By Brendan Shykora
The beat rolled on for Ottawa South United’s Under-15 girls at the 2018 Ontario Summer Games. The youth competitive soccer team played its way to a silver medal at the London, Ont. games, which took place halfway through a season they’ve been dominating in the Ontario Player Development League (OPDL).
“The girls performed to the level that they’ve performed at all season,” said head coach Abraham Osman. Eleven games deep in their OPDL season, Osman’s girls have established a 10-1 record and stand eight points clear of 2nd place in the Eastern division.
With a bit more luck on some key plays, the gold medal match against Toronto North on Aug. 5 could have been theirs. After giving up an early goal, the team promptly responded with a chance of their own, but struck the goal post on the opportunity, which would stand as one of their best of the game. A Toronto free kick late in the second half slipped past the OSU goaltender, but the team again responded with a strong offensive push, this time finding the twine with 10 minutes left. The game ended as a 3-1 loss.
Far from disappointed, Osman lauded his girls’ effort over a “grueling” schedule of four games in four days.
“In all four games we were the team with the most passes and the most possessions,” he highlighted.
An OSU coach since 2003, Osman says the 10-1 record is the best start to a season from a girls’ team under his instruction.
A season like this would have been hard to imagine a year ago, when the same core group of girls finished second-to-last in the U14 Eastern division of the OPDL. Changes to the roster have helped, but they’ve also been minimal; only two new players and one under-ager were added to this year’s team.
“It’s a testament to the work they’ve put in having not liked the way things went last year and growing as a group,” Osman said.
The road to the OPDL Cup continues for the U15 girls, who face Aurora FC in their next game on August 30. Coach Osman hopes finishing 2nd at the Summer Games will leave the team with an appetite heading into the second half of the season.
“I think it will only help these girls as they try to achieve something they’ve never done before. I think it will help them tremendously.”