Wolves holding their own
Just past the halfway point of their second season in the League1 Ontario Premier Division, St. Catharines Club Roma Wolves director of soccer operations Carmine Provenzano feels things are generally on track, although there is still work to be done.
The Wolves are fielding both a men’s and women’s team this season after starting with a just a men’s team last year.
The men’s team has struggled to find consistency with just three wins in their first 13 games after a strong showing last season.
“I think it’s more of a long-term thing and it’s growing pains,” Provenzano said. “We’re going to see some of that and hopefully that changes next year and we become more consistent. We’ve got a good core and we added a couple of players in key positions and they needed to gel and now they’re staring to gel.
“I think in the next year or two we’re going to see that team flourish. I think we’re going to be a strong team in two years.”
Provenzano said the men’s squad hasn’t had much in the way of good fortune this season.
“They are guys who have been in the league for seven or eight years and you can’t beat that experience,” he said. “It seems like when we make a mistake it goes in the net and when other teams make a mistake it’s harder for us to put it in the net.
“It’s not a knock, it’s kind of an experience thing.”
The Wolves have done their best to keep their spirits up.
“I think the coaching staff is up and down a little bit. We want to win every game obviously but we’re in most games which is why we want to win every game,” Provenzano said. “We had a tough one in Hamilton (6-0 loss) but other than that we’ve had a lot of tight games. It’s more or less the experience factor and our consistency. Our consistency isn’t always there and that is hard to get with a young team in any sport.”
The women’s squad are off to a solid start for a first-year team with a 7-6-2 mark.
“I think the women have done more than expected,” Provenzano said. “I knew we had speed and knew we could probably score some goals but we’re winning games. Coach Lucio Ianiero has done a great job with that team. He’s a very calming influence on the players. What we lack in experience we make up for with athleticism.”
Provenzano said the organization was thrilled to add the women’s team.
“It’s great. It rounds out the whole region with the men’s and women’s. It’s hugely import for the young players in the region that they have something they can look forward to in years to come. Players would leave the region. It keeps them playing the game as long as they’re competitive at that level.”
Looking ahead, Provenzano said the club is seriously considering adding import players to both squads.
“I think that’s going to be a key for us in the next year or two to make sure we take advantage of having imports,” he said. “Most teams have three, we have four because we’re considered a border city. We’re going to try and take advantage of that, whether it’s from the US or overseas.”
Provenzano said the team will always rely on local athletes to form their core.
“We still want to stay local — we’re not disappointed with the team at all — we’re just going through some growing pains. We want to get some younger locals to come up and fill some spots as well but the key positions could be those import players.”
Adding imports means the club will have to work harder at securing corporate sponsorships.
“The budgets are pretty high and for it to be competitive, our budgets have to be higher as well,” Provenzano.
As well, the club has added a scoreboard this season and is hoping to add more stands next season.
“We’re looking at a lot of things and opportunities,” he said. “Add layers every year. It all takes money and we’re going to go hard for sponsorship for next season starting shortly and see how we can increase our budget.”
Roma made a big splash last season when they introduced a sponsorship area of seating to go along with an exciting game-day experience.
“We had great feedback,” Provenzano said. “The club has contributed that and made it a real good game day for us. Working with the club has taken us beyond a level we could imagine. Everything is here — food, drinks — the sponsors area is important. We’ve had other teams come and tell us how great this is. Officials tell me they want to come here and ref because the atmosphere and experience has been unbelievable for them. That’s good to hear from outside.”
The Wolves took on the Simcoe County Rovers in a doubleheader Friday at home.
The women’s team tied 2-2 as Sabrina Bisante and Arianna Zumpano scored while the men’s team dropped a 1-0 decision.
The women’s team travel to Peterborough to take on Electric City Wednesday while the men’s team visit Burlington Sunday.
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