The London Gryphons' almost two-week break from the W-League women's soccer schedule was just what the team needed.
When the Gryphons take to the field tonight against the Cleveland Internationals at North London Soccer Stadium, coach Aaron Lauterbach will get a pretty good idea of whether it did any good.
"With components coming in as the season started, we haven't had much chance to get a lot of training in," Lauterbach said. "As soon as the Italian girls came in they played right away. We didn't have a chance to work them into whatever systems we instilled into the team this year.
"The last couple of weeks have really given us an opportunity to get the team working together and comfortable with each other's game. We've pushed the fitness side. The college players come in at the end of May and we didn't have a chance to push the fitness envelop so we've cranked that up another notch."
Lauterbach said the break was needed and his team got a lot of work in. With a league schedule that's condensed and packed into a couple of months, any significant break, especially early in the season to organize and improve a team, is much appreciated.
"Hopefully it shows."
The break also afforded Lauterbach an opportunity to thoroughly assess his players. In their last game before the break, the Gryphons were beaten 4-1 in their home opener by the Chicago Gaels, running their record to 1-2.
"We got a pretty good idea in that game who was ready for this level and who wasn't," Lauterbach said. "We have some younger players we brought up that we wanted to see at this level and we found out relatively quickly who's ready and who's not."
The Gryphons have added one player to their lineup, Oakville native Carleigh Martin who is entering her freshman year at University of Louisiana/Lafayette. The Gryphons already have two players from that school.
"She came highly recommended and she's a quality left-footed player with a lot of pace. Those players are not easy to find," Lauterbach said.
He's pleased with how well the Gryphons Italian imports have played. Fabiana Costi and Veronica Brutti have played with the Italian national under-19 team. But one of the adjustments women players from European countries have to face is adjusting to the more physical style of play in North America.
"We practise like we play so they are adjusting well to the style," Lauterbach said. "We were really restricted in what we knew about them. We saw some game tape. But now we have a better feel of where their abilities are, where they fit in in relation to the team. I'm very happy with both of them. I think they're going to fit in well with the team."
The Gryphons next two games are vital. Both of them are at home before they play the next four on the road. Game time tonight is 7 p.m.