OSU Sends 8 players to Ontario Provincial Teams

For years, there was no need for a stop in Prescott, but the Team Ontario bus was thankful to round up the eight Ottawa South United Force players en route to Montreal’s south shore for this season’s provincial teams competition against Quebec.

A number of local players selected for the Quebec vs Ontario matches made a big impact as Ontario swept the three-game series at each level from U14 through U16 in boys’ and girls’ action on the April 24-26 and May 1-3 weekends.

“Everyone did really well,” highlights U14 boys’ striker Danny Assaf, who profited from the chemistry he owns with OSU midfielder Antonio Carlini to feed him passes. “It’s an advantage. I play with him and we know how we like to play.”

After a tie in their first game, Assaf launched Ontario to a 3-2 win with a pair of goals in their second match and cruised to a 4-1 victory in the third encounter. In the girls’ U14 competition, OSU’s Ariel Young and Olivia Cooke also found their way onto the scoresheet.

“It was really awesome,” recounts Young, who moved up from her fullback position to score her goal. “Two of us from Ottawa both scored, so that was really good representation.”

Mollie Eriksson enjoyed having a number of OSU teammates at her side for the event. The 2000-born goalkeeper had previously been part of regional, provincial and national programs, but she was the only Ottawa participant on most occasions.

“It was just me and my dad for a lot of it,” notes Eriksson. “It was really good to travel together and it was just more fun because we could room with them and not feel so lonely.”

U16 girls’ striker Clarissa Larissey, last year’s OYSL scoring champion, savoured the intensity of the matches between the provincial rivals.

“At the top, the game just gets faster and faster,” indicates the Grade 10 Sacred Heart High School student who’s already thinking about going to university thanks to her soccer exploits. “Working to get an education and then going to Team Canada, that’s pretty much the goal.”

Getting the best chance to strive for bigger objectives was a main attraction for Youma Konate to join OSU two years ago, even if it can take the Grade 9 Colonel By Secondary School student 45 minutes to get to the field sometimes.

“Here at OSU, they teach you everything so you can succeed at a higher level,” explains the U15 girls’ centre-back. “The coaching is amazing and all the players are really skilled. It’s really fun and it’s a good environment to play in.”

The prospect of playing for Team Ontario acted as a strong motivator, says Emily Amano.

“It always kept you going,” recalls the U15 girls’ attacking midfielder. “In training, you wanted to push that much farther so you could get that spot.”

The pre-season experience with Team Ontario has translated into a quick start for OSU’s nine teams in provincial league play, having recorded just one single loss across all age groups through three weekends of play.

“During our games, you can definitely see (the impact),” signals U14 girls’ forward Olivia Cooke, the owner of a five goal-game in one of her OPDL team’s two wins and tie. “It was incredible training, and I think that really helped us get a glimpse of that perspective of a professional environment with the best in Ontario.”

With OSU players having earned an equal number of provincial team positions last season, Club Head Coach Paul Harris says that the repeat representation provides a big reason for the club to celebrate.

“The fact that it’s consistent and becoming habitual, I think Ottawa has been put on the map,” Harris underlines. “It’s a great progression. It’s a testament to the club and all the coaches for all the hard work that’s put in behind the scenes. Now we’re not just getting one or two into the Ontario team, we’re getting seven or eight every year.

“We want to keep increasing our numbers every year and show the powerhouse that OSU is in Ontario.”

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