HIGH FIVES...Stella Hong (left) congratulates team-mate Ellen Salewicz after a clash with Ottawa South United

NORTH TORONTO NITROS 07 Girls came away from their trip to the Ottawa Spring Kick-Off Classic a better team as they bonded off the field and faced excellent challenges on it.

The girls tackled tough opposition from host club Ottawa South United and top sides from Montreal and Quebec over a packed weekend of exhibition and tournament action.

Nitros' relationship with the OSU program meant that on their off day from tournament action all three 07 girls strings had matched-up exhibition games against the host club.

The format proved to be a terrific learning experience for the girls who also enjoyed their down time at night as they ate and had fun together as a team. 


SMILES IN STYLE...07s Girls head coach Jesse Assing shows just how much he enjoyed the clashes against OSU

For head coach Jesse Assing the trip was a vital part of the girls' growing soccer education and he said: "We have a really gifted group and they were challenged in every game they played in Ottawa.

"The fields were excellent, it was a very well-run tournament and it was great to see how much the girls enjoyed being in each others' company around the hotel at night.

"All the sides we faced were physical and the girls learned so much in the matches which was important for us as they now travel to the States for their first ever competitive tournament in Rochester.

"The Ottawa trip was a big success and it's a tournament I would venture to again next year to help develop our teams. It gives them a chance to face the best from other areas of Canada and that was an eye-opener for them."

* would like to thank our intrepid photographer Laurie Melbourne for the terrific shots of the girls from the trip. 


RED-DY TO Ilya Orlov with the 06s boys squad who were in terrific form at Glen Shields

NORTH TORONTO NITROS' 06 boys shone in festival action at Glen Shields and West Rouge at the weekend as the entire program kicked off their summer season in style.

Head coach Ilya Orlov was with his boys at Glen Shields and saw them turn in two terrific displays against Woodbridge and Kleinberg. Theo Martin, Jackson Sorger and Xavier Beland were all on the goal trail in the matches as dedicated keeper Alex O'Brien racked up two impressive clean sheets.

It was a day for the entire squad to show their ability, though, and one that left coach Ilya to reflect: "I am very happy with how the boys are developing.

"In the time I have been with them, technically they are getting better and most importantly their decision-making in the four phases of the game is improving.

"The big focus is always on their technical development with the ball mixed with decision-making. Even at this age they are starting to understand concepts and principles of the game."

The year before the players move to the Ontario Player Development League (OPDL) is a key one and it is one Ilya feels they must face in the correct environment.

He stressed: "We are establishing a culture where the players are brave to try new things without a fear of making mistakes. They play out of the back with lots of pressure and they try a lot of 1v1s everywhere around the field.

"If they make a mistake, it doesn't matter they have to try again. The score is not emphasised but the correct way to help to win in the future. This is the idea we want to establish leading into OPDL.

"These are the things that we want to see in 11 v 11. In my opinion, nothing should change from 9 v 9 to 11v11. It should be a continuous progression and you just add two more players.

"All of this is possible thanks to all the coaches that have worked with this group from Under-8 onwards, without the technical base that the players have established from back in those days a lot of this development would not be possible." 

As Ilya's team flourished at Glen Shields coach Javier Insuaste's squad were also in excellent form in their festival at West Rouge as they too turned in two impressive performances.

For head coach Ilya the depth of the group is important with players throughout the season continuing to progress and move forward in the Nitros program.

The UEFA A licence holder sees a real thirst for knowledge within his players now and he said: "We have a core group of players who are very committed with an amazing desire to train, work hard and improve every session and game.

"This is the number one thing we talk about as a group, a growth mindset. Always work hard, take chances in difficult moments and if you make a mistake it doesn't matter...try again. This is what I want for them to keep improving, the mentality of always trying to be better every session and every game."


SCARLETT NOWA-WOW-SKI...Nitros' 06 Girls midfielder won league titles in both ice hockey and volleyball this winter. Here she is in action on the ice above and fifth from left for Havergal, team-mate Mackenzie is fifth from right

NORTH TORONTO NITROS 06 Girls midfielder Scarlett Nowakowski is on soccer duty in Ottawa this weekend - after a winter that saw her crowned a league champion in both volleyball and ice hockey!

The U12 player is the essence of the multi-sport athlete in a squad that has a host of girls gifted in more than one discipline.

Scarlett’s hectic winter - where she juggled her school sports with Nitros games at Hershey and a frantic hockey season with Minor Peewee AA Toronto Shamrocks - saw her sparkle in volleyball alongside her NT team-mate Mackenzie Johnson.

Scarlett, the only girl on the Shamrocks side, helped her side finish first overall in the Greater Toronto Hockey League East regular season and make the GTHL Championship Finals.

In that competition the Shamrocks were crowned East Division playoff champs and they faced off against the West Division winners where they were just edged out in the quest to be the best in Toronto.

Over the season Scarlett racked up 83 hockey games whilst still helping her Nitros team-mates to an excellent campaign of development in the Hershey League.

On the volleyball front Scarlett and her Nitros pal Mackenzie shone for Havergal as their school side won the Division 1 Championships for CISAA (Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association) in another excellent athletic endeavour for the Nitros’ multi-tasking midfielder.

Now for summer the focus returns to the soccer field and Scarlett’s coach Iain King said: “Every study you read and ponder now warns of the dangers of single sport specialisation for grassroots children.

“I have been lucky enough to be able to watch our players in athletics and volleyball finals and find it fascinating and uplifting to see how they shine in other sports.

"Coming from Scotland, where soccer is an obsession, it is also an education to watch how coaches work in other disciplines. 

“Scarlett is a terrific example of a true multi-sport athlete and she has had a hectic and hugely successful winter. We look forward now to helping her develop as a soccer player through a busy summer for her team.”


BIGGEST TEST YET....our 07s boys group will face MLS Academy side Montreal Impact in Ottawa this weekend

THREE Nitros' age groups, 31 games and two hectic days in the nation's capital await this weekend when the 06 Girls and the 07s Boys and Girls head to Ottawa for the Spring Kick-Off Classic.

A winter of planning comes to fruition for over 100 Nitros players as they face exhibition games and tournament play against some top quality opposition from Ottawa, Quebec and Montreal.

It's a terrific test for all the players with one of the highlights being our 07 Boys facing MLS franchise Montreal Impact's Academy side on Sunday afternoon.

There are a host of games for our nine teams before that, though, with Technical Coaches Iain King, Jesse Assing, Tom Waud and Nic Hurtado making the trip to guide our players.

Look out for news and pictures on the trip on next week. And the owner of THAT haircut featured on our home page?

Our 07s Green Boys keeper Michael Konstantopoulos - will goalie guru Jeff Sanderson follow suit and get his cut like one of his proteges? Time will tell....


TAKING THE MICHAEL...goalie Konstantopoulos and his haircut for Oshawa


TASTES LIKE Jesse Assing (left) celebrates with his fellow Nitros Avery (far left back row), Grace (far right back row) and Sammy and Ally (far right front row) after the John Fisher Penguins won the City Badminton Championship  

NORTH TORONTO NITROS’ 06 Girls showed their multi-sport skills as four of the players had key roles in helping John Fisher Penguins land the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) City Badminton banner.

Ally Naccarato, Sammy Boone, Avery Rogers and Grace Breen played their hearts out as their side clinched a 4-1 triumph over Palmerston Public School in the Final.

And the Nitros influences didn’t end there. They were coached by our own Jesse Assing who was a University badminton star and currently guides U10/U11 Nitros soccer  players.

Jesse, who recently gained his C License coaching qualification on the soccer field, used his court expertise to guide the girls through a nerve-wracking day of competition before they won the tournament.

And he smiled: “I was so proud of them, they are gifted multi-sport athletes.

“There were a lot of clutch matches throughout the day but they just kept finding the answers, it was a lot of fun to watch.”

The Nitros foursome got the congratulations of their team-mates when they returned to practice and now look ahead to an exhibition double-header with Richmond Hill this weekend before tournaments next month in Oshawa and Ottawa as they prepare for the summer league season.


PRIZE GUY...our Nitros 07s player JP Mahony with the GTHL City trophy

NORTH TORONTO NITROS 07s striker JP Mahony displayed his multi-sport talents as his Leaside Flames Atom AA team were crowned the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) City Champions.

JP'S side beat the top west division team, the York Toros, to advance to the Provincial Championship which will be played in North Bay from April 12-15.

Leaside had ended their regular season in third place but defeated second-placed Westhill Golden Hawks and the fourth-ranked team North Toronto Wild to advance to the championship round.

JP was back in soccer practice with his 07s team-mates on Tuesday night as they gear up for the outdoor season which starts next month - before that we wish JP and the Flames every success in the Provincials.


TAKE IT AS RED...the victorious U16s girls with the trophy and their medals after last weekend's Hangar Final




AN eagerly-waited Nitros derby in the Final at the Hangar ended in a dramatic victory for the U16 squad thanks to a late winner from Tara Davis in a seven-goal thriller.

The 17s side, coached by Nordo Gooden, took an early lead through Emily Halman and only a diving block from Elise Adam prevented them stretching their advantage.

Their younger clubmates, though, began to settle into the match and soon levelled it through a great strike from Rosie Nicholls.

Now the pendulum had swung in the 16s favour and Nicholls struck again to make it 2-1 only to see the 17s react almost immediately and tie it all up through Nicole Boettcher.

The Final was now living up to its billing and a brilliant solo goal from Rachel Turnbull put the 16s in front before Isabella Eggart levelled the match once more at 3-3.

Penalties loomed but with just four minutes to go it was Davis who stepped in to score the clincher and seal a thrilling win for the younger Nitros.

The U16s had finished the season in fourth place in the League with a 7-10-1 W-L-D record and took on the no1 seeds SC Toronto with a 16-2-0 W-L-D in the semi-finals.

A hugely entertaining encounter finished 2-2 with the Nitros winning the penalty shootout to advance. This was a huge triumph for the girls considering SC had finished 25 points ahead of them in the rankings.

The U17 squad finished the regular season in second place with a 15-3-0 W-L-D record and they defeated the no3 seeds Toronto High Park 5-1 to clinch their Final slot.

Delighted winning coach Shane O’Flaherty of the 16s squad said: “The game was a great promotion for girls football and a great showcase for North Toronto soccer club. We are proud of both teams.”

NITROS UNITED...the teams before The Friendly Final with coaches Nordo Gooden and Shane O'Flaherty

The squads who made the Final were:

U16s: Kayla Verge,  Lauren Murphy, Katherine Rita, Rosie Nicholls, Elise Adam, Tara Davis,  Tess Jacob, Rachel Turnbull, Kyra-Mei Pratt, Paige Reynolds,  Isabella Antonio, Ariana Bill.

U17s:  Andrea Bertucci, Cassie Sidebottom, Nicky Boettcher, Shamiah Stinchcombe-Brown,  Macey Clandfield, Bella Eggert, Beatrice Ahmed, Emily Halman, Sydney Dyck, Kenzie Jardim, Philippa Holtforster,  India Tory, Rachel Curwen.


PRIDE OF THE OPDL..Shield winners Sonia (back row third from right) and Olivia (front row fourth from right) 

SONIA WALK and Olivia Smith took major strides in their soccer development at North Toronto Nitros - now they stand on the brink of playing for Canada’s Women’s Under-17 team in the World Cup.

This week central defender Sonia and midfield prodigy Olivia are at the heart of the national squad’s EXCEL program training camp in Markham.

Head coach Bev Priestman’s girls are preparing for the CONCACAF championship in Managua, Nicaragua, next month as they bid to win a qualifying place for the Women’s World Cup in Uruguay in November.

Sonia and Olivia were part of Marko Milanovic’s 2002 Girls Ontario Player Development League (OPDL) winning squad last season.

The Nitros Head Coach enjoys every step of their progress now and he said: “I am very proud to see them amongst the best players in the country at the U17 level. 

“This selection will further motivate them to continue to work on their games.

“Ultimately, the goal is to make the top team and I'm pleased that they're going in the right direction. It's a great honour to wear the national kit and these girls are living that experience.”

Marko and his coaching staff created an environment for the players to thrive in at NT.

Yet he believes it is the relentless drive and insatiable hunger to learn that lives within the girls themselves that has been the key to their progress so far.

He revealed: “Sonia has always had an unbelievable work ethic.

“It's quite rare to see a youth player handle themselves in such a professional manner and more importantly do it on a regular basis.

“During all these years, I can't recall a single field session, classroom session or a match in which she didn't give absolutely everything.

“As a result of her approach, she has developed into a strong technical player with a great attention to detail.

“I can say that her discipline and consistency have not only inspired her team-mates but also the staff, including myself.”

At the age of just 14 Olivia is a special talent, a player to excite at the business end of the soccer field.

Marko knew from the off he was helping to guide an exceptional prospect who instantly won the respect of her older team-mates.

And he stressed: “Olivia is a player who stands out from the group within five seconds of her gaining possession.

“Her ability to create and finish in the final third is something that I've never seen before from a youth female player.

“All of it becomes even more impressive with the fact that she is still just 14.

“Personally, I love how much she loves the game and competition.  It's infectious and it gets everyone excited and pumped for the upcoming challenge.

“It was a privilege to work with these girls and be a small part of their lives.”

Community soccer clubs like North Toronto need inspirational examples such as Sonia and Olivia to help soccer grow in a multi-sport country like Canada.

They are role models now, figures to encourage female players throughout every NT program and Marko insisted: “Their success should have a major impact on aspiring female players at our club.

“It’s so important for our younger players to see that it's possible to reach that level playing at our club, playing for NT.

“More importantly, they should be able to realise that the passion, hard work, desire and dedication that Olivia and Sonia have shown are a MUST to have a chance to reach that level.

“I would highlight passion as the key ingredient here because, often, I feel that youth players are not desperate and hungry enough to be successful.”

That vital element of hunger was fuelled in the NTSC DNA of Sonia, Olivia and the club’s third Regional Excellence Program (REX) Program recruit Jasmine Vilgrain who has been battling back from a concussion to continue her soccer journey.

The target for the girls now is to make the 20-player CONCACAF squad for Nicaragua next month as Canada bid to win one of the three World Cup slots available for qualifying from the eight-team tournament.

Head Coach Priestman’s side will face Bermuda, Costa Rica and the USA in their group matches and Canada Soccer’s Women’s National EXCEL Director knows her staff will have a difficult choice whittling it down after the Markham camp.

She said: “We know it is going to be a very tough decision to get our squad down to the first 20 players.

“The CONCACAF is a great window and a key development step for young, talented players to gain unique tournament experiences and be pitted against some good opposition in a major competition.

“Our selections will be based on the potential that we can see in them to go on and eventually play for the Women’s National Team in the future.”


NORTH TORONTO NITROS 2005 Girls squad are in Virginia this weekend primed to impress in one of the top 10 tournaments in the USA.

Marc Maunder’s U13 side take part in the Jefferson Cup in Richmond with high hopes of continuing their excellent road trip form.

The 2005 girls have already competed in a tournament in Ohio and last year they triumphed when they travelled to play in the Fall Ball Classic in Cincinnati.

Now they head to the States to test themselves against challenging opposition when the tournament kicks off on Saturday.

Coach Marc, who won last season’s Ontario Player Development League (OPDL) Charity Shield with his 2003 Girls side, is relishing the challenge ahead of his younger group.

And he said: “There are 14 tiers in this tournament and we have been granted entry in Tier Seven which shows the scale of the competition.

“The majority of the players are flying down to meet us there but my assistant coach Bill Sutherland and I will head down Thursday and use that 11-hour drive down there to talk about what is ahead of us.”

Nitros Assistant Technical Director Marc has six years of Canadian coaching experience behind him since he emigrated to Toronto from Wales.

He is in no doubt of the value of Nitros teams taking trips together to develop as players both on and OFF the field.

Marc stressed: “I feel the travel tournaments are vital. Just from speaking to the parents this week the excitement levels for the girls travelling is like nothing else.

“They are so happy to be going away as a team and to get the chance to compete together.

“This is now their third trip away together, they started off on the road in Ohio and then last year they won the Fall Ball Classic in Cincinnati in the top bracket.

“That was their first experience with scores and standings and the sight of our captain lifting the trophy will live with me for a long time.

“We won convincingly 3-0 against FC Carmel in the Final and it was an amazing experience for the girls.”

          HAVIN' A BALL IN THE FALL...the 2005 Nitros girls squad who won the Cincinnati Fall Ball Classic

Nitros kick off against North Carolina Premier on Saturday morning before their second group clash against Western New York Flash in the afternoon.

The NT Newsdesk will keep you up to date with their progress here on the website and Marc feels a good showing from the girls can pave the way for other Nitros teams to make the trip to Virginia.

He pointed out: “This is an important trip because it is well-known how difficult it is to get into the Jefferson Cup.

“We are the first NT team to travel to this tournament and if we do well this could be another step for the club building on their reputation in the States.

“That has happened in North Carolina and in the Disney tournaments where we have done exceptionally well.

“It all helps to spread the name of North Toronto SC. We asked for the top bracket here but the highest we were given was seventh out of the 14.

“That shows the strength in depth and the level of soccer in Virginia and right now we are an unknown quantity.

“The Ontario Player Development League (OPDL) is only five years old right now and we have to help to establish the reputation of the league now too.”


THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN...Katelyn Reid, Grace Breen, Avery Rogers, Maggie Atkinson, Ally Naccarato, Laura Kelly and Sammy Boone shone for John Fisher's volleyball side

SEVEN of our North Toronto Nitros 06 Girls Pre-OPDL squad switched sports to do their club and school proud as John Fisher reached the last four of the Volleyball City Finals.

Katelyn Reid, Grace Breen, Avery Rogers, Maggie Atkinson, Ally Naccarato, Laura Kelly and Sammy Boone all starred as the JF girls went down narrowly to Cornell in the semi-final.

The girls have been integral parts of the two Nitros 06 squads who have been impressing over the winter season.

Their U12 Girls Head Coach Iain King was in the crowd at Humber College to cheer the girls on in an exciting match-up.

And he said: “It was terrific to see what gifted multi-sport athletes we have in the squad.

“I found it fascinating to watch the coaching tactics of another sport and was really proud of the effort all the Nitros put in on the court.

“They came up just a little short against a really strong Cornell team but they have had a superb season in volleyball as well as soccer.

“They were disappointed to lose just one step from the Final but were all back at Nitros practice smiling and ready to learn the next night. They are a pleasure to work with.”