the final score of the contest involving the George Brown Huskies (6-2-1) and the U of T Mississauga Eagles (2-4-3). A win or draw by the Huskies punches the Golden Shield ticket to the post-season.

“Coming into the season, we knew the division switch was going to be tough,” acknowledged Roossien. “I think it played out pretty much how we expected, beating the two teams below us, and losing to the teams ahead of us. We kept a couple of them close, but we still have work to do if we want to get anywhere in the playoffs.”

That is assuming, of course, that they get there first. Either way, coach and player alike are more satisfied than not with the progress the team has shown this fall. “What we take most pride in is gelling together as a unit and overcoming the adversity that comes with knowing that we are not the best team in the league,” said Roossien. “We know we can compete, as long as we put our minds to it.”

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That sense of competition is also foremost in the minds of Cambrian cross-country sensation Mary Strain and 2017 arch rival Janelle Hanna of Fanshawe. For the third straight OCAA race, the pair have gone toe to toe, outrunning the balance of the field by some twenty seconds or more.

On Saturday, at the Ashtonbee Fields and Wexford Park, the women resumed their tantalizing battle leading up to provincials, as Hanna captured first place in a time of 23:02, good for a six second win over Strain, the defending Ontario collegiate champion.

The race was the last on the OCAA schedule prior to the championships slated for October 28th at Fanshawe College in London. On the line is a winning streak for the Cambrian women, in terms of individual champions, with Strain’s gold medal last fall following directly on the heels of a similar finish by Sudburian Emily Marcolini in 2015.

Science North
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