A 1-0 win over the North Toronto Nitros clinched first place in the Central Girls Soccer League (CGSL) Level 4 Premier standings, earning the local squad a promotion to the Level 3 ranks next year.
In the end, the Sudbury crew did not give themselves a great deal of breathing room in besting a North Toronto side that currently boasts a winless record, with 12 straight losses to date.
The Impact pinned the Nitros for much of the game, but were unable to solve the visitor's keeper until well into the second half. Brianne Rodrigue converted with a one-touch off a corner kick in the 69th minute, providing the margin of difference as Sudbury keepers Megan Coutu and Oliviah Hamilton shared the shutout.
The victory means the Impact girls finished the season at 10-2-2, good for 32 points and a nine-point lead over Ajax FC Red. Having swept Ajax by scores of 7-2 and 6-2 in their head-to-head matchups, the potential tie-breaker favours the Northern Ontario squad.
"We had to make sure not to take (North Toronto) for granted," Hamilton said. "We had to come out with the same mentality as we did against Unionville."
A first-place finish was likely the last thing on anyone's mind as the team returned from their opening weekend of league play at the end of May with just a single point.
A 2-2 draw with the Scarborough Blizzard was followed by a 1-0 loss to the Oshawa Kicks. But the huge victory over Ajax, on the road, just two weeks later, seemed to quickly turn the season around.
From that point on, the only contests in which the Impact did not take three points were a 1-1 tie with Scarborough and a 1-0 loss to Unionville.
"The girls showed tremendous character this season, battling injury, travel, and adversity to secure their position as league champions," head coach Dayna Corelli said. "The girls have represented Sudbury extremely well across Ontario, receiving recognition and praise from other coaches for their skill and style of play."
The well-documented background on this team was an interesting one, bringing together former rival factions from the Sudbury Canadians, Valley East Soccer Club and Panhellenic to form one very impressive local representative.
"This shows the effectiveness of the one-club system, as under three separate entities, we never would have achieved this success," Corelli said.
Sacrifices were needed as players shifted positions. A product of the Valley East system, Alicia Beaudry moved from the midfield, assuming the role of a defender with the Impact.
"We had practices devoted to certain positions and that really helped a lot," Beaudry said. "I feel more comfortable now moving up with the ball, making good passes."
While each of the three former teams had their own individual coaching staffs assembled, the Impact opted to move in a different direction, allowing the tandem of Corelli and Renee Jacques, both still with the Lady Vees program at Laurentian, to cut their teeth in the coaching ranks with the young crew.
It has quickly become evident that the pair have earned the respect of their troops.
"(Corelli) has had really good coaches in the past," Beaudry said. "She takes stuff from the LU practices and brings it to us. She's really dedicated and works really hard."
Surrendering a grand total of just two goals in their final six leagues games, the Impact were backstopped by the duo of Hamilton and Coutu, the last line of defence behind a very impressive grouping.
A defender in her years of playing all-star soccer, Hamilton launched herself full force into one of the toughest positions on the pitch when she hooked up with the Impact.
"It was something I wanted to get into because I had played as a supply goalie in house league," she said. "I didn't actually think there was much technique to being a goalie until I came on this team. Then we had a goalie trainer come out and he taught us a lot."
Truth be told, the entire team has learned a lot, moving from a middle of the pack squad in 2011 to the top of the heap just one year later. And the progress won't stop there.
"Looking to next year, we know Level 3 will have much stiffer competition and we will look to strengthen our team however possible over the winter months," Corelli said.
The work begins anew for a group of young ladies who have already accomplished a great deal.