Cambrian College’s men’s soccer coach, Giuseppe Politi, has plenty of experience in devising defensive systems for teams which, on paper, may appear to fall a little short on pure skill in comparison to some of the larger institutions in the province.
This year, he hopes to enjoy himself a little using the flipside of that strategy coin.
“The real difference for this year is the influx of attacking players,” noted Politi in the aftermath of a solid season-opening with a1-0 win over the Durham Lords, a traditional divisional powerhouse. “We’ve got some different options with our new players going forward.”
“We have some nifty attacking players that can hopefully cause some trouble for the opposition,” he added. “That will be the biggest change from last year to this year, that hopefully will enable us to produce a little more going forward.”
While the back-end does not feature a glut of returning talent, two top-end keystones are back to anchor the crew. There are few athletes who have donned the Cambrian soccer uniform over the years who can match the character that is part of the package with center-back Aaron Dent, with the St. Benedict graduate handling the role of co-captain again this year.
Additionally, it took only a handful of games, last year, for Toronto native Evan Phillips to establish himself as an elite OCAA netminder, earning a spot on the all-star team in the process.
But it is the attacking component of this team, both through the midfield and up top, that provides some of the most compelling storylines. “In the tactical system that we’ve set up, we’ve given them a little more leeway in certain parts of the field to be creative, to do things that might unbalance and confuse opposing defenses,” said Politi.
A product of the youth soccer system in the Sudbury, Marcello Tantalo has returned home after fine-tuning his game both in Southern Ontario and overseas. “He brings a good skill-set; he is a very creative attacking-type player,” stated Politi. “When he’s on, he can be very lethal.”
Veterans Irijah Bartholomew and Ousmane Dieri (Jerry) Drame are back, and they will be joined by North Toronto product Richard John, playmaker Scott Elliot, and Nigerian-born David Nwaokolo, the rookie of the year on the Golden Shield men’s basketball team in 2014-2015.
And while there is young local talent added to the mix in the form of Nick Walker and Bruno Veloso, there is also Lockerby Composite graduate Brent Huffels, who is a few years removed from his playing days at Laurentian University and is playing his final swan song at Cambrian.
“He’s got experience, he understands the game, he brings a maturity that comes with being a little older, a calming presence,” noted Politi. “It creates a nice mix with some of the young guys. It was a nice pick-up.”
And when it all comes together, the end goal is not all that dissimilar to other years. “We want to qualify for the post-season and see what we can do,” said Politi. “If at the end of September, we have more points than we would have predicted, then maybe we shoot for a playoff home game.”
Pitch Pointers: The Cambrian men opened the season with a win over Durham, at home,this past weekend, but are right back on in front of family and friends on September 19th and 20th. The Golden Shield will host the St Lawrence Vikings Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (women play at noon), and then welcome the Algonquin Thunder to town on Sunday.