Rookie big boost to Thunder roster
There’s nothing quite like a Grade 9 player stepping in and being an impact player for a girls soccer team.
The Blessed Trinity Thunder are blessed to have Chiara Nicolazzo playing centre midfielder for them. She was recently named to Team Ontario.
“She controls the field so well,” Blessed Trinity head coach Megan Schweitzer said, after her team tied Saint Francis 1-1 Tuesday in Niagara Catholic Athletic Association play at Kiwanis Field. “She has very good body position, she knows her body well and has a great awareness of the field and the players on the field. She is confident in her skills which is a good thing to have for her age.”
The Blessed Trinity coaching staff was eagerly awaiting her arrival last fall.
“We knew she was coming,” Schweitzer said. “It’s exciting when you have some good Grade 9s coming up and you know that they are going to be with us for four years.”
The 14-year-old Beamsville resident plays for Hamilton United in the Ontario Player Development League and was invited to a provincial selection camp based on her play in that league and input from her coaches. She was one of 80-100 players invited to an initial training camp and from there, she was selected to Team Ontario’s 20-player roster. Team Ontario will travel to Quebec in a few weeks to play other provinces.
She was informed of the news via email.
“Honestly I was in shock because if you think of it, it is the best 20 players in the province. It is really exciting.”
Nicolazzo’s selection to Team Ontario didn’t come easy.
“I have been working hard and constantly training after practice and on my own time,” she said. “I do a lot of footwork, sprints and shooting, going for jogs and working out.”
She feels that and other factors have helped take her game to another level.
“I have become more of a committed player because before when I was younger I wasn’t as committed. I remember before COVID hit that I started training a lot harder and I also gained a new style of soccer,” she said. “I became a more technical player.”
She honed her technique by constantly practising different moves and going on-line to learn from different coaches.
High school soccer is important to Nicolazzo.
“It gives me extra training and when it comes time for games in my own league, I am able to go against girls who are much stronger and faster than me.”
Schweitzer wasn’t thrilled with her team giving up the late goal against Saint Francis.
“It is a little bit frustrating but it happens. It is part of the sport.”
But there was a silver lining for the 6-0-1 Thunder.
“We came first out of the NCAA which is really good and most likely we will play Saint Mike’s or Notre Dame in the final.”
Scoring for the Thunder was Mya Demirbas.
The Thunder will host the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations AAA championships June 8-10 and Schweitzer likes her team. It is guaranteed a host berth in the provincial championships.
“They are a great group of girls, very dedicated and they all have really good experience. They are also very encouraging and they show good sportsmanship on the field.”
Saint Francis Lori DiGaetano coach was thrilled with her team’s performance versus Blessed Trinity. Petra Hidas scored the tying goal for the Phoenix with about 10 seconds left in the game.
“We just go out with a positive mentality and that is the best feature of the team,” she said.
Saint Francis came into the game as the top NCAA AA team with a 2-1-2 record but were passed by Holy Cross, which defeated Lakeshore Catholic 3-1 Tuesday. With the tie, the Phoenix snapped the Thunder’s six-game winning streak.
“We have a very dynamic and positive team that really works cohesively and supports each other regardless of the positions that they play,” DiGaetano said. “Because we are so united as a group and they are so positive, that creates a good momentum to attack our opponents.”
Saint Francis is taking nothing for granted as the regular season winds down.
“I never underestimate the competition. I think we have played very well so far this season but Holy Cross, who we play on Thursday, is also doing very well,” she said. “We have had some injuries and the girls have been dynamic as to moving around positions and supporting each other and just going out there to put their best foot forward. That is our approach. We are going to go attack it on Thursday and let the results take care of themselves.”