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St. Albert's semi-pro soccer teams start season strong

“We definitely want to put ourselves in a position where we're playing for that championship — that'd be a long term goal for us for sure,” said the head coach of the St. Albert Impact women's team, Dean Cordeiro.

St. Albert's men's and women's semi-professional soccer teams have found some early season success, with both teams coming into the 2024 season looking to avoid a repeat of last year, when each lost in the league finals.

The teams, both called the Impact, play in League1 Alberta, considered the highest level of club soccer below the professional level offered in the province. The 2024 season is technically the first official season in league history as 2023 was limited to an exhibition series that worked as a test-run of how the league would function.

The Impact women went undefeated through their first three games of the season, and have lost just one of their five games so far.

The season got underway on May 10 with the Impact women beating Calgary Foothills WFC 3-1. 

Lauren Dluzewski, Samantha Bouchard, and Raeghan McCarthy all scored in the first half before the team played lockdown defence in the second half to secure the win. 

On May 14 the Impact women shut out the Edmonton Scottish United women's team 3-0. Bouchard scored again, while Samantha Gouveia and Brenna Paquin scored their first goals of the season. Goaltender Carly Uchacz earned the shutout.

Then on May 24 the Impact poured on the offence to beat the Alberta Soccer Association's High Performance club 6-2. McCarthy scored two goals in seven minutes to get the team going, followed by another marker by Dluzewski. McCarthy then scored again on a penalty kick before teammate Lauren Granberg netted another goal just two minutes later.

Bouchard got her third goal in three games in the dying minutes to close out the match.

On May 31 the Impact women and their dependable offensive game were stymied by Callies United in Calgary as Callies earned a 3-0 win. Callies player Kendall Showers lead her team by scoring twice.

The Impact then took on the Edmonton BTB Women on June 4, which was a defensive showcase until the dying minutes of the match.

Both teams struggled to produce any scoring chances through the first 70 minutes before Granberg got the Impact on the board in the 77th minute to take a 1-0 lead. Janai Martens of Grande Prairie, Alberta, then scored again for the Impact in the 84th minute, securing the team's fourth victory.

Dean Cordeiro, the returning head coach of the Impact women's team and long-time head coach of the MacEwan University Griffins women's team, told the Gazette that the club is really pleased with how the season has played out so far.

“We're really happy with our start,” he said. “Going [4-1] is always good to separate ourselves at the top of the table.”

Cordeiro said the women's club didn't have too much roster turnover from last year, something that he thinks will help the team play consistently in 2024.

“We don't want to look too far down the road because a lot can happen between now and then, but obviously we have big expectations within the club in St. Albert,” he said. “We definitely want to put ourselves in a position where we're playing for that championship — that'd be a long term goal for us for sure.”

“Currently, we're just trying to take it game by game and make sure we're putting our best foot forward in those contests.”

The Impact men started their season the exact same way as the women: beating Calgary Foothills FC 3-1 on May 10.

Peter Jones, Ousman Maheshe, and Evan Houle all found the back of the net to beat Foothills FC.

The Impact men lost their next game, falling to Edmonton Scottish United 3-1 on May 14. Impact player Ruben Mirando got the team on the board early with a goal in the fifth minute of the game, but that was the only offence the team could muster.

On May 24 the Impact were able to get back in the win column when they beat Cavalry FC's U21 team 4-1. Maheshe scored twice while Shameiks McLeod and Choosen Jones each got their first goals of the year.

The Impact men managed to get the best of Callies United mens team on May 31 as the Impact picked up a gritty 2-1 victory on the road in Calgary in a game that featured eight yellow cards being handed out.

Callies United kept the Impact off the scoreboard until former FC Edmonton forward Prince Amanda scored for St. Albert in the 64th minute. Just eight minutes later Maheshe scored his fourth goal in four games to give the Impact the lead, and eventually the win.

Although the Impact women managed to finish their June 4 game against Edmonton BTB, the men's game was postponed due to poor weather.

The Gazette was unable to reach the Impact men's head coach Lucas Karebi.

Both Impact teams will head to Calgary for their next games on June 7, with both teams taking on the Calgary Blizzard.

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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