Exeter, Olympic enter Cup

KATHY RUMLESKI -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

London AEK Olympic and the Exeter Centennials, who play in the Western Ontario Soccer League\'s Premier Division, have put $595 on the table for a chance to win $10,000.

They\'ve entered the Canadian Professional Soccer League\'s new open Canada Cup for a shot at the big money.

For the first time, the cup is open to any senior professional or amateur men\'s team in Ontario. It was also open to Quebec teams, but none applied. All teams must use their registered players. The format is a one-game knockout, with the winner taking all.

\"Our whole team is very excited this year. We have a way better team than last year,\" Olympic manager Tom Kouzounas said. \"I think we can do really well.\"

Olympic, which finished third in the Premier Division last year, will play Woodbridge Azzurri -- the 2000 Ontario Cup champions -- May 16 at Cove Road field at 8:30 p.m.

\"I know they\'re a very good team,\" Kouzounas said of Woodbridge. But, he said, what will really help his squad is being able to play at home. \"They have to travel on a Friday night.\"

Olympic has been training four times a week for the last three months.

Because there are two London-area teams in the competition, CPSL officials decided to hold the preliminary round at the Cove. Games will also be played Saturday, Sunday and Monday of the May long weekend.

The Exeter Centennials, who finished second in the WOSL\'s First Division to earn promotion to the Premier, will play Toronto GS United, winners of the provincial division of the Ontario Soccer League last season, May 19.

Exeter was supposed to play Erin Mills, but that team dropped out for fear some of their players seeking U.S. scholarships may jeopardize their chances by participating in a professional cup.

The Centennials recently won the Premier indoor championship at the Forest City Sports Dome.

\"We took it as a challenge. It\'s not that we have great aspirations of going very far with it, but it\'s an experience,\" said Exeter manager John Rasenberg.

Exeter is a community with a lot of soccer fans and Rasenberg hopes many will come to watch the game.

\"We\'ve always been a good driving force to bring soccer to the forefront.\"

In the other games at Cove Road, Kanata Soccer Club and Toronto Benfica meet May 17 and Toronto Peniche plays Real Toronto May 18. The 13 CPSL clubs in the CPSL received a bye in the preliminary round and will be seeded for first-round action over the July long weekend.

\"Certainly we didn\'t get the response we expected,\" said league administrator Stan Adamson. \"It takes a couple of years to get things rolling.\"

The CPSL regular season begins in late May with London City opening at Cove Road May 30 against the Durham Flames.

The league is down one team as the York Region Shooters merged with the Vaughan Sun Devils.


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