The Opdenkelder Landscapes and Design U14 Orillia Lightning soccer team beat previously undefeated North Bay Lakers twice this week to move into first place in the Huronia District Soccer League standings.
The Lightning improved to 9-2 on the season after two gutsy performances against the Lakers who had only given up two goals on the season before playing the Lightning.
Orillia hosted North Bay on Tuesday and won by a score of 2-0. The team played their best full game of the season as they maintained their positions, committed to defence and transitioned quickly and effectively to offence to seal the victory. Ava Cassar and William Shaw scored for the Lightning. Ryder Huffman earned the shut-out.
On Sunday the Lightning travelled to North Bay for a pair of back to back games. These were the first games played on artificial turf played by the Lightning. Orillia started slowly in the first game against the U13 North Bay Lakers.
Orillia fell behind 1-0 early as they struggled with the lively bounces and quick pace of the artificial turf. Orillia shook off the cobwebs from the trip up to North Bay and rallied in the second half as they found their groove. A couple of key points in the game were quick transitions by Julian White and Lachlan Sharpe that led to goals by Perjan Soltani. Aidan Granulo added the insurance marker late in the game to seal the 3-1 victory.
The Lightning only had 25 minutes to hydrate, rest and snack before the kick-off of their second game of the week against the first placed U14 Lakers.
The Lightning started strong and took an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Perjan Soltani. Ryder Huffman made four or five key saves in the first half to help Orillia maintain the lead despite the relentless pressure of the Lakers.
Liam Rose added to the Lightning lead by using his speed to blow past the North Bay defence after receiving a well placed clearing pass from Lightning defender Mason Bard. The Lightning played some of their best soccer of the season in the first half and went into the break with a well deserved 2-0 lead.
The Lightning fought hard in the second half as fatigue from an afternoon of intense action in the afternoon sun started to wear on everyone. Aidan Granulo continued to frustrate the North Bay attack as he continued to make the many key defensive stops that he has been making all season.
The back line of Granulo, Bard, Gabe Mennen and Christian Moraru as well as keeper Huffman were busy for most of the second half. Midfielders Julian White, Jacob Hazel, Evan King, Ava Cassar, George Locker, William Shaw, Lachlan Sharpe and Lukas Palaro supported the defensive line and were able to move the ball up field to Soltani and Rose at key times to relieve some of the pressure of the North Bay attack.
North Bay was able to score late in the game but it was not enough as the Lightning came out on top 2-1. All players should be proud of their efforts not only against North Bay but all season.
The wins over North Bay vaulted the Opdenkelder Landscapes and Design Lightning into first place with 27 points with only three games left in the season. Lightning striker Perjan Soltani extended his league lead in the scoring race by a remarkable 14 goals as he scored goals 24, 25 and 26 on Sunday.
Ryder Huffman leads the league in shut-outs with an amazing five shut-outs in just 11 games.