Coach Sandra Moretuzzo of the St. Thomas More Knights is excited about her team’s chances of challenging for a Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association senior boys’ high school soccer championship this season.
And much of that optimism centres around one of More’s rookies – Grade 9 midfielder Ryan Raposo.
Playing in the HWCAA league opener on Tuesday (April 22), Raposo scored the goal that lifted the Knights to a 1-0 victory over the visiting St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves.
“Ryan is phenomenal,” Moretuzzo said. “He’s smart, skilled, fast and has a knowledge of the game. The things that he does off the ball are just as important as the things he does when he has the ball. He can make runs that bring a defender out to make space for someone new to come in.
“Ryan is definitely a senior-calibre player. Being in Grade 9, he makes a huge impact on our team.”
Last month Raposo attended a Canada Soccer Identification Camp in Vaughan. It was one of three Under-15 talent evaluation sessions held nation-wide (the others were in Burnaby, B.C., and Montreal).
The Burlington Bayhawks standout was selected the Burlington Youth Soccer Club’s Male Player of the Year in 2013. He also plays for Team Ontario.
With the Knights, Ryan lines up alongside his brother, Lucas, who is four years older.
“I like having (Lucas) on my team,” said Raposo. “He supports me on and off the field with my soccer.”
The goal the Knights scored was of the unusual variety. Raposo was on his own side of midfield when he launched what was intended to be a through ball to a teammate. Instead, it wound up in the net.
“The wind was with me,” Raposo said. “I saw my teammate (striker Derek Steenbeek) calling for the ball, so I just played it in the air. I didn’t really see what happened because that’s how far away I was.”
Moretuzzo said contact in the box may have caused some miscommunication between Brebeuf’s goalie and one of their defenders.
Eric Griffin picked up the shutout with some help from a teammate who, in the late stages, was there to stop a rolling ball as it was about to cross the goal line.
“I thought we played fairly well for our first league game,” Moretuzzo said. “It looks promising. We have a young team with a lot of potential. I’m excited about what’s to come.”
The girls’ half of the doubleheader at More saw the Knights and Braves battle to a scoreless tie. Although neither team could find the net, a total of five shots bounced off the crossbar. The Braves had more scoring opportunities overall and keeper Alora Fortino was particularly impressive for the Knights.
On Monday, the lone senior girls’ game saw the St. Mary Crusaders blank the Bishop Ryan Celtics, 2-0.