Putting the show in showcase
Lamar Abusaleemeh made the most of her final year of high school girls soccer.
The Grade 12 student at Laura Secord netted 19 goals in six games to lead her school to the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association Tier 2 championship and was back at it again Monday night in Niagara College’s Eighth Annual Niagara Region Soccer Showcase at Youngs Sportsplex.
The 18-year-old resident was named Team Blue MVP after scoring her squad’s lone goal in a 3-1 loss to Team White.
“It is crazy,” Abusaleemeh said of the MVP award. “I didn’t think I would win the MVP but I did.”
She was looking forward to playing in Tuesday’s game.
“I just wanted to play my hardest and show everybody my talent. It is a showcase game so I had to put everything I had into it.”
It was a great experience for her to play in the game.
“It was really nice seeing people who can actually play the sport, pass it around and understand the game. It was nice to have those people in the game.”
Her favourite part of the game was seeing Team Blue play as a team.
“It was everyone communicating and understanding where they were supposed to be. And also scoring my goal,” she said, with a laugh.
Abusaleemeh began playing soccer in Jordan in the Middle East.
“I used to play with my brother a lot and practise with my friends. From that, I just started playing with myself like practising against the wall and stuff. I got better and kept practising every day.”
Her family came to Canada three years ago this December and she continued playing soccer with Laura Secord and also did one year of travel soccer with the St. Catharines Jets.
Abusaleemeh is off to Brock University this fall to study business and communications and hopes to try out for the school’s soccer team. She would love nothing more than to keep playing.
“I like being on the field playing and having fun.”
BELCASTRO NAMED TEAM WHITE MVP
It’s all soccer, all the time for Maya Belcastro.
The 17-year-old, Grade 11 student at Notre Dame is on the pitch pretty much year around and the extra effort appears to be paying off.
Belcastro scored a goal and was named Team White Most Valuable Player Monday at Youngs Sportsplex.
“It feels really great. It’s definitely a nice feeling,” she said.
Belcastro formerly played at the Ontario Player Development League level before joining the New York Flash, who play out of Buffalo.
“We play in Western New York and all over the States,” she said.
Belcastro enjoyed the Showcase concept which saw her play with and against some of the top high school players in the region.
“I definitely wanted to take it serious and have fun with girls I usually don’t play with. Take it serious and get some touches on the ball,” she said.
The granddaughter of John (Boxer) Belcastro, a long-time educator at Notre Dame, admits she’s always had a combative streak.
“I’ve always been very competitive at a young age. Since I was little I’ve always had that strong mindset to score,” she said. “I’ve always been an attacking player.”
Belcastro formerly played basketball and was a long-time gymnast as well before concentrating solely on soccer.
“It’s soccer all year around,” she smiled.
Niagara College women’s head coach Rob Lalama enjoyed the evening.
“The Showcase is a nice way to end the high school soccer season in Niagara. Players enjoy competing against and with their rivals from other schools,” he said. “What a fun event.”
Ava Stranges of Saint Paul and Reilly McNeil of Denis Morris also scored for Team White.
Lamar Abusaleemeh replied for Team Blue.
Below are the rosters for Monday’s game:
Girls Blue Team
Megan Barker, (Sir Winston Churchill); Solange Savoury, (ES Saint-Jean-de-Brebeuf); Mia Wendling, (ES Saint-Jean-de-Brebeuf); Tessa Vahrmeyer, (Holy Cross Catholic SS); Sophia Franklin, (Holy Cross Catholic SS); Kayleigh Anderson, (Greater Fort Erie SS); Joop Hockham, (Greater Fort Erie SS); Allison Huizinga, (Heritage Christian School); Emily Wagter, (Heritage Christian School); Juliana Mack Greco, (Welland Centennial SS); Kaya Lambrechts, (Welland Centennial SS); Lamar Abusaleemeh, (Laura Secord SS); Alice van ‘T Riet, (Laura Secord SS); Savannah Speck, (Eden High School); Marlie Droppert, (Smithville Christian HS); Mikayla May, (Smithville Christian HS); Kate Smyth, (Sir Winston Churchill).
Girls White Team
Hope Fair, (Lakeshore Catholic HS); Arshpeet Saini, (A.N. Myer SS); Siera Warkentin, (A.N. Myer SS); Jaleena Bell, (A.N. Myer SS); Grace Kleiboer, (E.L. Crossley SS); Rylee Sammutt, (E.L. Crossley SS) ; Maya Bassi, (Notre Dame College School); Maya Belcastro, (Notre Dame College School); Holly Bogusat, (Governor Simcoe SS); Jamie Addy, (Governor Simcoe SS); Ava Stranges, (St. Paul Catholic HS); Michaela Carbonara, (St. Paul Catholic HS); Ava Douglas, (Denis Morris CHS); Reilly McNeil, (Denis Morris CHS); Jordan Howcroft, (St. Michael Catholic HS); Henlee Mahoney, (St. Michael Catholic HS); Jada McLaren, (Blessed Trinity Catholic HS).