By Dan Plouffe
They’re not quite on the doorstep of greatness like the under-17 boys, but Ottawa South United has a remarkable four other squads competing in the Ontario Youth Soccer League.
Each of them are holding up in battle with the province’s top clubs, as are OYSL squads from Nepean, Capital City and Gloucester.
“Youth soccer has changed in Ottawa with how high the skill level has become,” notes OSU president Bill Michalopulos. “And the interesting thing for us is it’s not the odd team here or there. Ottawa South United is generating consistently good teams that can compete in Ontario against anybody.”
The Force U17 boys are a game away from an east division title, while the other OSU teams playing Level 1 soccer are around the .500 mark.
The U14 girls are 4-6-6 in a tight east division race, the 4-3-4 U14 boys also find themselves in a very competitive east category, the U15 girls are well out of the running for first place but sit just a point from third at 3-6-4, while the U15 boys own a 3-9-1 record.
OSU is the only local club with OYSL teams competing at more than one level, and Michalopulos expects their number of entries may rise to six or seven next season – a testament to the club’s success, he highlights.
“We’re very proud of all our kids,” says Michalopulos, adding that the club’s passion for soccer, not to mention a winning formula, helps attract players from across the city and as far as Kingston. “They like our program because our program has demonstrated that it can be effective.”
Helped by the fact that they attend top U.S. showcase events each year, Michalopulos is particularly pleased to see the attention many of the U17 boys have received from NCAA eyes – he expects six or seven could receive scholarships to play south of the border next year.
“They’ve worked hard for many, many years, while having fun too,” adds the former Switzerland semi-pro league player who has two kids on OSU teams. “They love the game and it’s good to see them getting rewarded for it in a more tangible manner from an academic and sports perspective.”
The Nepean Hotspurs U17 girls carry the city’s best record next to the OSU U17 boys. Although they’re well back of undefeated Pickering, the 8-4-1 Hotspurs are comfortably in third place and a win behind second.
The U17 girls level is the only age category that features two local OYSL teams, with the Gloucester Hornets struggling to a 3-8 record.
The Capital United U16 girls are the final Ottawa squad competing in the OYSL, holding their place nicely in the top four at 7-5-2.
Level 3 East Region Soccer League regular season play – from which local teams qualify for the OYSL – wraps up Sept. 11. Hosted by the Nepean Hotspurs, the ERSL Cup finals are set for Sept. 18.
See related story: OSU U17s approach historic OYSL title
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