Every year before the start of the season, Will Devellis sits down with his soccer team and hands them a pencil and piece of paper. He did the same with his Barrie Soccer Club under-13 girls team this year, asking them to write down what they believe should be the team’s top three goals heading into the season.
“I can say, with some consistency, every single one of the 15 girls had winning the Ontario championship as one of their goals,” said the head coach.
Devellis and his club can achieve that goal by defeating Caledon in the Ontario Cup finals on Sept. 15, at the Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan.
It marks the second straight year Devellis has taken a Barrie team to the Ontario Cup Finals. Last season, he guided the under-14 (2003 birthdate) team to the Barrie Soccer Club’s first provincial girls title.
The (2003) team bowed out in the under-15 provincial semi-finals this season, but their success hasn’t gone unnoticed by their younger club mates.
“Because the younger girls know I coached that team as well, they’ve really looked up to the older girls as mentors and are really looking to duplicate what they have done,” Devellis said. “It’s been one of their goals and they’re now at the step they can try and achieve it, so we’re looking forward to it.”
The under-13 girls advanced to the provincial final with a convincing 5-0 win over Woolwich in the semifinals and will now be looking to put the crown on what has been an impressive summer.
Barrie cruised to a Huronia District League title with a 13-0 record, outscoring their competition by a dominating 114-4.
With the majority of the girls having played together for some four or five years, consistency has certainly helped them achieve their success in this their first year of competitive soccer (under-9 to under-12 don’t keep standings), but Devellis admits there’s something special about this group.
“They’re just a group of girls that wear their heart on their sleeve every time they step on the pitch,” he said. “They’re working as hard as they possibly can. In addition to the fact that they’re at a high level of technical ability, they move the ball about very nicely and keep possession of the ball and have a very potent offence as well. From the goalkeeper all the way to our strikers we’re a very well-rounded team. Just a bunch of hard workers that will give it their all every time they step on the field.”
Olivia Gardiner has been a rock in net, while defenders Jane Cooke, Alyssia Devellis, Zoey McIntyre, Olivia Raimondi and Ava Clemente battle for every ball.
“Our defensive line is hard as nails and will get into any tackle,” Devellis said. “They sacrifice their bodies to defend as best as they can.”
Central to Barrie’s attack is a midfield loaded with depth. They include Vanessa Mafra, Montelene Dymond, Rachel Hastings, Sofia Tomei, Sofia Lopez and Ella Pragnell.
“We have a very attack-minded midfield with technical ability to move the ball about,” Devellis boasted.
Up front, strikers Alexandra Pino, Olivia Maher and Ava Bydal lead a potent attack that averaged nearly nine goals a game in Huronia play.
“As far as our strikers go, we’ve got probably two or three of the best strikers in the Huronia District,” he added.
Barrie has had a couple of weeks to prepare for Caledon, but they are far from an unfamiliar foe. Back in February, Barrie lost 4-0 to Caledon in an indoor tournament at Stoney Creek. The two teams met again in July in the semifinals of the Robbie International Tournament held in Scarborough. Caledon came up on top once again, winning 3-1, but Devellis thought his club played a great game, especially considering they had to play back-to-back games in 45-degree heat, while Caledon had six hours between games to rest before facing Barrie.
“I think with a little more of a break there, the score line would have been a little more indicative of the game,” the head coach said. “Nonetheless, I think it was a great motivator for the girls to be able to show that we’ve made strides against them. Obviously we’ve got (time) here before the finals to really prepare and be ready for them.”
There’s no shortage of motivation and Barrie is anxious to get another shot with everything on the line this time.
“A hundred per cent,” said Devellis. “Absolutely.”
He’s proud of what the girls have accomplished this season and hopes they’ll have plenty of support on the sidelines when they take to the field in Vaughan for the 12:30 p.m. kickoff.
Photo: The Barrie Under-13 girls soccer team is aiming to become just the second Barrie Soccer Club girls squad to win a provincial title. Barrie Soccer Club photo