Wolves looking for playoff spot
Club Roma men’s coach Federico Turriziani. Photo: BILL POTRECZ
The St. Catharines Club Roma Wolves men’s team have set the bar high this season.
The Wolves placed 16th out of 22 teams in League1Ontario last year and are looking to move up and finish in the top 12 and gain a playoff spot this summer.
“If I had a crystal ball I would tell you we would win the league, but at the same time, realistically speaking, we’re going to try to fight for the playoffs,” Roma director of soccer operations Carmine Provenzano said. “That’s why we tried to build this team like this.”
The Wolves will start six points in arrears based on last season’s 5-11-5 record.
“It’s tying to maximize the points this year because next year the league gets divided into Premier, Championship and League2,” he said. “All points this season count 100 per cent. Last year was worth 75 per cent.
“It’s going to be crazy.”
The Wolves have undergone a significant turnover with 11 players returning on the 25-man final roster and Provenzano admits the final cuts were difficult.
“We had some tough conversations and some of the kids played for us last year,” he said. “When you grow an attachment to a player it’s like your son or your brother. I know they don’t feel that way when we let them go but it’s hard for us to stand there and tell a kid face to face he didn’t make the team.
“It’s very competitive. Nobody is given a spot. You have to earn it.”
Provenzano feels the competition for roster spots time is a plus.
“It can only help us. Age has a lot to do with it. A younger player helps us with league mandates as far as player minutes is concerned. We have to play younger players (2003 and younger) 2,000 minutes,” he said. “It’s something for the young players to develop. You have to look at that. It’s not all talent.”
Among the newcomers, Provenzano singled out Matteo Fraccasini, a 22-year-old right-back from Italy.
“He’s going to help the team for sure and a couple of other players (we signed) from the GTA. Guys that are excited to come here and play and those are the guys we want,” he said. “We’d love for Niagara kids to be here at this level but League1 is different. It’s a level some kids aren’t used to playing. It’s hard. It’s a level you have to be ready for.”
This years squad is more experienced, which Provenzano feels will be a huge plus.
“It was getting a little more soccer mature. Some of the players we are bringing in are older players that bring some maturity and we didn’t have that last year,” he said. “I think in the course of games, you’re young and panic. You get scored on and your head is down for the rest of the game. These guys are bringing that positivity. You can see it in training. The are absolutely positive all of the time. They’ve been through the wars.”
The identity of the Wolves remains to be seen.
“Every team in the league looks for a top scorer,” Provenzano said. “We have (Niagara Falls native) Michael Soloman. He’s here and healthy and we’re looking forward to him and seeing him perform,” Provenzano said. “Overall, I think we’ll be a little more defensive. That’s something we have to do and more midfield play for us and hope to control the ball more.”
The Wolves are set in goal with Carson Provenzano, back from a training stint with a professional team in Italy.
The Wolves begin the regular season Saturday when they visit Alliance United before hosting London FC Sunday, April 23 at 7 p.m. at Kiwanis Field.
“Nervous? Never. Excited? Yes,” Roma head coach Federico Turriziani said. “We have a lot of stuff to do. We have a lot of new players and that means we need more to work together to become a team. Maybe we need more practice to be ready but this week we will work every night.”
Turriziani is eager to see how the season unfolds.
“It’s a challenge, that’s why I love the sport,” he said. “Every year is different. Sometimes teams that on paper aren’t the best can do something amazing. There are a lot of examples around the world.”
Turriziani feels the team will be more potent on offence this season.
“We scored a very poor number of goals so we’re going to implement at lot on top,” he said. “I think we are good on top and now we have to work on team organization, balancing the engagement between the group.”
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