After being kept off the pitch for 18 months, the Orillia Inter men’s soccer club recently played its first game on a Friday night under the lights at the West Orillia Sports Complex.
The Inter were on the winning side of the match-up with the Alliston Arsenal, winning 4-1. This past Friday night, the Inter made it two in a row with a 4-2 victory over Alliston United.
Manager Sean Molnar says being back on the pitch feels like a victory.
“Usually we start in April, but we weren’t allowed to get onto the field until (a few) weeks ago,” he explained.
“It’s a start we aren’t used to as usually, we have a good month of training before the season starts. But we are just happy to be back out at this point.”
The Inter, who play under the banner of the Orillia & District Soccer Club, are competing in the Huronia District Soccer League this season. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Inter finished fourth in the Ontario Soccer League (OSL), which is one division below semi-pro.
“Everyone is super pumped to be back out for the first time since 2019, but we aren’t as strong as we were with not playing for a year,” Molnar said.
“It was the longest a lot of our guys didn’t play soccer for in 25 years. It’s pretty crazy that COVID had that impact on us.”
The Inter are now trying to get back up to speed in time to compete for the Frank Docherty Cup.
“The biggest thing for us, players in our league, and sports in general, is getting back to game speed and how we are used to playing,” Molnar said
“We want to get back to being the strong team that we were at the end of 2019, and that will jump-start us for 2022 when we return to the OSL.”
Molnar says that once this year’s Inter team reaches its full potential their ceiling is limitless.
“We are confident that we can win the cup this year. We think we have a really strong team who is capable of being one of the best teams in the province,” he said.
“We still have that core group of guys who come out every year, and we also have some new guys that have recently moved to the area or back to the area after completing college and university.”
The Inter are still in the process of recruiting players to help position the team for a deep playoff run.
“When kids turn 18 and they can’t play minor soccer anymore, we are the next step locally for them to continue playing. We would love to have local players try out for the team and continue playing the game we love,” Molnar said.
Prospective players can contact him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Inter have four home games left on the regular-season schedule. Their next home game will be Friday, Aug. 27 at 9 p.m. at the West Orillia Sports Complex. Spectators are asked to practise social distancing at the field.