For the full week leading into her team's Sunday matchup with the Unionville-Milliken Strikers, Sudbury Impact U-15 girls head coach Dayna Corelli was on edge.
Faced with a glorious opportunity to accomplish something no local team had recently achieved, but challenged with a roster that was trying to overcome countless bumps and bruises, Corelli nervously anticipated the showdown at the James Jerome Sports Complex.
Turns out there was little need for concern. The first-place Impact girls absolutely swamped the visitors through the opening 45 minutes, bolting to a 4-0 lead, and avenged an earlier 1-0 loss to UMSC with a 4-1 win.
Coupled with a forfeited victory over Markham on Saturday, the locals are now just one win shy of clinching first place in the CGSL U-15 Level 4 Premier grouping — a feat that would earn the team a promotion to the Level 3 ranks for 2013.
Given that the squad closes out their 2012 campaign at home against the winless North Toronto Nitros, it was easy to see why Corelli and company placed such importance on this battle with the Strikers.
"The girls have been waiting for this match-up since we faced them in early July," Corelli noted. "As Unionville was one of the only teams mathematically able to catch us, this game was about taking fate into our own hands to keep us in first and, more importantly, in promotion territory."
Little was left to chance. Sudbury grabbed the lead just 30 seconds into the game, with Brenna MacMillan finding the mark, and the Impact never looked back.
Mere minutes later, Brianne Rodrigue received credit for an own goal off a corner kick, somewhat ironic considering the Strikers' only goal in their 1-0 win came off the foot of a Sudbury defender.
A highlight reel goal by Riley McEwen provided a three-goal advantage, as the Lockerby product outraced the Unionville keeper, lurching towards the ball at the last second to slip it just under the netminder and into the open net.
Dana Isaia made it 4-0 before the half and Sudbury keepers Megan Coutu and Oliviah Hamilton made it stand, with both young ladies making key saves when needed.
"Brianne Rodrigue was outstanding in the midfield, controlling much of the play and creating waves of attack," Corelli noted. "I am very proud of the way the girls approached this game and executed the game plan on the field."
The victory improved Sudbury's record to 9-2-2 — nine full points ahead of the Scarborough Blizzard (5-1-5). The Impact will enter its final league contest riding a six-game winning streak, while North Toronto have lost nine straight.
That said, the local girls edged North Toronto 1-0 in their one and only head-to-head encounter this year. Given the motivation to become the first GSSC team to earn a promotion from Level 4 Premier to Level 3 by capturing first place in their division, Corelli's troops should be able to avoid an untimely letdown.
Sudbury and North Toronto will meet on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the James Jerome Sports Complex.