By Charlie Pinkerton
Ottawa’s best youth soccer team from last year is on a mission to sweep their league’s three top prizes after securing the first – the OPDL Cup, which was the only title to evade them last season.
Ottawa South United (OSU) Force’s under-17 girls’ team is made up of many of the players who graduated from last year’s U15 team, who claimed their Ontario Player Development League’s (OPDL) regular season title and post-season championship (the OPDL Charity Shield). They fell short of winning the league’s triple crown of sorts last year, by falling to North Toronto SC in the finals of the mid-season OPDL Cup.
“The girls are pretty much the same team as last year but with much more of a focus-driven attitude, especially trying to reclaim not only the two championships that we won last season, but to get that trophy that we missed out on,” said Abe Osman, the head coach of OSU’s U17 girls team.
The girls claimed the elusive OPDL Cup with a 2-0 win over Oakville SC in an Aug. 17 matchup. Marissa Gravel scored both of the OSU goals.
Osman coached the same group of girls last year when they were tearing through the U15 division. He took over the lead role with the team partway through the season. He explained that the team’s success this year is an extension of their dominance last year of work they’ve been putting in since the preseason.
“Coming into this season our training was even more intense and we had tougher tournaments to try and get ready for the season, there was a lot of exposure, and our players were much more in-tuned,” he said.
Osman is also the coach of OSU’s League1 Ontario team, which he’s hoping will benefit from this dominant generation of Force girls.
“Moving the ’03 girls up into that level will only strengthen our women’s program at the highest level,” Osman said.
Following a planned midseason realignment of the U17 girls division, OSU’s team is 4-0.
OSU’s U15 boys also won their division’s OPDL Cup. They bested Hamilton United 1-0, courtesy of a goal scored just before end of the first half by Anthony Domanico. Osman is an assistant coach for the U15 boys team as well. He had high praise for them also.
“On paper, the ‘04 boys look like a very strong, dynamic team. They’ve got a lot of size and a lot of speed and very great technical ability,” Osman said.
At the time of publication, OSU’s U15 boys were in 2nd place in the east division of their league with a record of 11-1-3. West Ottawa’s U-15 boys were one spot back from them with a record of 9-1-5.