Selects score big in debut

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

Call Game 1 of the great Canadian Professional Soccer League women's experiment a success.

At least in London.

If there is one way to advance the sport of soccer, it's to have as much as possible, all ages, both genders.

That's why it was great news that the CPSL finally found the get-up-off-your-butt energy to establish a women's division. The hope is that next year it will be stronger, more organized and find an even greater level of support.

On Monday, the London City Selects played their first division game against the Windsor Border Stars at Cove Road field. The Selects dominated the first half but trailed 1-0. The second half was played in monsoon-like conditions. When it was over, the Selects had a 6-1 win and left the impression they're a mighty fine team.

Unlike men's soccer in general, which is often devoid of enough action to keep fans satisfied, this women's game provided many scoring opportunities and a pleasing style of play. The differences between the men's and women's game are obvious, with most occurring because of the differences in the strength and size of the players. But there's no lack of entertainment value in the women's game.

Granted, the Border Stars aren't the strongest team but the Selects' depth was indicative of the pool of women's talent on this team and in this region.

Selects coach Tonino Commisso had to wait a while in Game 1 for his team to fill the net but when the goals started they came as fast as the rain.

The verdict after Game 1?

"It's exhilarating, actually," Commisso said. "It was exciting to see everything come together, especially at the end. I was happy to see that we are as good as I thought we would be. You can gauge your team to see how good you think they are going to be but you can't really tell until you see them play in a serious game."

He got an eyeful. His team is deep in talent, especially in the midfield, the creative positions. It's those positions that are lacking at the men's level. It's why the men's program continues to stumble along.

There are few creative midfielders who make chances for the strikers and are able to win balls in the middle. Top-quality midfielders also have the talent to score. Successful teams all have outstanding players in the midfield.

"It was nice to see that whoever we brought in from the bench was a good player," said Commisso. "Whoever we put in was as good as their starting lineup. We probably have five or six solid centre midfielders."

Commisso named Kate Painter, a particularly effective midfielder, and stopper Kristin Brandao as players who really stood out. They were only two on a long list of players who stood out, including the best Canadian university women's player, Eva Havaris.

Commisso was also impressed by how well his team came together.

"I was surprised by the teamwork and how they all seemed to really care about each other. There was no inner competitiveness. Even the players on the bench were just happy for the players on the field.

"Sometimes with the men, there's a little bit of competitiveness. But I don't think anyone was sitting on the bench saying, 'I'm better than (the players on the field.)' "

Combine that with great talent and it's a project on the road to success.


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