Lions win 2016 MSA Provincial Cup for 9th Time

August 26, 2016

FC Winnipeg Lions win 2016 Manitoba Cup provincial title

With report from Eric MacLise (

FC Winnipeg Lions won the 2016 Manitoba Cup men's championship, their fourth provincial title in five years. In a Manitoba Cup final that pitted two former national champions, FC Winnipeg Lions captured the honours 4-2 on kicks from the penalty mark following a 2:2 a.e.t. draw with Hellas SC. FC Winnipeg Lions now return to the Sport Chek National Championships for the first time since 2014.

The Lions had all but wrapped up the championship match when Hellas SC equalised on a Genio Cisternino shot in the 90th minute, sending the final into extra time. Hellas SC then hit the crossbar in extra time on a shot by Elom Akpalo. With no winner after 120 minutes, FC Winnipeg Lions went perfect on kicks from the penalty mark and goalkeeper Sean Golden made the difference with a pair of saves.

"The team has really come a long way this year," said Tony Nocita, Head Coach of FC Winnipeg Lions. "We have a very deep roster and a very good group of players, so it was just a matter of us being consistent. We worked hard all season and we have been very consistent in the league play and in the Manitoba Cup."

From the start of the match, FC Winnipeg Lions were the stronger side through 20 minutes, but then trailed after Hellas SC opened the scoring in the 26th minute. Cheick Diallo scored on the scramble after a Genio Cisternino free kick.

FC Winnipeg Lions then equalised in the 36th minute, with Brendan Rattai scoring from outside the box after an Anthony Lourenco pass. In the second half, Lions forward A.J. Naumiuk made it 2-1 on a penalty kick in the 67th minute.

"We were ready for this match and what it was going to pose for us. They are a really good team and they gave us a real good battle tonight. We could have scored a couple of goals early, but it just didn't work that way. We stuck with it and in the end we came away with it."

In the provincial final, FC Winnipeg Lions' starting XI featured Sean Golden in goal, Dan Keith at right back, Adam Hajkowski and Andrew Aitken at centre back, Domi Antonini at left back, and Matt Appler, Moreno Alberti, Hugo Figueiredo, Anthony Lourenco, A.J. Naumiuk, and Brendan Rattai from the midfield up through to the attack. Coach Tony Nocita featured Zachary Harrison and Go Kumagai as substitutes. From the bench, Braeden Hidalgo-Mazzei, Valeriy Kornilov, Tevin Olivier-Job, Jordon Smith, and Krzysztof Szulc all dressed but did not feature.

The 26 August provincial final was played in front of approximately 1,000 fans at the Ralph Cantafio Sports Complex in Winnipeg. This marked FC Winnipeg Lions' ninth provincial title over the last 22 years, having previously won in 1995, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2013, and 2014. The club won the national title men's Challenge Trophy in 2002 (at the time the club was known as Sons of Italy).

Canada Soccer’s Sport Chek National Championships run 5-10 October 2016, with the adult amateur competitions hosted this year in St. John’s, Newfoundland Labrador. At all age levels, the Sport Check National Championships provide a meaningful soccer experience for host cities and participating teams, as well as the players, coaches, support staff, officials, and volunteers.

Lions win 2015 MMSL League Championship and 2016 Copper Cup Championship in Phoenix Arizona

February 15, 2016

The Lions concluded the 2015 outdoor soccer season winning the Clubs 3rd consecutive MMSL League Championship title.  

The Lions completed the 2015 outdoor league season with 16 wins, 1 loss, and 1 tie.  The team outscored its opponents by 71 goals (86 goals for and 15 goals against) in the 18 game regular season.

The Lions kick started 2016 participating in the Copper Cup tournament in Phoenix, Arizona.  It was the second year the Lions have participated in the Copper Cup Tournament.  In 2015, the Lions first appearance in the Copper Cup, the Lions lost in the Copper Cup championship final by a 2-1 score.  

On January 18, 2016, the Lions fate would be different with the Lions capturing their first ever Copper Cup championship with a 2-1 win over El Salto-Phoenix in the tournament final.  The Lions completed the Copper Cup tournament with 3 wins, 0 losses and 2 ties.

The Lions will now prepare for the 2016 outdoor season, which will begin in May 2016.  The Lions will play two friendly matches against the PDL's Thunder Bay Chill on May 28 and 29, 2016, in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Free Kicks:  The Lions have won 9 MMSL League Championships since the league was formed in 2002.  The Lions have appeared in 11 Manitoba Soccer Association Cup Finals, winning the MSA Cup on 8 occasions.  Lion's players voted Adam Hajkowski with the winner of the Chic Devenney Players' Player Award.  It was Adam's second time being honoured with the award, joining former Lions Players Steve Sawatzky and Frank Buoncore as the only two time winners of this annual team award.  

Lions look to repeat as bronze medal winners ar nationals

October 12, 2014



Ontario’s London Marconi became the first team to advance to the Challenge Trophy gold medal match after defeating Manitoba’s FC Winnipeg Lions 1:0.

It was a hard fought, physical semi-final. At this stage in the competition teams are going into their fourth match in five days and, as muscles tire, the winner is often the team that wants it more.

“It’s all mental at this points,” says Marconi midfielder Tyler Hemming. “I told the guys before the match, ‘we need to be mentally tough.’ Because physically, everybody is hurting and, really, at this level, the teams [in terms of conditioning] are equal, so if we can stay mentally stronger than anybody else we should be able to win.”

Marconi certainly showed hustle, pressuring Manitoba’s back line and closing down space along the wings. Striker Taso Bujouves looked particularly dangerous and nearly gave his team the lead, in the 22nd minute, after breaking in alone on Lion’s keeper Steve Sawatzky, who did well to get low and block the shot with his body.

“I give them credit,” says Lions coach Tony Nocita, “they pressed us well and when that happens you have to rely on getting through the first line of pressure – that’s the key to opening things up – but, there were moments in the game where we just needed to make a good decision but didn’t. And [as a result] we gave up possession, which, at times, left us chasing the game.”

Nevertheless, Manitoba proved a difficult team to break down. And only conceded a goal, half way through the match, after Hemming turned and smashed a ball towards net, “hoping someone would get on the end of it.”

That someone was Bujouves, who having run into the box, jabbed at the ball with his left foot. “It was kind of lucky, so if you’re going to report this, say it was a beautiful touch, pure finesse, you know, make it a sweet story, because the truth is I kind of just ran into it.”

While Manitoba would make a late flurry, in the dying minutes, the 1:0 score line would hold. And for the second year in a row, the Lions find themselves in the bronze medal match instead of the gold. “It’s tough,” says Nocita, “to get this far and fall short. But hats off to London, they played well.”

Tomorrow both teams are back in action. Starting with Manitoba vs Saskatchewan for the bronze at 11:00 ET / 08:00 PT. While Ontario’s Marconi will face Alberta’s Calgary Callies at 12:00 ET / 09:00 PT in the gold medal match, which will be streamed live at

Today’s results
FC Winnipeg Lions (MB) 0-1 London Marconi (ON)
P.E.I FC (PE) 7-1 Yellowknife FC (NT)
Dartmouth United Golden Goal (NS) 1-3 Royal Sélect Beauport (QC)
Calgary Callies (AB) 0-0 a.e.t (4-2 on kicks) HUSA Alumni Saskatoon (SK)
Vaughan Azzurri (ON) 0:4 Croatia SC (BC)

Challenge Trophy: As group play come to a close - goalkeepers shine

October 10, 2014



On day three of the Sport Chek National Club Championships, Manitoba’s FC Winnipeg Lions took on Alberta’s Calgary Callies. On the line was first place in Group C, as well as regional bragging rights.

Considering how well these teams know each other, this match could easily be called a derby. It had all the elements: tough tackles, near misses and plenty of emotions … as well as the requisite cards that follow. And with little separating the two sides penalties would be required to crown FC Winnipeg Lions the victors: 0:0 a.e.t / 3:2 on kicks.

“We knew it was going to be a tough, tough match, says Winnipeg’s Head Coach Tony Nocita. “We’ve played Alberta before … they know us, and we know them, so I’m not surprised by the way it went down. “

Callies Head Coach Dave Morrow agrees. “It was two good sides going at it. While I thought we had the better chances, we were evenly matched. Unfortunately [for us], it went to penalty kicks…so it is what it is. And with no disrespect to the other teams, it could easily have been a final.”

It was a game in need of a hero and none stood taller than Manitoba’s goalkeeper Steve Sawatzky. While he wasn’t called-upon often, he made a series of crucial saves. None more important than the one in the 46th minute, when he slide across his net, extending his arm above his head, to prevent what should have been a simple tap in for Alberta.

“Steve is just fantastic,” says Nocita. He’s a real calming influence and today, no doubt, he was the difference.” Sawatzky was equally impressive during the penalty shoot-out, stopping three of the first four shots to secure the victory.

As Group C winners, Winnipeg will now face runners-up in Group B, New Brunswick, while Alberta will play Group B winners British Columbia. Both matches will take place tomorrow.

Live coverage of the men’s semi-final and final of the Challenge Trophy will be streamed on Sunday 12 October and Monday 13 October, at

Today’s results
Croatia SC, BC, 4:0 Dartmouth United Golden Goal, NS,
FC Winnipeg Lions, MB, 0:0 a.e.t. Calgary Callies, AB / FC Winnipeg Lions wins 3:2 on kicks
HUSA Alumni Saskatoon, SK, 1:0 Royal-Sélect Beauport, QC, 
London Marconi, ON, 3:1 P.E.I FC, PE

Lions Capture 3rd Consecutive MSA Cup Championship

July 19, 2014


FC Winnipeg Lions captured the club's 8th MSA Cup Championship and 3rd consecutive MSA Cup Championship (2012, 2013, and 2014) with a 3-1 victory over Winnipeg Juventus.

After an early Juventus goal in the 7th minute of the game and a key diving save late in the first half by Lions goalkeeper Steve Sawatzky which kept the margin at one, the Lions trailed 1-0 at halftime.

Both the Lions and Juventus traded opportunities early in the second half, with goal line clearances by both clubs helping maintain the 1-0 Juventus lead. 

The score remained 1-0 for Juventus until the games 71st minute when Lions substitue AJ Naumiuk, who missed 6 weeks of play due to injury, returned to the lineup and scored the equalizer.  

Moments later, Lions midfielder Dominic Antonini scored in the 72nd minute on an impressive strike which would end up being the game winner, giving the Lions the 2-1 lead.  

In the final minutes of the second half, Lions striker Brendan Rattai secured the Lions victory closing the scoring in the game with a goal in the 83rd minute, making the score 3-1 Lions.

Lions midfielder David McPhail was named the games MVP.

Corner Kicks:  The Lions will represent Manitoba at the Canadian Soccer Association's Challenge Cup in Toronto, Ontario, from October 8-13, 2014.  The Lions captured the Bronze Medal at the Challenge Cup in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2013.  



Lions Support KidSport Manitoba

July 14, 2014

F.C. Winnipeg Lions support KidSport Manitoba in spirit of the World Cup this past June July.  The Lions donated $250 of the proceeds raised from their 2014 World Cup Pool,"so ALL kids can play."  A special thank you goes out to all the participants who made this years World Cup Pool a success.


Lions capture Bronze in Halifax

October 14, 2013

The FC Winnipeg Lions returned from Halifax with a third piece of hardware in a memorable 2013 season, bringing home bronze from the national championship.  

The Lions captured the bronze medal after beating the Saskatchewan's HUSA Alumni 2-1 in double overtime at the senior Canadian Challenge Trophy club national tournament in Nova Scotia.

The Lions' leading goal scorer in the tournament was AJ Naumiuk with 3 goals including 2 game winners.  Naumiuk scored the overtime winner in the 110th minute in the bronze medal match. Earlier in the tournament, the Lions dropped a tight 1-0 semifinal game to Ontario's Gloucester Celtic, who went on to win their club's first ever Challenge Trophy gold medal.

The bronze medal capped off a season that saw the Lions go undefeated in Manitoba With a 21-0-0 record capturing the MMSL Premier Division 1 League Championship and the Club's second consecutive MSA Cup Championship.

The Lions now have 3 national tournament medals in the Clubs 18 year history including 2 Bronze Medals won in 1996 and 2013 and 1 Gold Medal won in 2002.  The Lions have won 7 MSA Cup's in Club history to go along with 8 league championship titles in the past 13 years.  






The Perfect Season...FC Winnipeg Lions 2013 Double Crown Champions

The FC Winnipeg Lions are the 2013 double crown champions for Senior Men's soccer in Manitoba.  

The Lions finished the 2013 outdoor regular season and MSA Cup with a combined record of 21-0-0, capturing the MSA Cup Championship and the MMSL Premier Division One Championship. 

The FC Winnipeg Lions capped off their 2013 regular season schedule on September 6, 2013 with a 4-1 victory over Hellas.  The win completed a memorable MMSL Premier Division One regular season in which the Lions had a perfect 16-0-0 record.  

On July 20, 2013, the Lions defeated Lucania 4-0 in the MSA Cup Final capturing the Lions second consecutive MSA Cup title. The Lions completed the MSA Cup tournament with a perfect 5-0-0 record.   It was the Lions fourth consecutive MSA Cup Final finish.  

Moreno Alberti led the Lions with 13 goals.  Second in scoring for the Lions was the Club's rookie striker, Brendan Rattai with 10 goals.

With discipline, a balanced-attack and strong defensive play, the Lions have outscored their opponents in their 21 matches by a combined total of 83-10.

Since the Club's inception in 1995, the Lions have captured 7 MSA Cup Championships.  At CSA nationals the Lions have captured 1 national title and 1 bronze medal.  The Lions have won 7 MMSL Premier Division One championships in the MMSL's 11-year history.

The Lions will participate at CSA Nationals in Halifax, Nova Scotia, competing for the Challenge Trophy from October 9-14, 2013.

The Lions open the tournament on October 9th versus Prince Edward Island, followed by an October 10th match versus British Columbia.


Remembering someone special, our Manager, Joe Kostek

It is with profound sadness that we learned of the passing of Joe Kostek, this past Sunday, May 23, 2010.

Joe was a wonderful man who loved his family so much. He always spoke of his his wonderful wife, his children, and his grandchildren with such great love and enthusiasm.

All of us with the Sons of Italy Lions and Polonia prior to the Sons of Italy years, were all very fortunate to be a part of Joe's life. We were truly a part of his extended family.

Joe's attention to detail and his non-compromising will for perfection, will never be replaced. Water bottles were never filled with washroom tap water. Joe always wanted his players to have only the freshest of water for games. Jerseys were always ironed, socks were always unstained. Joe was meticulous in ensuring his players looked the best. Our players were so very important to Joe.

Winning was important to Joe, but he also wanted each of our players to grow and mature as individuals. He wanted each of his players to be successful in life. He wanted only the very best for all of us.

We can only continue to work as hard as possible to respect the legacy left behind by Joe. He demonstrated the meaning of loyalty. He showed us how to remain loyal and committed to a common goal. Joe did everything in his power to help us be a better team.

One of our Lions players, Justin Parry said it well last night, when he said that many of the players on our team were Lions because of Joe, and we have stuck together because of this bond that he created.

Another Lions player, Steve Sawatzky, who was with Joe back in the Polonia days said, "Joe was certainly one of a kind. It's unfortunate some of the newer players on our team didn't get to meet him or know him. Joe had such passion for every aspect of the team and the game. I'll never forget how happy he was when we won the National Championships in 2002. He bear hugged me and said "Stevos, we did it!".

Lions captain Andrew Aitken, said of his first experiences with Joe over ten years ago, "he was one of the first people that I met that represented the Sons of Italy Soccer Club, he taught us about being a professional in all aspects of life and presenting yourself with honour, pride, and giving your best effort at all times". Andrew mentioned that he still remembered the day Joe he gave him the number 3 jersey for the first time. Andrew described how Joe took the jersey from the blue suitcase, neatly folded and he said "this is your shirt Andy, take care of it".

He was Molson Joe to many of us and we will miss the intense conversations we all had with him. Those intense sports debates always included soccer, Blue Bombers, and Raptors discussions which Joe was always so passionate about.

We will miss the road trips with Joe, where his suitcase would be packed full of polish sausage, and Joe would welcome us all to his room for polish tea.

Those of us with the Sons of Italy Lions will continue to honour Joe Kostek's memory by our future actions on and off the field. We will do everything to keep the standard Joe set as high as possible.

Joe will be sadly missed, but our everlasting memory of Joe Kostek will be of a man who loved his family, as a manager second to none, and a true friend to us all.

Prayers will take place on Thursday, May 27, 2010, at 7:00 PM, at Cropo Funeral Chapel.

Funeral services will take place on Friday, May 28, 2010, at 10:00 AM, at the Holy Ghost Roman Catholic Church.

Jozef Kostek - Obituary Winnipeg Free Press

Lions to play 4 Exhibition PDL Matches in 2010

The Sons of Italy Lions are pleased to confirm 4 exhibition games with PDL Clubs for the 2010 season.

We will be playing the PDL 2008 Champion Thunder Bay Chill, the Des Moines Menace Reserves and Rochester Thunder members of the Heartland Division of the PDL.

2010 Lions Exhibition Game Schedule:

Saturday, May 29 vs. Thunder Bay Chill 7:30 p.m. (EST) in Thunder Bay, ON

Sunday, May 30 vs. Thunder Bay Chill 1:00 p.m. (EST) in Thunder Bay, ON

Saturday, June 19 vs. Des Moines Menace Reserves 1:00 p.m.(Central) in Fort Dodge, Iowa

Sunday, June 20 vs. Rochester Thunder 1:00 p.m. (Central) in Rochester, MN

Lions Announce 2009 Outdoor Roster

May 2, 2009
The Sons of Italy Lions will take to the field in 2009 with a roster that will see 14 returning players and 5 new additions to the Club.

The new additions to SOI include veteran midfielder/defender Rob Gale, who tallied 6 goals for Lucania in 2008. Gale has been a member of several MSA Cup Champions with Lucania Soccer Club.

The Lions have also addressed the teams forward position by the additions of Antonio Valdovinos, who scored 17 times for Maples Juventus in 2008. Ken Sacramento, formerly of Lusitania who scored 11 goals in 2008, and also led Lusitania to 2 consecutive MSA Cup Finals. The Lions are excited to announce the addition of the 2008 1st division leading goal scorer, AJ Naumiuk, who scored 36 goals in 2008 for Germania, and added 1 goal in his only appearance with Sons of Italy in 2008. Valdovinos notched 35 goals and Naumiuk also added 19 goals for Sons of Italy during the recently completed 2008-2009 indoor season.

The final newcomer in 2009 is midfield/defender Joseph Passi this collegiate soccer player, played the 2008 outdoor season with Edmonton's Ital-Canadians Soccer Club.

The Lions are excited about the return of our core group of players that led the club to the 2007 MSA Cup and League title, and will look to an exciting 2009 outdoor campaign, led by head coach, Tony Nocita.

Lions 2008-2009 Indoor League and Playoff Champions

April 26, 2009
The Sons of Italy Lions captured the Canlan Indoor Soccer Championship.

The Lions completed an undefeated indoor regular season with a record of 18 wins and 2 ties, capturing the regular season championship.

The Lions followed up the regular season crown with 2 playoff victories, including today's 4-1 victory in the playoff Championship match.

The Lions overall winter record included 20 wins, 0 losses, 2 ties, with 160 goals and 58 goals against.

The final saw the Lions come out strong leading 2-0 at the half. The game was 4-0, when Lions goalkeeper Jonathon Sturby, whose performance in the final was stellar, saw his shutout broken with just over a minute remaining in the match.

Corner Kicks: The league's leading goal scorer was Lions striker, Antonio Valdovinos with 35 goals. Lions midfielder Go Kumagai led the team with a 14 game consecutive point streak. Lions goalkeeper Jonathon Sturby led the league with 16 wins.

Lions to play 4 Exhibition PDL Matches in 2009

January 21, 2009
The Sons of Italy Lions are pleased to confirm 4 exhibition games with PDL Clubs for the 2009 season.

We will be playing the PDL 2008 Champion Thunder Bay Chill, the Des Moines Menace members of the Heartland Division of the PDL, and the Minnesota Thunder's new PDL franchise, the Rochester Thunder.

2009 Lions PDL Exhibition Schedule:

Saturday, May 23 vs. Thunder Bay Chill 7:30 p.m. (EST) in Thunder Bay, ON

Sunday, May 24 vs. Thunder Bay Chill 1:00 p.m. (EST) in Thunder Bay, ON

Saturday, June 6 vs. Des Moines Menace 7:30 p.m.(Central) in Des Moines, Iowa

Sunday, June 7 vs. Rochester Thunder 1:00 p.m. (Central) in Rochester, MN

The 1992 Winnipeg Fury (1992 CSL Mita Cup Champions) vs. AC Italia (2008 Western Masters Bronze Medal Winners)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

1 PM Kick-Off

University of Manitoba Indoor Soccer Complex

On Saturday, November 8th at 1 PM, at the new University of Manitoba Indoor Soccer Complex, the team members of the 1992 Canadian Soccer League Mita Cup Champion and 2008 Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame inductees of the Winnipeg Fury will take to the field in their first match together since defeating the 4 time champion Vancouver 86’ers in 1992.

Local members of the 1992 Fury included Sons of Italy's Tony Nocita, former Lucania players Marcello Paolucci and John Berti, and current South End United coach Constantin Ignat. Joining them will be former National Team members Carlo Corazzin, Paul Fenwick, Ian Carter, former Canadian Olympic Team members Mike Dodd, Kevin Holness, and former CSL All-Star Defender Peter Sarantopoulos. The Fury lineup will also include John Gasparic, Brett Pence, goalkeeper Kent Kowalski, and team Captain and the game winning goal scorer in the championship final, Steve Millar.

The team staff will include former Fury Head Coach Tom McManus, current South End United Coach and former Fury General Manager Laurie McIvor, current Sons of Italy co-manager and former Fury Assistant General Manager Gerald Olin, current Ital-Inter President and former Fury Chairman and founder Ralph Cantafio. The medical staff will include former Fury Medical Doctor Mike Mackay and former Fury Athletic Therapist Mary Turner.

Come see the Mita Cup trophy, which is being donated to the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame prior to the start of the match.

Come out and enjoy the action as the Winnipeg Fury take to the field one last time!

Lions capture inaugural CBC Cup

May 10, 2008
The Lions kicked off the 2008 season with two shootout victories resulting in the Lions capturing the inaugural CBC Cup.

The Manitoba Soccer Association partnered with CBC Manitoba for the “CBC Soccer Day in Manitoba” celebration. Along with several youth and women's teams. Last year's top four finishing men's Premier Division Teams from the MMSL participated in the event. Sons of Italy along with Lucania, Lusitania, and Hellas represented the MMSL.

In the opening game today, Sons of Italy and Hellas took the field under cool and windy conditions. After falling behind 1-0 in the second half, Lions midfielder Frank Buoncore equalized the match. Goalkeepers Steve Sawatzky and Jonathon Sturby shared the netminding duties in the match. It was Sturby who got the call in the shootout. He came up big along with the Lions shooters. The Lions won the shootout and advanced to the afternoon final.

The Lions opponent in the final was Lusitania. The two 2007 MSA Cup final opponents would play under similar weather conditions as the morning matches. Lusitania advanced to the final with a shootout victory over Lucania, after they battled to a 1-1 regulation tie.

The Lions opened the scoring in the second half on a goal by Domi Antonini. The Lions hit the post on 4 occasions, but were finally rewarded with the 1-0 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the match. Moments later, Lusitania striker Herbie Blackwood equalized the match.

Both Sawatzky and Sturby split the goalkeeper duties in the final. Sturby found himself tending the net in the second straight shootout finish of the day. He would stop Lusitania's first and fifth shots of the shootout giving the Lions a 4-3 shootout victory.

Corner Kicks: Lions midfielder Jorge Aguirre returned to the lineup after graduating from Dalhousie University. Aguirre was a member of the 2002 Sons of Italy Lions National Championship team. The Lions were without sweeper Tony Nocita, and captain Andrew Aitken, all of whom were participating in the Kelowna Open Golf Tournament. Steve Sawatzky was 2-0 as player coach on the day. Also absent were midfielder/defenders Matt Johnson and Nevin deKorompay. Lions striker Nolly Sanchez was absent as he and his wife are celebrating the new arrival of their new baby girl. The Lions will open the MMSL regular season on Thursday, May 15, 2008,at 7:00 PM, at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex, versus the Blue Blazers. The Lions will travel to Thunder Bay to take on the Thunder Bay Chill in Thunder Bay on Saturday, May 31st and Sunday, June 1st. The Chill were the 2007 PDL Heartland Division Regular Season Champions.

Lions to play the USL's Minnesota Thunder

May 29, 2008
The Lions will face the United Soccer League's Minnesota Thunder on June 21, 2008 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The match will be the third meeting between the two clubs. In 2007, the Lions battled the Thunder to a 2-2 draw in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The 2007 match was preceded by a 2003 defeat at the hands of the Thunder in a match played in Duluth, Minnesota.

Buoncore Honoured by Teammates

December 22, 2007
The 2007 Sons of Italy Players' Player Award was awarded to Frank Buoncore.

This award is chosen by the Sons of Italy players, for a teammate, in recognition of exemplary personal commitment, team spirit, and fine play for the Sons of Italy Soccer Club:

Winners of this award now include:

2007 Frank Buoncore
2006 Tony Nocita
2005 Steve Sawatzky
2004 Justin Parry
2003 Andrew Aitkin
2002 Steve Rebizant

Moreno Alberti CIS Soccer Men's Rookie of the Year

November 10, 2007
Sons of Italy Lions striker Moreno Alberti was named CIS Soccer Men's rookie of the year on October 7, 2007 in Vancouver. Alberti who is currently playing in his first year at York University was rewarded by voters for his strong play in his first year of CIS soccer.

Alberti and his teammates on the York Lions, will face UBC this evening, with the winner advancing to the CIS National Championship game tomorrow in Vancouver.

Two Lions Advance to CIS Finals

November 5, 2007
Two members of the Sons of Italy Lions 2007 MSA Cup Championship squad , have added a second provincial trophy to their personal trophy case. Both Domi Antonini and Moreno Alberti in their first season with the York University Lions have won the Ontario University Athletics Championship.

The York Lions University men’s soccer team beat the Western Mustangs 3-2 in penalty kicks in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) men’s championship game in Ottawa on Sunday, winning their first OUA provincial championship since 1977.

As provincial champions, the York Lions team has secured a coveted berth in the 2007 CIS finals on Sunday, Nov. 11.

The 2007 CIS men’s soccer champions will be crowned at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. There will be a sudden-death quarter-final games on Thursday, Nov. 8, in a match that will feature the York Lions Univerity soccer team (14-1-2) versus the Atlantic runner-up Saint Mary’s Huskies (9-2-4) at 7:30 pm. The championship will be decided three days later.

Congatulations to Moreno and Domi and good luck in Vancouver.

Tony Nocita Honoured by Manitoba Soccer Association

October 20, 2007
Sons of Italy Lions defender Tony Nocita was honoured today by the Manitoba Soccer Association. Nocita was awarded the FRANK CAPASSO AWARD for OUTSTANDING SENIOR MALE PLAYER.

The Award is presented to an active senior male player who has served as a team leader, demonstrated outstanding abilities and contributed to significant achievements by his team at either the provincial, national or international level.

Nocita was capped internationally when he played with the Canadian National Team, and was a former professional player in the Canadian Soccer League and the American Professional Soccer League, where he played with the Winnipeg Fury (1987-1990,1992-1993), Hamilton Steelers (1991), and Toronto Rockets (1994). In 1991, Nocita's Hamilton Steeler's team were defeated by the Vancouver 86'ers in the Mita Cup final. However, in 1992, Nocita's Winnipeg Fury, defeated Vancouver in the Canadian Soccer League's final Mita Cup Championship match. It was in that Final that Nocita scored the memorable game winner at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex in the 1st game of the 2 game final. Nocita would later along with his Fury teammates and team staff, be inducted into the Order of The Buffalo Hunt by the Premier of Manitoba.

In 2002, Nocita along with his Sons of Italy Lions teammates captured the Canadian Soccer Association's Amateur Championship, the Challenge Cup in Newfoundland.

Nocita was inducted in the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.

In 2006, Sons of Italy Lions players voted Nocita as the 2006 winner of the club's Chic Devenney Players' Player Award. This award was established in a means for the Sons of Italy players, to honour their teammate, in recognition of his exemplary personal commitment, team spirit, and fine play for the Sons of Italy Soccer Club.

Nocita is the second Sons of Italy Lions player to receive this MSA Award, as Sons of Italy goalkeeper Steve Sawatzky was awarded the Frank Capasso Award of Merit as the 2002 Outstanding Senior Male Athlete of the year.

Nocita was a member of a Lions team in 2007, who captured their 5th league division championship in 7 years. The 2007 Lions also captured the MSA Cup. It was the Lions 5th MSA Cup Championship in the Club's 12th year of existence. During those 12 years the Lions have captured 1 National Gold Medal Championship, and have also had 1 Bronze Medal finish.

Top dogs in MSA semis

August 16, 2007

This year's version of the MSA Cup has not been very friendly to the underdogs.

The top dogs in the Premier Division have kicked around the guys in the lower divisions, setting up a hotly contested final four that will be played out tonight at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex.

In the first semifinal at 6:30 p.m., the Sons of Italy Lions S.C. will take on Hellas S.C., while the other semi pits Ital-Inter S.C. against F.C. Lusitania at 8:30 p.m.. All the teams are in the Premier Division of the Manitoba Major Soccer League and Sons of Italy, Hellas and Lusitania are one, two and three in league standings respectively.

"So far we're pleased with the way the season has gone," Sons of Italy manager Gerald Olin said of his club that is undefeated this season with 10 wins and three ties in the league games.

"The team has been playing well as of late and the Cup has gone as we're hoped. We know we have a very difficult and tough game ahead of us."


In their only previous meeting this season, Sons of Italy and Hellas battled to a 0-0 draw, while Lusitania has blanked Ital-Inter 3-0 this summer.

"I think that ultimately the teams that are in the final four are very, very strong teams," Olin said. "Obviously people will argue who are the top teams. There is a good group here in the final four and I would anticipate a lot closer games in this second to last round."

The quarter-finals were anything by close. Sons of Italy hammered Winnipeg Croatia 6-0 and Hellas shut out Grant Mill Sword 5-0. Lusitania and Ital-Inter also blanked their opponents.

Sons of Italy have allowed just seven goals in 13 league games this season and have scored a league-high 37 markers.

"We're a pretty balanced team," Olin assessed. "Overall, we've played very well defensively. As of late, we've shown that we've been able to put the ball in the net with more consistency. From the back right up to the front we feel pretty confident in the group."

"We're continuing to improve, so we're pleased with that. We don't feel we've plateaued at this point."

Lions to Work with Local Italian Youth

June 22, 2007
The Sons of Italy Lions Soccer Club and its players, on behalf of the local Sons of Italy Garibaldi Lodge, are pleased to announce our participation in a soccer camp to take place at the Centro Caboto Centre.

The date of the camp is Monday, July 16, from 1:00 PM - 3:30 PM.

Sons of Italy players and staff will work on soccer skills with children attending the Dante Alighieri Summer Camp at the Italian Centre. The program is being offered as part of the children's enrollment in the summer camp.

Sons of Italy Co-Manager, Gerald Olin states, "These are the types of programs we enjoy. It is a chance to give back to the local community. We believe that these children will very much enjoy the camp and the Lions spirit for the game."

Lions player, Tony Nocita states, "This is an excellent opportunity to reach our local Italian youth in a positive and constructive manner." Nocita further added, "Our club appreciates the support we receive from the Sons of Italy Garibaldi Lodge, and in return, this is our opportunity to represent them, when we work with our local youth at special events such as this."

Lions Golf Tournament Sets Record

May 28, 2007
The Sons of Italy hosted our sixth annual Golf Tournament on Monday, May 28th, 2007, at the Kingswood Golf Country Club.

A total of 144 golfers enjoyed a wonderful lunch and dinner during the event. The winning team for this year's event was the team of Rob Friesen, Carey Chartier, Paul Kuzina, and Tyler Rice. The foursome came out swinging and retained their 2006 Championship crown.

Half of the the proceeds raised from this years event were donated to the Children's Wish Foundation.

Thank you once again to all participants. We look forward to seeing each of you again in 2008.

A special thank you once again goes out to all our supporters in making this annual event the largest and most successful golfing event in Lions history.

Major Exhibition Game Announced...Lions Excited for Upcoming Outdoor Season

March 18, 2007
The Sons of Italy Lions are pleased to announce two exhibition matches for the upcoming 2007 outdoor season.

The defending 2006 Manitoba Major Soccer League Premier League and Playoff Champions, Sons of Italy Lions will be participating in an exhibition match on Saturday, July 7, 2007, versus the Minnesota Thunder of the United Soccer League (United States Professional League - Division one), at 8:00 p.m. The match versus the Thunder will take place at Burnsville High School, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and will be the feature match kicking off the weekend soccer festival in Burnsville.

Sons of Italy veteran defender Tony Nocita, who played the Minnesota Thunder as a member of the Winnipeg Fury in 1992 and in 2003 as a member of the Sons of Italy Lions. Nocita stated, "We are always pleased when we are given the opportunity to give our players the chance to take their game to a higher level." Nocita continued, "We continue to remember that games such as these do not replace the importance of the MMSL regular season, or the MSA Cup, but instead act as opportunities for our players to participate against new opponents in new environments."

Nocita further added, "We believe that these types of matches benefit the development of our players and can help our soccer club in reaching higher levels of overall growth and success."

With few roster changes anticipated for the upcoming 2007 MMSL season, the Lions hope to maintain team continuity and to build on last years successful 15 win and 1 loss regular season, followed by the club's 2007 playoff championship title.

Sons of Italy Victorious in MMSL Playoff Final

September 26, 2006
The Sons of Italy Lions scored early in the match on this cool fall evening and ended the night as MMSL Premier Division Playoff Champions.

Justin Legare scored first for the Lions finishing on a beautiful effort to lift the Lions to a 1-0. Lucania tied the match prior to the end of the half. With the score tied 1-1, Lions striker and MMSL Premier Division goal scoring champion Nolly Sanchez scored the winner lifting the Lions to the 2-1 victory. Both Franklin Hernandez and Steve Sawatzky shared the goaltending duties in the final match.

The Lions were victorious in three out of the clubs four matches versus Lucania during the 2006 season. The Lions lone defeat to Lucania was during the MSA Cup Semi-Final, a 2-1 loss.

The Lions completed the 2006 MMSL season as MMSL Premier Division Champions with a 15 win and 1 loss regular season, and as MMSL Premier Division Playoff Champions. The regular season Premier Division Championship was the Lions fourth division title in six years.

The Lions will now begin efforts to prepare for the 2007 outdoor season.

Thank you to all of our players, club staff, supporters, and club sponsors for the level of commitment and dedication shown towards our organization during the 2006 outdoor season.

Lions 2006 MMSL Premier Division League Champions

August 30, 2006
The Sons of Italy Lions have won their third MMSL Premier Division League Championship in four years. The club clinched the league title with its 14th victory of the season, and currently has an overall league record of 14 wins and 1 defeat.

With the Lions league championship in the final season of the Manitoba Super Soccer Alliance in 2001, the Lions have now won four of the past six Premier Division League Championships in Manitoba.

After completing the final regular season match on Wednesday, September 6th, at 6:30 PM, versus Lucania, at the Winnipeg soccer Complex, the Lions will begin the MMSL playoffs on Monday, September 18th, at 6:30 PM, versus the winner of the 4th versus 5th place match, at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex.

The Lions will be heading to Thunder Bay for their annual Invitational Tournament during the September long weekend. The Lions will be looking to defend their two consecutive tournament championship wins in 2004 and 2005. This year's tournament will include four Manitoba entries, three Minneapolis entries, and five Thunder Bay clubs.

The Chic Devenney Players' Player Award

January 25, 2007
The 2006 Sons of Italy Lions players have voted and congratulations goes out to Tony Nocita on being voted the 2006 winner of the Chic Devenney Players' Player Award.

This award was established in a means for the Sons of Italy players, to honour their teammate, in recognition of his exemplary personal commitment, team spirit, and fine play for the Sons of Italy Soccer Club.

Previous winners include:

2003 Andrew Aitkin
2004 Justin Parry
2005 Steve Sawatzky
2006 Tony Nocita

Lions, Chill, and Mother Nature display Lightning Attacks

May 28, 2006
The Lions met the Chill in the second match of the exhibition series on Sunday afternoon. The game ended with a 4-4 tie. The Lions came out strong in the first half and were rewarded with a 20th minute goal headed in by Nolly Sanchez. Minutes later the Lions saw a free kick by Andrew Aitken hit the post keeping the score 1-0. The game was then delayed for 20 minutes due to lightning and thunder. After the brief delay, the Chill came out strong and equalized the match with a 45th minute goal. The Second half saw both teams open up, with the Chill taking a 3-1 lead. The Lions Justin Legare narrowed the margin to within one, when he finished off a through ball played in nicely by Anthony Tummillo. The Chill came back moments later on a beautiful free kick re-establishing their two goal lead. With under fifteen minutes remaining in the match, the Lions Moreno Alberti scored an impressive goal, turning the defending Chill player and striking a low shot from 20 yards out. With minutes remaining, Adam Hajkowksi equalized the match on a tremendous effort to make the score 4-4. The game ended with a last second opportunity by the Chill, which just missed. The weekend series saw the two clubs play to a 1-1 tie and 4-4 tie. The Lions are now undefeated in their three matches played with the Chill, improving their record to one win, no losses, and two ties.

Lions tie Chill in Exhibition Opener

May 27, 2006
The Lions faced the Thunder Bay Chill of the PDL at Chapples Park on Saturday night. The Chill opened the scoring on a goal by Guilherme De Souza in the 20th minute. The Lions attacked throughout the match and were rewarded in the 88th minute with a goal by Sanel Mehdin. Game two of the series will take place on Sunday at 2 PM.

Lions to Face Chill in Thunder Bay

January 17, 2006
The Sons of Italy Lions are pleased to announce that the club will be heading to Thunder Bay to face the Thunder Bay Chill in a two game sanctioned exhibition series.

The games will take place on Saturday, May 27th at 7:30 PM, and Sunday, May 28th at 2:00 PM.

Rules for the weekend will see both matches being played with 90 minute games. In the event of a tie at the end of regulation time, two fifteen minute overtimes will be played. If overtime fails to determine a winner, penalty shots will be used to decide the match.

The Chill intend to use their May long weekend tournament as a tuneup and a means to solidify their official roster for their 2006 PDL season. The Lions are extremely pleased to accept the Chill offer to participate in the two game event and the Lions look forward to playing the Chill's complete 2006 roster during our two game weekend in Thunder Bay.

The Lions are also planning a return to Thunder Bay in the fall, when the Lions will look to win our third consecutive Thunder Bay Invitational Tournament.

Lions 2006 Indoor League Champions

April 11, 2006
The Sons of Italy Lions are the Soccer Spectrum First Division League Champions for the third time in four years. The club completed the regular season with 14 wins, 3 losses, and 1 tie. The Lions had 110 goals and only 59 goals against, leading the league in both categories.

In a must win situation, with the winner capturing the league title, the Lions came out strong with 7 first half goals, on route to a 10-2 victory over Shenanigans in the final game of the regular season.

The league goal scoring championship went to Sons of Italy forward Moreno Alberti, with his 30 regular season goals. Rounding out the top five in Lions scoring were Richard Krahn with 18 goals, Frank Buoncore with 17 goals, Domi Antonini with 14 goals, and Matt Appler with 10 goals.

Tough Loss for Lions in Finals

January 4, 2006
The Sons of Italy Lions lost 6-5 to The Boys in the Soccer Spectrum Men's Christmas Championship Tournament. The Lions fought back from a 5-3 deficit in the final 7 mintutes of the match. With the score tied 5-5, The Boys scored in the final 20 seconds to earn the hard fought victory.

Sons of Italy defend title

September 6, 2005
The Chronicle-Journal By David Trifunov

Nolly Sanchez scored twice as Winnipeg Sons of Italy defeated Thunder Bay Italia-Juventus 2-1 on Monday at the $8,000 Thunder Bay Invitational soccer tournament at Fort William Stadium.It’s the same trophy that the Manitoba team won last year.“We had a good game,” said Sanchez, a former pro from Guatemala. “It’s amazing how hard the boys worked. It was a great victory.”With the win also comes $4,500 in prize money while Juve collects $1,500.But Thunder Bay teams were shut out of championships after a weekend of play. The Winnipeg Phoenix defeated the Winnipeg Sweat Shack 2-1 after nine rounds of penalty kicks to decide the women’s draw.A total of 13 clubs (five women’s and eight men’s) competed. The Lakehead Express and Thunder Bay Impact both lost in the women’s semifinal stage.Thunder Bay Croatia finished third on the men’s side and collected $600.Sons of Italy’s Frank Brancore was awarded the Murray Slomke Trophy as tournament MVP.But it was Sanchez who had the opposition bewildered all weekend. Sons of Italy coach Larry Ladobruk estimated his star striker scored 10 of the team’s 18 goals. “Nolly was a dominant player,” Ladobruk said, “and teams couldn’t cover him man on man. . . . Once they had to send two guys to defend him, things opened things up for us.”While the opposition opened up for Sanchez, the Sons of Italy defence kept matters closed in the back. Goalie Steve Sawatzky backstopped his club, leaders of the Manitoba first division, to just one goal against in six games.It was much the same story in the final. Italia-Juventus spent much of the first 45 minutes defending, despite the influx of Thunder Bay Chill reinforcements.The local team welcomed seven Chill players into the lineup with Premier Development League experience this season; unfortunately, there was no consistent pressure on the Sons of Italy’s back four.Juve forwards Doco Wesseh and Ron Badanai had one or two scattered chances, but most came from outside the danger area.Sanchez enjoyed much deeper play in the Juve end. He made it 1-0 about 30 minutes into the first half. Sanchez twice blocked clearing attempts by Chill defenders. The final stop came against Juve goalie Stephen Paterson which allowed Sanchez to score into an almost empty net.The lead doubled just three minutes later. Another long pass came drifting into the goal area. Sanchez flicked it with his head behind himself and into the net.But Juventus emerged from the halftime break a more determined club. Attacking runs in the box generated a penalty kick in the 58th minute after Tony Valente was fouled.Wesseh’s effort, however, was stopped by Sawatzky diving low to his right.Juve midfielder Dave Colistro finally broke the extended shutout string in the final minute of play. Adam Augruso earned a penalty call when he was sandwiched by Sawatzky and a Winnipeg defender as the trio chased a loose ball in the area.“We were slow starting all tournament,” Colistro said, “and you can’t do that against a striker like they had (in Sanchez). . . . But we seemed to settle down and tried to push, and push and push. We just weren’t lucky in front of the net.”

Lions win Back to Back Thunder Bay Championships

September 5, 2005
The Sons of Italy Lions have won back to back championships in The Thunder Bay Bay Invitational Tournament . The Lions were repeat winners of this tournament with a 2-1 win over Thunder Bay Juventus.

The Lions overall tournament record included 4 wins over Thunder Bay squads and 2 wins over Winnipeg squads for an overall record of 6 wins and 0 losses. During that 6 game stretch, in which matches are 60 minutes in duration during the first 5 games, the Lions scored 18 goals, while surrendering 1 goal on a penalty kick in the final minute of the final match.

The Lions scorers in the tournament were Nolly Sanchez with 6 goals, Steve Rebizant with 5 goals, Justin Legare with 3 goals, Matt Appler with 2 goals, Tony Nocita with 1 goal, and Adam Hajkowksi with 1 goal.

In the women's final, Winnipeg Phoenix won their first ever Thunder Bay Title with a penalty shot victory over 2005 MSA Cup Champion Winnipeg Sweatshack.

Coach Ladobruk to lead Northern Lights

August 21, 2005
A special congratulations goes out to Lions Head Coach Larry Ladobruk who has accepted the position as Club Head Coach of the Northern Lights Soccer Program. Ladobruk who earlier in the year obtained his CSA National B License, will continue on in his coaching capacity with the Lions.

2005 Lions Golf Tournament a Huge Success

May 30, 2005
The Sons of Italy organization hosted our annual Golf Tournament on Monday, May 30th, 2005, at the Kingswood Golf Country Club.

Over 140 golfers enjoyed a wonderful lunch and dinner during the event. The winning team for this year's event was the team of Rob Friesen, Carey Chartier, Paul Kuzina , and Tyler Rice.

Half of the the proceeds raised from this years event were donated to the Children's Cancer Fund of Manitoba.

Thank you once again to all participants. We look forward to seeing each of you again in 2006.

Congrats to Larry Ladobruk

May 7, 2005
The Sons of Italy Lions organization would like to congratulate Head Coach, Larry Ladobruk, on obtaining his Canadian National B License. We are all very proud of you. Well Done!!

Sons of Italy to hit the Links in May Tournament

The Sons of Italy will be hosting our annual Golf Tournament on Monday, May 30th, 2005, at the Kingswood Golf Course.

This year's tournament will feature over 160 golfers. The event will include a pre-event lunch and post-tournament dinner. The cost for each golfer is $150.00, and with limited spots now available, we would encourage those still interested to contact Ted Nocita at 453-9177 or 782-7541.

Thank you once again to all our supporters, in what will help us make the 2005 tournament the largest and most successful annual golfing event to this point in Lions history.

Lions prepare for 2005 Outdoor Season

March 19, 2005
The Sons of Italy Lions will be heading back to Minneapolis for the club's pre-season training camp. The Lions are pleased to announce that three exhibition games have been schedule from May 20-22, at the National Sports Centre.

The Lions although being grateful for the invitation to participate in the Thunder Bay Chill Invitational, were extremely excited with the opportunity to face two Under-23 Minnesota State Select Squads, and will then cap the weekend off with a match against the Minnesota State Selects, who will be heading for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the following week for their National Championships.

The weekend will be used to prepare the 2005 outdoor squad for the upcoming season, which is expected to begin in May.

Survivor Ethan to attend local youth soccer camp

October 1, 2004
Winnipeg Free Press Amateur Scene by Ashley Prest

THE Manitoba Soccer Association is calling any "soccer survivors" to meet, greet and compete with Ethan Zohn, the Survivor Africa champion who will be in Winnipeg on Oct. 30 to run a one-day youth soccer camp.

Zohn, who became a millionaire two years ago when he was victorious in the third season of the Survivor reality television series, will head up the soccer camp for youths aged 7-15 at Seven Oaks Soccer-Plex and will be the keynote speaker for the MSA annual awards dinner at Canad Inns Polo Park, also Oct. 30. Part of the camp will be a special session for goalkeepers, which is Zohn's position.

"Ethan is a great role model for kids, not only because he's been a professional soccer player and a coach. He won on the Survivor show being himself, he was never deceptive and always sincere," said Dr. Gerald Olin, a Winnipeg chiropractor who is also co-manager of the Sons of Italy senior men's soccer team.

Olin is the Winnipeg connection to Zohn, his best friend at North Western Chiropractic College in Minneapolis was Zohn's older brother Lee. Zohn also came to Winnipeg last year to run a soccer camp.

Hector Vergara, MSA chief administrative officer, said Zohn and several of Manitoba's provincial team coaches will instruct at the camp with the curriculum being set by MSA coach and player development manager Stuart Neely.

Zohn, 30, lives in New York City and has played professionally as a goalkeeper for the Highlanders Football Club in Zimbabwe and in the USA for Cape Cod Crusaders and Hawaii Tsunami. He also played for the 1997 and 2001 U.S. national Maccabiah team and was an assistant soccer coach at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. After his Survivor triumph, Zohn created the international charity "Grassroot Soccer" which sends African professional soccer players into African classrooms to teach children about preventing the spread of HIV. Proceeds from the Winnipeg camp will go to Grassroot Soccer. To register or for more information, call the MSA at 925-5752.

Sons of Italy Win Back to Back MMSL Premier Division Championships

September 17, 2004
The Sons of Italy Lions were victorious in their final MMSL Premier Division league game, and with the 5-0 victory over United Weston, the Lions claimed their second consecutive MMSL Premier Division Championship title.

The Lions completed their 22 game regular season schedule with 20 wins to go with 1 tie and 1 defeat. The Lions were the only Premier Division club to record 20 victories on the season. The championship is the Lions third league title in 4 years.

The Lions were league champions in the final season (2001) of the Manitoba Super Soccer Alliance, and have now added the 2003 and 2004 Manitoba Major Soccer League titles to the team's trophy case.

The Lions also recently won their first ever Thunder Bay Invitational Tournament after two previous attempts which the club had top four finishes.

Lions striker Nolly Sanchez completed the regular season with 32 goals, eclipsing the previous Premier Division record of 29, set by himself last season.

The Lions will now turn their focus to the completion of the league playoffs, and will then head into the winter indoor season later this fall.

Sons of Italy - Win Thunder Bay Invitational

September 6, 2004
The Sons of Italy Lions were winners of the 2004 Thunder Bay Invitational Tournament on the weekend. The Lions finished the tournament with a strong 4-0 victory over Thunder Bay Croatia. The Lions outscored their opponents 15-4 in the club's 5 matches.

The tournament MVP Nolly Sanchez scored 8 goals in the tournament. The Lions were also led by veteran Tony Nocita's 5 goal weekend, in which he scored the winner in the tournament final. Lions midfielder, Frank Buoncore also received accolades for his strong weekend performance.

Free-Kicks: The Lions went into battle this past weekend with the addition of Chris Furtado to the club's roster. Also joining the club in Thunder Bay were youth players Domi Antonini, Matt Appler, Moreno Alberti, and Ian Hunter.

Lions Roar in Final

September 7, 2004
By David Trifunov - The Chronicle-Journal (Thunder Bay)

But Thunder Bay Croatia fell flat in the men’s Division 1 championship. With $4,000 to the winners, Winnipeg’s Sons of Italy emerged with a 4-0 win over Croatia. The women’s second division went to the Dryden Shooters who nipped the Winnipeg Titans 1-0.

A crowd of about 500 converged on Fort William Stadium to watch Croatia carry the Thunder Bay colours into battle. But it was a 27-year-old Guatemalan who stole the show.

Nolly Sanchez scored three times for Sons of Italy, including twice from the penalty spot. Sanchez played professionally in Guatemala for Comunicaciones FC and also represented his country between 1995 and ’98.

He scored seven goals internationally.

“I think our secret was bringing everyone together,” said Sanchez, who was also named tournament MVP. “I think we’re working hard.”

The day was a split decision for coach Rob Pasqualino. He led Impact to victory in the women’s final, but was on the losing end with Croatia. He helps coach Croatia alongside Drago Plasaj, but it was a different story in the men’s game later in the afternoon. Strong winds played havoc with the play.

“To lose like that is definitely disappointing,” he said.

Baranowski and McPhail selected to University Squads

July 12, 2004
The entire Lions organization is pleased to announce that both Eric Baranowski and David McPhail, will join other Lions at the University soccer level.

Baranowski has been named to the Alberta Golden Bears roster, while David McPhail will join Simon Fraser for their fall season. The Golden Bears a long time CIS powerhouse on the Canadian College Soccer scene, and Simon Fraser who participate in a US College program will provide both these players with an opportunity to further their academic careers, while helping to further develop their soccer aspirations.

Both Baranowski and McPhail, will join other Lions such as Nevin deKorompay (Queens) and Jorge Aguirre (Dalhousie) in a battle for college soccer supremacy.

Sons of Italy Dinner Donates Procedes to Canadian Human Rights Museum

March 20, 2004
The Sons of Italy Garibaldi Lodge and the Canadian Italian Business Professional Association celebrated an evening dedicated to the memory of Israel Asper and his vision of a Canadian Museum for Human Rights to be built in Winnipeg.

Special guests including the likes of the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, The Honourable Peter M. Liba, the Premier of Manitoba, The Honourable Gary Doer, the Mayor of the City of Winnipeg, His Worship Mayor Glen Murray, the Treasury Minister of Canada and Manitoba Member of Parliament, The Honourable Reg Alcock, the keynote speaker and Member of Parliament, The Honourable Maurizio Bevilacqua, the Asper Family, and over 830 friends and supporters arrived at The Fairmont Hotel, to celebrate the bridging together of the Italian, Jewish, and Aboriginal communities of Manitoba. Each community joined forces in coming together to express the importance of seeing Dr. Asper's vision come to fruition.

The President of The Sons of Italy, Mr. Reno Molinari, presented Dr. Asper's daughter, Ms. Gail Asper, with a cheque in the amount of $50,000, to be utilized in the fundraising effort for this 270 million dollar project, that was inspired by her father's great vision. The opening date for The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is anticipated for the summer of 2008.

The Sons of Italy Lions Soccer Club were acknowledged during the dinner for their tremendous on and off field success during the past several years. The Soccer Club was also acknowledged for its strong efforts in community and world service, with the successful fundraiser held last summer with former Survivor Africa champion, Ethan Zohn. The Lions and Zohn, combined in the Sons of Italy Survivor Soccer Camp in conjunction with the Phoenix Soccer Club, to help raise awareness for Zohn's charity, Grass Root Soccer. This charity was developed by Zohn and is dedicated to the awareness and prevention of the spread of HIV in the children of Africa.

It was an evening to remember and one which makes us all proud to be a part of the Sons of Italy Lions organization.

Saint James United faces Premier challenge

September 15, 2004
By Ashley Prest of the Winnipeg Free Press

SAINT James United senior men's soccer club is about to step into the lions' den. Saint James will face the Sons of Italy Lions, the 2002 national champion and 2003 Premier Division winner, in the Saint James side's first ever Premier Division match when the Manitoba Major Soccer League opens Wednesday.
The season was scheduled to open today, but was pushed back by the snow.

Coach Frank Roncadin said his Saint James team, promoted along with the first-place Southend Celtics from the MMSL's First Division after finishing in second place last season with a 12-2-4 record, knows this season will be an exciting learning process with lots of room for growth.

"As my dad used to say, there's nothing you can't learn from a good slap in the head," Roncadin said with a laugh. "It might feel that way for us for a while. We're hoping to survive the season first and realistically finish in the middle of the pack. For development, this is going to be outstanding for our players."

The record snowfall that has plagued all sporting events this week caused the MMSL to cancel the Charity Shield Game originally scheduled for today between the Manitoba Soccer Association Cup champion Sokol S.C. (17-1-4) and Sons of Italy (21-0-1).

Brent Boulter, an MMSL vice-president and scheduler, said all league games this weekend have been postponed and will be rescheduled. The 2004 season will open Wednesday, weather permitting. Perseverance

Roncadin's Saint James team is quite a story of perseverance and determination. The team originally started five years ago when the core group of Saint James players turned 18 and needed a place to play. They joined the former Manitoba Central Soccer League but had to come in at the entry level in the fourth division and work their way up. The team has been promoted every year since, except for a two-year stint in First Division when the MCSL and former Super Soccer Alliance merged to form the MMSL.

"It's been a real challenge to keep the guys together as a unit," Roncadin said. "Teams often fade off after trying it out at the higher level or players find a different home. But this is just a really good group of guys. They're committed to staying in the Premier Division and want to work for it."

The core group includes goalkeeper Gino Gilberto, defender Derek Alexander, midfielder Jamie Hemlow and forwards David Kennedy, Alan McMillan and Steve Rampersad.

Sons of Italy have bolstered their lineup with the addition of 2003 MMSL scoring champion Nolly Sanchez and goalkeeper Kevin Krause, who played last season for Sokol. Larry Ladobruk will move into the head coaching duties and will be assisted by veteran Sons defender Tony Nocita.

Most Premier Division games will be played at Vince Leah Community Centre. There are 12 teams in each of the Premier, First, Second, Third and Fourth Divisions, while there are 13 teams in the Fifth Division and 10 in the affiliate Winnipeg Soccer League.

Lions add Sanchez and Krause to 2004 Lineup

March 19, 2004
The Sons of Italy Lions are pleased to welcome and announce that 2003 MMSL scoring champion and former Guatemalan National Team member, Nolly Sanchez, along with former Manitoba Provincial goalkeeper Kevin Krause, have both agreed to join the Lions for the upcoming 2004 outdoor season.

With the addition of Sanchez and Krause, the Lions have filled two positions left vacant with the departures of forward Sean Margison and goalkeeper Sean Sylvestre. Margison will be moving to Alberta this summer, but will be remembered by Lions supporters for his historic overtime winner in the gold medal game at the 2002 Canadian Amateur Championship in Newfoundland. Sylvestre will spend this upcoming season focusing on his duties as head coach of the Division 2 Flames women's soccer club. Sylvestre was also instrumental in the Lions 2002 National Championship season, going undefeated during his two games played during the Challenge Cup tournament. Margison will remain with the club until his departure in the summer. Sylvestre has also agreed to remain a part of the Lions organization and will continue to work with the club throughout the upcoming season.

Sanchez has been a member of two previous Manitoba Cup Championship teams during his three seasons in Manitoba. He arrived in Canada three years ago after leaving Guatemala. Sanchez spent the early portion of his career playing professionally in is home country. In 1999, Sanchez was a member of the Guatemalan Men's National Team. In Krause the Lions have added one of the top young goalies in the country, as Krause led Sokol to the 2003 MSA Cup Championship and a fourth place finish at the 2003 Senior Men's National Championship tournament in Quebec City.

Lions invited to meet NSC United

March 19, 2004
The Sons of Italy Lions are pleased to announce that the club has agreed to a Saturday, July 10th, exhibition match at the National Sports Centre in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with kick-off at 7:35 PM. The Lions will take on the NSC Minnesota United, in the first ever match between the two sides.

Lions set for Training Camp

February 15, 2004
After several months of planning, the Lions are pleased to announce that for the third consecutive season the Sons of Italy Lions will be attending training camp outside the province of Manitoba.

In May of 2004, the Lions will return to Minneapolis, Minnesota for its pre-season tune-up. The Lions participated in a Minnesota training camp during the club's 2002 National championship season, and last year participated in a trio of matches in Calgary, Alberta.

The Lions training camp will include three matches, with opponents ranging from a newly established professional club in Minneapolis to a multiple time senior state championship squad. The Lions will open with a May 21st match versus the Minnesota Blast. The Blast currently plsy in the PASL (Premier Arena Soccer League, US professional indoor soccer league). The Blast have also planned to join the MPSL (Men's Premier Soccer League, a recently formed US based soccer league. The Lions will face the Minnesota Inferno on May 23rd. The Inferno have been multiple time Minnesota State Men's Senior Champions. The Lions will also face the Minneapolis Internationals on May 22nd. The Lions have also agreed in principle to participate in a home and home pair of indoor soccer matches with the Blast next winter.

As in previous seasons, the Lions will continue to provide our players with the opportunity to play high level opponents outside the province. With the ever increasing balance and improvement within Manitoba soccer, the Lions organization acknowledges the need to provide our players with as many opportunities to play high level opponents prior to and during the 2004 outdoor season. The Lions remaining exhibition matches will be announced at a future date.

Andrew Aitken Honoured by Teammates

December 21, 2003
Veteran Lions defender Andrew Aitken was the recipient of the Chic Devenney Sons of Italy Lions Players Player Award.

Aitken was chosen by his teammates to receive this award, recognizing his dedication to the organization and his teammates, with special consideration given for his efforts to continue to practice and play through significant pain during the 2003 outdoor season.

The award was presented by Chic Devenney at the Lions annual player and family christmas party.

Congratulations Andrew on a well deserved honour!!

On Saturday, November 15, 2003, Lions past and present enjoy Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame Dinner with the inductees from soccer, Tony Nocita and Fred Stambrook.

From left to right: Gerald Olin (co-manager), Andrew Aitken (defender), Larry Ladobruk (head coach), Ryan Dyck (midfielder), Tony Nocita (defender and inductee), Joe Kostek (former and long-time Lions manager), Fred Strambrook (inductee), Steve Sawatzky (goalkeeper), Dusan Drazic (friend and supporter), Chic Devenney (director of youth development), Peter Drazic (defender), Walter Dyck (friend and supporter), Justin Parry (defender, absent from photo, present at event)

Tony Nocita is Officially Inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame

November 15, 2003
The entire Sons of Italy Lions would like to congratulate Tony Nocita on his official induction into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

Nocita was inducted with several other players, builders of sport, and teams, in front of a capacity crowd of over 800 guests at the Canad Inns Polo Park. Along with the likes a multiple Stanley Cup Champion winner Ted Green, and five time Olympian and medal winner Susan Auch, Nocita acknowledged the MSA, his friends, and teammates, for their contributions in his success during his career. Nocita was recognized for his Canadian National team appearances, his years with the Winnipeg Fury, including his integral role in the club's 1992 Mita Cup Championship, and his All-Star seasons with the Hamilton Steelers of the CSL, and Toronto Rockets of the A-League. The Hall of Fame also recognized Nocita's participation in the 2002 Sons of Italy Lions National Championship victory.

Congratulations from the entire Lions organization!!

Lions Player Updates

October 22, 2003
The Lions have several players currently playing outside of Manitoba in Canadian University Soccer programs. Both Matt Johnson and Jorge Aguiree are currently having strong seasons with Dalhousie University(Halifax, Nova Scotia), as are Tevin Olivier-Job with the University of Newfoundland(St. John's, Newfoundland, and Nevin de Korompay with Queen's University(Kingston, Ontario). Congratulations to all in your pursuit of academic excellence and CIS soccer glory. You can follow along with how each of their University teams are doing by going to the CIS official website at The Lions would also like to send best wishes to midfielder Frank Buoncore who is currently working out with several youth club's in England.

Free Kicks: Congratulations also goes out to Tony Nocita who is just under one month away from official induction into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame. The official induction ceremony takes place on Saturday, November 15th, 2003, at the Canad Inns Polo Park.

Lions announce 2004 Management Team

October 22, 2004
The Sons of Italy Lions, 2003 MMSL Charity Shield Champions and 2003 MMSL League Regular Season Champions are pleased to announce their management team for the 2004 season.

The Lions are pleased to announce that the club’s Assistant Coach in 2002 Larry Ladobruk will become the club’s Head Coach for the upcoming season in 2004. He will be joined on the coaching staff by Assistant Coach and long-time Lion defender Tony Nocita, who will return to Winnipeg on a full time basis in 2004. Chic Devenney the 2002 MSA Coach of the Year winner, has been named the Head Coach of the Phoenix Soccer Club. Devenney will remain part of the Lion’s management team, taking on the position of Director of Youth Development. Both Bob Cowie and Gerald Olin will remain on as Co-Managers of the Lions. The team's Athletic Therapist will once again be Chris Notley.

Although Chic Devenney has chosen to take on the new challenge as Head Coach of the Phoenix Soccer Club, the Lions are pleased that he has chosen to stay involved with the Lions organization in this new capacity. The Lions would like to thank him for his dedication and passion he brought to the Lions over the years as head coach.

With the management and coaching staff virtually unchanged for the upcoming season the Lions are excited for the upcoming soccer campaign. With minimal change anticipated in the club’s lineup for 2004, the Lions are excited about the upcoming indoor and outdoor soccer seasons hoping to continue to build on the successes of the past two seasons as the players and coaches now get focused on the hard work ahead in 2004.

Tony Nocita Tony Nocita to enter Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame

September 16, 2003
The Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame announced the list of 2003 inductees. Tony Nocita was one of those whom were honoured today, and was accepted in the first year being nominated for this distinctive honour.

Nocita formerly captained the Winnipeg Fury in the Canadian Soccer League. Nocita also played for the Hamilton Steelers in their 1991 season in which the team lost to Vancouver in the Mita Cup Final. Nocita along with his Fury teammates exacted revenge on the 86ers with the glorious 1992 Mita Cup championship run. Nocita also spent one season in Toronto playing in the A-League as a member of the Toronto Rockets. Nocita also spent several years with the Canadian Men's National Team. In 2002, Nocita along with his teammates captured the Canadian Amateur Championship (Challenge Cup) in Newfoundland.

Tony Nocita joins the likes of hockey greats Terry Sawchuk, Bobby Hull, Bobby Clarke, Butch Goring, Reggie Leach, Ab McDonald, and Bill Mosienko, along with football heroes such as former Bomber and Washington Redskin Willard Reaves, former Bomber great Kenny Ploen, and former Bomber and Minnesota Viking's head coach Bud Grant. Also inducted in previous years were boxing great Donny Lalonde and Vince Leah from the sport of Soccer.

The Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is dedicated to preserve, celebrate, and showcase the history and heritage of sport excellence and achievements in Manitoba.

The Museum is located on the 5th Floor of The Bay downtown. The official induction ceremony dinner will take place this November.

The 2003 inductees into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame:


* Tony Nocita, soccer (former national-team member, Winnipeg Fury captain).
* Susan Auch, speed skating (former Olympic and world-championship medallist).
* Mary Dempster, volleyball (former Olympian, national-team member).
* Ted Green, hockey (NHL/WHA championship-winning all-star defenceman, coach).
* Grant Skinner, softball (world, national, provincial champion; Pan Am Games gold medallist).


* 1963-64 Winnipeg Maroons, hockey (Allan Cup champions).

Veteran category

* Herbert Olafsson, basketball (national-team member, national champion).
* 1959 Winnipeg Braves (Memorial Cup champions).


* Jeff Collins, athletics (longtime meet director, coach and clinician on local, international levels).
* Fred Stambrook, soccer (high-ranking FIFA official, proponent of women's and youth soccer).

Lions Win 2003 MMSL League Championship!!

September 9, 2003
The Sons of Italy Lions clinched the 2003 MMSL League Championship with Sokol's 3-0 victory over Lucania this evening.

The League title is Sons of Italy's second League Championship in three years. It was two years ago that the Lions were crowned the last League Champions of the Super Soccer Alliance.

The Lions have now secured a spot in next year's Charity Shield match, and will now have an opportunity to defend the Charity Shield Championship it won prior to the start of the regular season this year. The match next season will be a re-match between Sokol this year's MSA Cup Champions and the Lions.

The Lions regular season record heading into the final game of the season is 20 wins and 1 loss. A Lucania victory in its final match versus Sokol, would have forced a Lions victory over Maples.

The Lions one remaining regular season match versus Maples will be played on Tuesday, September 16th, at 6 PM, at Vince Leah Community Centre. The MMSL playoffs will follow one week later.

Survivor Africa Champion Ethan Zohn and Sons of Italy Lions joined forces for weekend fundraiser!!

Lions and Ethan Raise Funds and Awareness for Grass Root Soccer

August 30, 2003
Survivor Africa Champion Ethan Zohn and the 2002 Canadian Amateur Soccer Champion
Sons of Italy Lions Soccer Club
spent the Labour Day long weekend raising funds and awareness for Ethan's African charity 'Grass Root Soccer'. This charity was created by Ethan and is designed to train professional soccer players about HIV/Aids prevention. These athletes then go into the classrooms of Zimbabwe and educate the children of this region about the truths and dispel the myths of this deadly disease.

The events took place throughout the weekend with Ethan speaking to the Winnipeg West Rotary Club on Thursday, August 28th. The Rotary Club presented Ethan with a donation to his charity at the conclusion of the luncheon.

On Friday, August 29th, Ethan participated in the opening pitch ceremony prior to the start of the Winnipeg Goldeyes game. Later that evening the Goldeyes donated the proceeds of the silent auction to the African Aids prevention charity founded by Zohn after his 1 million dollar Survivor victory just over 2 years ago.

On the Saturday August 30th morning the Sons of Italy Lions in conjunction with the Phoenix Soccer Club hosted Ethan's, Sons of Italy Lions - Ethan Zohn Survivor Soccer Camp. All participants welcomed the three hours of soccer camp instruction by Ethan and the Lions players. The Lions then carried the celebration over through the evening as they joined Ethan for an evening fundraiser event at The Empire Cabaret. Additional pictures of the soccer camp can be found in the Team Photos section of this web site.

The weekends success would not have been fulfilled without the generous support of the following sponsors and participants: Global TV, Q94 FM/99 BOB FM, Clarion Hotels, Canad Inns Hotels, Subway, CJOB 68, Aura Hair Salons, Mordens' of Winnipeg Candy Manufacturing Ltd., Soccer Spectrum, and T.E.A.M. Chiropractic Family Wellness Centre.

Special thanks goes out to Doug Leeies of the Phoenix Soccer Club for all his help in the preparatory and hosting of the soccer camp. Special thanks also goes out to all Lions players, coaching staff, and management team who made this event an overwhelming success.

The final thanks goes out to Ethan who made this weekend possible, and his enthusiasm during his visit to Winnipeg did not go unnoticed.

Sport gives us the opportunity to reach others. During the past several days Ethan along with the Sons of Italy Lions Soccer Club, hope to have taken a step closer in helping prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in those most vulnerable in Zimbabwe Africa.

Thanks to all!!

He's more than just a pretty face

August 30, 2003
Survivor Winner Ethan champions charity to help Africans fight Aids

By LINDOR REYNOLDS of the Winnipeg Free Press

ETHAN Zohn is dead cute.

He's as comely in person as he was on TV. His wide smile is beguiling, his manner disarming. He's polite. He seems smart. He's fit and adventurous. He has a social conscience.

And he won a million bucks two years ago.

For those of you who can't get enough, his favourite colour is blue and his favourite flower is a daisy. His best feature? The trademark mop of black curls.

"Without this hair I'd be nothing," he cracks over breakfast at the Pancake House.

If Zohn seems too good to be true, there's more. The Survivor: Africa winner, a former professional soccer player, took his windfall and started a charity to help educate people in Zimbabwe about AIDS. Grass Roots Soccer teaches African soccer heroes about AIDS prevention and has them go into schools to talk to kids about the illness. A year after being launched, there are plans to expand the charity into Ghana and Zambia. Yep, a real mensch. Call him the Survivor saint.

Zohn, 29, is in town this weekend to raise money for Grass Roots, do a little public speaking and run a soccer clinic for kids. He met with a local Rotary club. Last night, he threw the opening pitch at the Goldeyes' game. Tonight, he'll be at the Empire Cabaret for a fundraiser. He came to the city at the request of local chiropractor Gerald Olin, who went to school with Zohn's brother.

"He's just a very down-to-earth guy," says Olin. "What you saw on television is exactly what he's really like."

Over apple pancakes, Zohn is more than willing to answer Survivor questions, realizing that his charity's success is based in large part on his celebrity. He explains the excruciating selection process for the show, from the first phone call saying he was one of 800 who made the first cut to his eventual selection as one of 16 Survivor cast members. The final culling happened after 12 intense days in Los Angeles complete with psychiatric testing and middle-of-the-night wake-up calls.

"It was really intense," he says. "You're afraid to go to sleep at night because they'll knock at your door at two in the morning and there's 15 people outside your door waiting to interview you."

Zohn's quite aware he's got 15 minutes of fame ("It's weird. It's fun. I know I have an expiration date.") and he's determined to make the most of it. There are public appearances, both solo and with other Survivor cast members, college lectures, photo shoots and TV appearances. He takes what he needs to live and plows the rest back into the charity. There were no spending sprees. He bought his brothers some presents and took his mother on a trip. He lives in the same two-bedroom Manhattan apartment and doesn't own a car. He says he would have put the same effort into Survivor if the prize had been a large cheese pizza, that it was about integrity and strength of character.

He's in touch weekly with fellow Survivor mates Tom Buchanan (the farmer) and Lex Van Den Bergh (the tattooed wonder). He denies the rumour that he's dating Survivor: The Amazon winner Jenna Morasca, a swimsuit and Playboy model.

"I wish, definitely," he says.

His focus is on Africa and the challenges it faces as it battles HIV and AIDS. This comic-book perfect TV celebrity, the clock ticking on his fame, is trying to leave a legacy that will save children from almost-certain death.

The tribe has spoken. Ethan Zohn is much more than a pretty face.

Although you can't take that away from him either.

Survivor winner's soccer camp tackles African AIDS

August 20, 2003

Ethan Zohn, winner of the Africa component of the popular Survivor reality show series, will be in Winnipeg for a one-day Survivor Soccer Camp on Aug. 30.

The camp is geared towards youth age six to 18. But no worries, kids. No one will be voted off this island.

"It's going to be fun," said Zohn, 29, by telephone from New York City. "It's going to be kids helping kids 'cause the money we raise there will go directly to Grassroots Soccer."

Grassroots Soccer is non-profit organization Zohn started after his Survivor Africa win. Zohn, who played professional soccer with teams in the United States and Zimbabwe, was moved by the African AIDS crisis to help.

The organization takes African soccer players, who, said Zohn, are viewed as "heroes" in their communities, and teaches them about HIV and AIDS. The players, in turn, go into school classrooms and talk to children about AIDS prevention.

"The theory is simple," said Zohn. "Use positive role models in the classrooms and it'll have a better effect on the behavioural change of these children."

The charity, which has been up and running in Zimbabwe for nine months, has reached over 2,000 children and will expand to Ghana and Zambia in the fall.

"It's a fantastic, worthwhile event," said Charles (Chic) Devenney, coach of event co-host Sons of Italy soccer club, which is contributing players and coaching staff.

"This is a tremendous connection," added Devenney. "To think we're helping kids who'd never know about Winnipeg, never know about Manitoba."

The camp, also co-hosted by the Lions and the Phoenix Soccer Club, will be held on Saturday, Aug. 30, at Anderson Park. For registration inquiries, call 947-6700 (ext. 237).

All proceeds from the event go towards Zohn's organization and the Lions and Phoenix soccer programs.

Lions look to take bite out of rivals

August 16, 2003

It's down to the final four in Manitoba's premiere senior-level soccer tournament.

The Manitoba Soccer Association MSA Provincial Championships take to the fields at Vince Leah Community Centre with the semifinals tomorrow and finals next Sunday.

On the men's side, defending provincial and national champions Sons of Italy Lions take on Hellas, while Sokol plays Maples Juventus, at 2 and 5 p.m. respectively.

As for the women's tourney, the match-ups are Sweat Shack and Team Extreme, and Valeo vs. defending provincial champs Team United.

The Sons of Italy are feeling the pressure to win the provincial for the chance to defend its national title, won last October in St. John's, Nfld., when the team beat the St. Lawrence Laurentians on an overtime golden goal by Sean Margeson.


"We're just getting ready mentally and physically," said Andrew Aitken, a right fullback who's been with the Lions since 1998. "(We're) taking it one game at a time and we're trying not to look too far ahead."

Aitken admits that putting the national championship out of their minds has been "tough."

"We know that we're good and we know that we can, we have a definite shot at defending our title," added Aitken. "We just want to keep it going, we just got to keep level-headed and go from there."

Lions' coach Charles (Chic) Devenney said each final four team is well-prepared and "can play this game at the highest level." He also knows the teams are out for Lions' blood.

"I think it's vital (to win) because you work so hard to get to that pinnacle and everyone wants to knock you off it," said Devenney. "Every single game, everyone wants to beat you and you have to be better than them, you have to outwork their positions and you then have to outplay them."

Lou Guffei, the competition's senior director, said Winnipeggers can expect a high calibre of play tomorrow.

"I think the level of soccer in Manitoba has picked up and I think we're going to see some good sides," said Guffei, adding that admission is only $3 for the whole day and free for children under 12.

Guffei said the Lions' strong point is their physical fitness.

"The Sons are extremely conditioned," said Guffei. "They're going to run the other team into the ground, forcing them to make a mistake and when the mistake comes up, if they get the ball to the right guys, they're going to put it in."

But, added Guffei, anything is possible as Sokol and Hellas have strong forwards in players such as Nano Romero and Justin Hart respectively, while the Maples Juventus' strong defence will make them a counter-attack threat.

MSA Cup Semi-Final Match-Ups Set

July 29, 2003
The Sons of Italy Lions will face Hellas, while Maples Juventus will face Sokol in the MSA Cup Semi-Final round.
The games will be played at Vince Leah Community Centre, on Sunday, August 17th, 2003, with game time at 2:00 pm.

Lion Pride at Western Canada Games...Manitoba Capture Silver

August 5, 2003
Team Manitoba were winners of a Silver Medal at the 2003 Western Canada Games in Selkirk, Manitoba. Three players from the Sons of Italy Lions Soccer Club were instrumental in securing the strong Manitoba finish.

Frank Buoncore who captained the Manitoba side, along with Vince Ferlaino. and David McPhail, all performed admirably for Manitoba. It was Buoncore who scored the lone goal for Manitoba in a 6-1 loss to a strong B.C. team.

Also playing important roles for Manitoba were Larry Ladobruk as a Manitoba assistant coach, and Bob Cowie as the Manitoba manager.

Congratulations go out to the entire Team Manitoba players and staff.

Three Lions to Battle for Manitoba

July 24, 2003
Three Sons of Italy Lions players, David McPhail, Vince Ferlaino, and Frank Buoncore, will all represent Team Manitoba at the 2003 Western Canada Summer Games from August 1st to 5th. Lions assistant coach Larry Ladobruk will also be a part of the Manitoba coaching staff. The games are to played in Selkirk.

The following are scheduled matches:

Saturday, August 2nd at 2:00 pm vs. Alberta at Selkirk Rec Centre #2

Sunday, August 3rd at 6:00 pm vs. Yukon at Selkirk High School Stadium.

The opening ceremonies are on Thursday, July 31st at 7:00 pm at the Selkirk High School Stadium.

5th Place match: Tuesday, August 5th at 9:30 am

Bronze Medal match: Tues., August 5th at 12:30 pm

Gold Medal match: Tuesday, August 5th at 6:30 pm

Lions advance to MSA Cup Semi-Final Round

July 19, 2003
With the Lions 1-0 victory over Sokol, Sons of Italy advance to the MSA Cup Semi-Final round. The Lions were outright winners of Group C, with the club's 1-1 tie with Lucania, and 4-2 victory over Dynamo earlier in the week.

Group C took on the role as the 2003 MSA Cup's Group of Death, with the MMSL premier division Sokol, Lucania, and Sons of Italy Clubs all drawn into the same group. The 2002 defending Canadian Champion Lions did not disappoint their supporters with their game three performance versus Sokol. The victory for the Lions eliminated the 2000 Canadian Champion Lucania Soccer Club, from the 2003 tournament.

Sokol will now wait to meet the winner of Hanover Kickers versus South End Celtic to determine the fourth team to advance to the Semi-Final round.

Both Hellas and Maples Juventus were group winners, and both join Sons of Italy in the final four Semi-Final round.

The Lions Semi-Final match will be on Sunday, August 17th.

Survivor Soccer Camp with Survivor Africa Champion...Ethan Zohn

During the month of August/03, Ethan Zohn champion of Survivor Africa will be arriving in Winnipeg. Since winning Survivor, Ethan has traveled throughout North America raising funds for his newly founded charity ‘Grass Root Soccer’.

GRS was developed in an effort to educate professional soccer players in Africa about AIDS prevention. These athletes are the most identifiable in Africa. The average life expectancy in Africa just ten years ago was 63 years of age. Today because of AIDS, the number has sharply declined to 39 years of age. Of all AIDS cases worldwide, 76 percent are in sub-Saharan Africa. Over 29.4 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in Africa, and 8.3 million of those cases are children. By the year 2010 more than 35 percent of all kids in Zimbabwe are expected to be AIDS orphans.

As a former professional soccer player in Africa and the United States, and now a recognizable face throughout North America, with his big Survivor win, Ethan stated:
“What good would it make winning Survivor and getting all this cash and what good would all this good fortune be, if I didn’t share it and spread it around. So I set out to help fight against the spread of HIV / AIDS by starting my own non-profit called Grass Root Soccer.”

Now you can help us help Ethan. Be a partner in our weekend of raising awareness and funds for Grass Root Soccer. Ethan will be helping run a one-day soccer camp for local youth players on Saturday, August 30th, with the 2002 defending Canadian Amateur Soccer Champion, Sons of Italy Lions. In addition, we are planning an evening charity fundraiser at the Empire Night Club on Saturday, August 30th. Ethan has also been invited to throw the opening pitch for a Winnipeg Goldeyes game on Friday, August 29th. Tickets for the Empire Cabaret event will be available at Aura Hair Salons and T.E.A.M. Chiropractic.

The Survivor Soccer Camp will be run by the Sons of Italy Lions Soccer Club and the Phoenix Soccer Club. An application for the soccer camp is available on this site by choosing the Camp Application on the Menu Options.

Proud sponsors for the weekend events are:

Q94 FM
Global Television Network
Clarion Hotel
Canad Inns Hotels
Aura Hair Salons
T.E.A.M. Chiropractic Family Wellness Centre
Mordens' of Winnipeg Candy Manufacturing LTD.
Soccer Spectrum

Jorge Aguirre to represent Canada

July 8, 2003
Canada's Men's Soccer Roster Announced
For World University Games in Daegu, Korea

Ottawa, ON (CIS) - Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) officially announced today the athletes and coaches that will represent Canada in men's soccer at the 2003 Summer Universiade in Daegu, Korea August 20-31.

Appearing at the Universiade in men's soccer for the first time since the 1995 Games in Fukuoka, Japan (15th place) Canada will play its first game on Wednesday August 20th against the People's Republic of China.

The 2003 edition of Team Canada consists of the best players Canadian Universities have to offer, including no less than 13 All-Canadians from the 2002 season, including Dalhousie University and Sons of Itlay Lions midfielder Jorge Aguirre, the top 3 goal scorers in CIS in 2002, CIS's Most Valuable Players from 2002 and 2001, and four regional association Most Valuable Players from 2002.

Three members of this all-star selection hail from this year's CIS Men's Soccer Champions, the Brock University Badgers, one played for the Silver medallist Carleton University Ravens, and one claimed the Bronze medal with the McGill University Redmen.

Head Coach Len Vickery of the University of Alberta is pleased with his team and the opportunity to participate in the Universiade: "I am extremely fortunate to be given this opportunity to coach the CIS men's squad at the forthcoming Games and in having the quality of player available to make this team a strong and exciting participant at this major international event. This outstanding group of soccer players is perhaps a reflection of the growth and strength of University soccer programs across Canada."

Goal Keeper 1 Vince Lepiane * Brock Niagara Falls, ON
GK 2 John (Jordan) Robinson * Victoria Victoria, BC
Sweeper 3 John Luigi Gallo Brock Niagara Falls, ON
Defender 4 Kwesi Treston Loney * Carleton Ottawa, ON
D 5 Chris Stefanazzi * Western Ont. Scarborough, ON
S 6 Etienne Godbout * Montreal Montreal, PQ
D 7 Aaron Richer * UBC Vancouver, BC
Middle 8 Jeremy Lawson McGill Montreal, PQ
M 9 Jordan Gillespie * Alberta Saskatoon, SK
M 10 John Stefan Kamendy Brock St. Catharines, ON
M 11 Jorge Aguirre * Dalhousie Winnipeg, MB
M 12 Brett Norton * UPEI Charlottetown, PEI
M 13 Jeremy Armstrong * Queen's Kingston, ON
M 14 Kenny Nutt * Wilfrid Laurier Kitchener, ON
M 15 Mesut Mert St. Mary's Halifax , NS
Forward 16 Alexandre Tran-Khanh Montreal Saint-Georges, PQ
F 17 Steven Vieira Frazao UBC Port Coquitlam, BC
F 18 Patrick O'Connell * UPEI Charlottetown, PEI

D - Derek Tsang * McGill Montreal, PQ
M - Terry Bell UBC Vancouver, BC
M - Sean Andrew Battistoni Victoria Victoria, BC

- All-Canadians: *

Leonard Vickery Head Coach Alberta Edmonton, AB
Pat Raimondo Assistant Coach Montreal Montreal, PQ
Keith Mason General Manager Guelph Guelph, ON

Lions Excited about 2003 Roster

May 18, 2003
After last seasons National Championship, the Lions are pleased to announce their 2003 Outdoor Roster.

Much of the lineup will look no different than last season, with the return of Steve Sawatzky, Tevin Olivier-Job, Andrew Aitken, Peter Drazic, Tony Nocita, Ed Keeper, Rob Cowie, Jorge Aguirre, Justin Parry, Steve Rebizant, Ryan Dyck, Sean Margison, and Sean Sylvestre. These thirteen players all played an integral part in the Lions march to Canadian supremacy in 2002.

The Club is also extremely pleased to announce the addition of four new players graduating from the Winnipeg Youth Premiership program, one former Canada Summer Games team Manitoba player and the return of a former Lion veteran. Matt Johnson, who spent last season in Halifax, with the Nova Scotia provincial champions, will return for a new tour of duty with his former Lions teammates. Eric Baranowski who spent last season with Polonia, and whom was also a member of the 2001 Manitoba Canada Games team, will add further skill to the Lions attack. Fresh new faces to the Lions active roster are all former Provincial All-Stars, who have been regular juvenile call-ups for the Lions over the past several seasons. These new additions are Frank Buoncore, Vince Ferlaino, David McPhail, and Nevin deKorompay.

The Lions will once again have Chic Devenney as head coach, with Larry Ladobruk and Tony Nocita as assistant coaches. The Lions are pleased to have Bob Cowie joining the management team in 2003. The team doctor will once again be Dr. Gerald Olin, with Chris Notley joining the club as Athletic Therapist.

The organization is pleased with the exciting additions and returnees in 2003. With the quality of competition in the Province of Manitoba, the Lions are well aware of the difficult task at hand of not only defending their National crown, but also the difficult journey ahead in attempting to defend the club's 2002 MSA Cup crown.

The regular season kicks-off on Sunday, May 25th, at 5:00 PM, at the Vince Leah Community Centre.

Season debut helps charity

May 9, 2003
Sons of Italy, Sokol kick off season with soccer game for worthy cause

By Ashley Prest of the Winnipeg Free Press

THOUGH the Manitoba Major Soccer League is entering its second season, tradition is a major part of the senior men's loop.
The MMSL, which was formed last season when the Super Soccer Alliance merged with the Manitoba Central Soccer League, will hold its first annual Charity Shield soccer game tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Vince Leah Community Centre, featuring Sons of Italy, the defending national champions and Manitoba Soccer Association Cup winners, and Sokol, winners of the Premier Division.

Based on the English model, which pits the FA Cup champion and the Premier League winner in a season-opening game, the MMSL will present the Shield to the winning team in this friendly match that will kick off the MMSL's second season but will not count in the standings. Admission is $2, with all proceeds going to Special Olympics Manitoba.

"We are very fortunate to have such high-profile teams in our province as the national champions Sons of Italy and Sokol, which led the Premier Division," MMSL president Sean Drain said. "We are excited about the charity game because it is our first official game of the season and it is being played for a very worthy cause. We believe an event like this will bring more recognition to our sport and to our charity."

Brent Boulter, the MMSL scheduler and third vice-president, said the referees have donated their time and the Vince Leah Community Centre donated the field time for the event.

"We hope this game will help Special Olympics Manitoba and encourage people to come out and see two very good teams from our league," Boulter said. Since forming in 1995, Sons of Italy have won the MSA Cup four times and won two medals at the nationals, a bronze in 1996 and last year's gold.

Gerald Olin, Sons of Italy co-manager, said his team was thrilled to be asked to participate in the game.

"It's a very exciting opportunity for us to reach out and do something good for the community. Sport has that great ability to help the community on many different levels," said Olin, in his sixth year with Sons of Italy. "Anytime you do something like this, it brings people together."

Sokol manager Irek Lemans said community is very important to his team as well, which has been part of the Winnipeg soccer scene since 1906.

"This game is something that we can give back to the community. Any way we can help and promote the game of soccer, we're all for it," said Lemans, whose team won all 16 of their MMSL games last season.

With the addition of the 10-team Winnipeg Men's League and the loss of Thistle, which has withdrawn from the Premier Division, the MMSL will operate this season with 79 teams, with the playing schedule opening May 25. Manitoba's under-17 team will play games in the First Division. The MSA Cup schedule is expected to open in July. The Premier Division will have 12 teams and the First Division will include 11 teams. The Second, Third and Fourth Divisions will field 12 teams each with the Fifth Division including 10 teams and the Winnipeg Men's League making up a Sixth Division with 10 teams.

Sons of Italy, focused on the defence of their national title, have been practising three times a week for the past month and are travelling to Calgary during the May long weekend for a three-game exhibition series against the Calgary Callies, the Alberta champions, the Calgary Storm professional A-League team and the University of Calgary Dinosaurs.

In June, Sons of Italy will travel to Duluth, Minn., to play an exhibition series against the Minnesota Thunder, another A-League side.

Lions to play Calgary Storm in Exhibition match

May 12, 2003
The Sons of Italy Lions are pleased to announce our official schedule for our training camp in Calgary this weekend.

The Lions will open on Friday evening, May 16th, with a match versus the Calgary Villains of the Alberta Major Soccer League.

On Saturday, May 17th, the Lions will face the University of Calgary Dinos.

A change in scheduling forced the cancellation of the Calgary Callies match, however, the Lions are extremely pleased to announce that this match will now be replaced by a Sunday afternoon, May 18th match versus the Calgary Storm.

This training camp will set the stage for the season opener on Sunday, May 25th, versus Polonia.

Major Exhibition Games Announced...Lions Excited for Upcoming Outdoor Season

January 27, 2003
The Sons of Italy Lions are pleased to announce the first of a series of exhibition matches for the upcoming 2003 outdoor season.

The Lions will begin with a training camp in Calgary from May 16th to 19th, where they will play defending Alberta champions the Calagary Callies, in addition to the Calgary Villains, and the University of Calgary Dinosaurs. The defending Canadian Amateur Champion Sons of Italy Lions will also be participating in an exhibition match on Friday, June 27, 2003, versus the Minnesota Thunder of the A-League (United States Professional League - Division two), at 7:00 p.m. The match versus the Thunder will take place in Duluth, Minnesota, and will be the feature match kicking off the weekend soccer festival in Duluth. Organizers of the event were pleased to land the defending Canadian Champions as the opponent to face off against the State of Minnesota's top professional club.

In addition to the match against the Thunder, Sons of Italy will travel to Thunder Bay, to take on the PDL (Premier Developmental League) Thunder Bay Chill on Sunday, June 29, 2003, at 1:00 p.m.

Sons of Italy veteran defender Tony Nocita, who last played the Minnesota Thunder as a member of the Winnipeg Fury in 1992, when the Fury defeated the Thunder 6-1 at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex, stated, "We were very excited by the opportunity to give our players the chance to take their game to a higher level." Nocita continued, "Games such as these do not replace the importance of the MMSL regular season, or the MSA Cup, but instead act as opportunities for our players to participate against new opponents in new environments." The Lions who are well aware of how difficult it will be to defend their 2002 MSA Cup championship, and furthermore how difficult their defense of the national crown will be, hope to use these matches as tune-ups for the challenges the club will face in 2003.

With respect to the hard work and effort of the Sons of Italy players, Nocita further added, "Our players deserve the opportunity to also showcase their talent and to take their games to a higher level. These games follow closely with the Sons of Italy philosophy of youth development and commitment to our soccer club's overall growth and success."

FREE KICKS: The Lions will participate on Saturday, May 10th in the first annual Charity Shield game versus 2002 MMSL League Champion, Sokol. The kick-off is at 3:00 pm, at Vince Leah Community Centre.

Sons of Italy Lions Management Team Set for 2003 Season

March 15, 2003
The Sons of Italy Lions Soccer Club is pleased to announce the return of its 2002 coaching staff for the 2003 season. The Lions coaching staff will once again feature Chic Devenney as Head Coach, Larry Ladobruk as an Assistant Coach and Director of Player Development and Scouting, and Tony Nocita will return as a Player/Assistant Coach.

The management duties will be split by long time provincial team managers Bob Cowie, as Co-Manager and Director of Local Youth Programming, and Gerald Olin as Co-Manager and Director of Medical Services.

Long time Lions Manager Joe Kostek has announced his intentions to join the Polonia Soccer Club, as team Manager. The Lions thank Joe Kostek for his many years of dedicated service to the Lions organization, and wish him luck in his new position with Polonia.

With the Coaching and Management team in place and the players hard at work, the Lions are pleased to begin the hard work which will be needed in attempting to defend our 2002 Canadian National Championship and 2002 MSA Cup Championship.

Nominees for the MSSA awards

December 4, 2002
By Winnipeg Free Press

Teams nominated:

David Hamblin curling team -- With support from Ross Doerksen, Kevin Hamblin and Ross McCannell, Hamblin won World Junior crown in Kelowna, B.C., beating Sweden 3-2 in the final. Only the second team from Manitoba ever to win the championship.

OCN Blizzard -- After an exceptional regular-season record of 56-5-1-1, OCN advanced to win the Anavet Cup over Saskatchewan and were runners-up to Halifax in the national Junior A tournament.

Manitoba Ladies 5-Pin Bowling team -- Led by national tournament all-star Chris Monchak, the squad averaged 241 to finish the preliminary round-robin in first place. Beat Ontario in the stepladder final of the national championship in Winnipeg.

Sons of Italy -- Scored a 2-1 semifinal victory over Nova Scotia to advance to the national final in St. John's, Nfld. Sean Margison's goal in the second overtime gave the team a 1-0 win over Newfoundland and the Canadian title.

Manitoba Bisons women's volleyball team -- Bisons advanced to the national tournament as a wild-card entry and captured the national CIS championship for the second straight year, beating top-seeded Calgary in the title game.

Day two in Las Vegas - Lions Clinch Playoff Birth - California team wins Silver Mug

February 13, 2011
The Lions opened day two with a 2-0-1 record, good for first place in their group.

Day two, had its ups and downs.

The Lions opened the morning against Escuela Latino Americana from Nevada. The Lions battled throughout match, but fell 2-1. The Lions scored on a spectacular finish by Graham Halford.

Game two saw the Lions face a strong side Clearlink FC from Utah. Despite Moreno Alberti equalizing the match for the Lions at 1-1 in the first half, the Lions fell 5-2. The Lions second goal was scored by Domi Antonini.

The Lions 2-2-1 round robin record, resulted in a second place finish in group play.

The 37 team tournament round robin ended with the Lions qualifying as the 14th seed in the 16 team playoff round.

In the 6th match of the tournament, the Lions faced San Nicholas, Cochella Valley from California, the 2010 Silver Mug finalists. Made up of USL-1 players, Cochella Valley proved to be the toughest opponent of the tournament for the Lions. The Lions fell 4-0 to the strong California side.

San Nicholas went on to win the 2011 Silver Mug Invitational Tournament after going scoreless for 90 minutes and 30 minutes of overtime, they won a sudden death shootout by a score of 6-5 over Municipio de Juarez from El Paso, Texas.

Sons of Italy Nominated for 2002 Manitoba Team of the Year

December 4, 2002
The Manitoba Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association has announced the finalists for the selection of Manitoba's Athletes of the Year and Team of the Year for 2002.

Three nationals champions, a Canadian runner-up, and a World champion are the finalists for Team of the Year. The Manitoba Bison Women's Volleyball team won its second straight Canadian university title, the Sons of Italy captured the Canadian Senior Men's Soccer Championship, the Manitoba Ladies 5-pin Bowling team was the national gold medallist, the OCN Blizzard were runners-up to Halifax in the Canadian Junior A Hockey Championship, and David Hamblin's Pembina team won the Manitoba, Canadian and World Junior Curling Championships.

After the final vote by Manitoba Media, the winners will be declared at the annual Athletes of the Year awards dinner on Sunday, January 19th at the Delta Winnipeg.


Great opening day for Lions in Las Vegas at Silver Mug Tournament

February 12, 2011
On a beautiful clear day in Las Vegas at the Kellogg-Zaher Soccer Park, the Lions opened day one in Las Vegas with 2 wins and 1 tie. The 37 team invitational tournament includes US teams from California, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and Texas, one team from Mexico, and the Sons of Italy Lions as the only Canadian representative.

The Lions began the tournament with a 2-2 tie, playing 2010 Silver Mug semi-finalists FC Hasental from California. The Lions opened the scoring early in the first half on a goal by Adam Hajkowski. After going up 2-1 on a goal by Domi Antonini in the second half, FC Hasental tied the match on a free kick with 2 minutes remaining.

In game two, the Lions played Latino United from Texas. With five minutes remaining, Moreno Alberti scored the winner, while Steve Sawatzky recorded the shutout in the Lions 1-0 win.

In game three, the Lions played AC Legends from Colorado. After seeing AC Legends open the scoring early in the second half, the Lions Matt Appler scored 2 goals in the final 15 minutes, the second with 2 minutes remaining to lead the Lions to a 2-1 victory and second straight victory of the day.

The Lions lead their Group D heading into day two of the tournament on Sunday, when the Lions will play Escuela Latino Americana from Nevada and Clearlink FC from Utah.

Aguirre and Olivier-Job Named CIS All-Canadians

November 5, 2002
Two Sons of Italy teammates were both honoured by the CIS (University) Athletic Association this week. Midfielder Jorge Aguirre, a member of the Dalhousie University soccer team (Halifax), was named to the 1st Team All-Canadian CIS squad, while defender Tevin Olivier-Job, a member of the Memorial University soccer team (St. John's), was named to the 2nd Team All-Canadian CIS squad. The selections come less than one month after both players played integral roles in the Sons of Italy Lions National Championship Gold Medal win in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Accolades keep rolling in .... Ryan Dyck honoured!!

November 3, 2002
Sons of Italy Lions midfielder Ryan Dyck, who less than one month ago placed the perfectly timed through ball to Sean Margison, which led to the game winning double overtime goal, which helped in securing the the 2002 gold medal at the Canadian Senior Men's National Challenge Cup tournament in St. John's, Newfoundland, was named this week to the Canadian College All-Canadian Team. Ryan will be receiving his award at Laval University in Quebec City, later this week.

MSA Honours Lions with Awards!!

November 2, 2002
The Manitoba Soccer Association is handing out its yearly hardware, and the Sons of Italy Lions and staff lead the way in being recipients of three of the MSA awards.

The MSA has announced the Sons of Italy Lions as its 2002 Outstanding Team of the Year. The award is presented annually to a registered team of the Manitoba Soccer Association; in recognition of significant achievement at either the provincial, national, or international level. The Lions were chosen for this team award after the recent National Championship victory in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Sons of Italy goalkeeper Steve Sawatzky has been awarded the Frank Capasso Award of Merit as the 2002 Outstanding Senior Male Athlete of the year. The award is presented to an outstanding active senior male athlete, with involvement of at least ten years, who has exhibited excellent technical soccer skills, served as a team leader and demonstrated the principles of fair play and sportsmanship.

The MSA also announced that Charles 'Chic' Devenney has received the Dave Zacharias Award of Merit for Coaching Development in 2002. The award is presented to an active or inactive coach, with involvement of at least ten years; who has demonstrated outstanding coaching skills and abilities at either the provincial, national or international level and/or contributed in an exceptional manner to the development of coaches in Manitoba.

Golden Sons honoured for excellence

October 23, 2002
By JIM BENDER, STAFF REPORTER for the Winnipeg Sun

Playing in pain on the pitch inspired his Manitoba side to come home with the gold.

Sons of Italy Lions right fullback Andrew Aitkin played every minute of every game of the Canadian Soccer Association's Challenge Cup tournament in St. John's, Nfld., recently. And the Manitoba representatives defeated Newfoundland 1-0 in overtime to win their first national championship.

"I've had a herniated disk in my back since Christmas," Aitkin said yesterday. "It's been tough going. I was suffering a little bit out there, but I just sucked it up and made it through. When (Sean Margison) scored the golden goal, I just dropped to my knees and the pain went away for about five minutes."

Aitkin, who could barely lift his left leg during that OT, managed to walk up to the podium when Eric Robinson, the minister responsible for sports, presented the Lions with Manitoba's Order of Sport Excellence Awards at the Legislative Building yesterday.

"It feels wonderful, fantastic," said Aitkin, the assistant superintendent at Transcona Golf Course. "It's a huge honour to represent the province and come back from a tournament of that calibre and that size with the gold medal."

Aitkin will, however, take the indoor soccer season off.

"Andy's been fighting pain all season and it's a tribute to the desire he has to play the game at this level," said head coach Chic Devenney. "He's getting a well-earned rest now and he's getting a well-earned rest with a gold medal.

"I've been proud of this team since we began this season. They've worked very hard for me. The boys have been fabulous all year round."

Both Devenney and Aitkin credited team therapist Francesco Colosimo and chiropractor Gerald Olin with keeping the players upright.

"The dedication that this team has shown and their success at the national championship is an accomplishment of which all Manitobans can be proud," Robinson said.

Margison capped off Manitoba's second senior title in three years with that golden goal.

"It was an incredible feeling, not so much for scoring the goal myself, but because I knew it was the goal that won the nationals," said the striker, who had scored two goals in the previous match. "We played together in the big games and I couldn't have done anything without the support of this team."

Devenney will never forget that golden feeling.

"It was fantastic," he said. "When Sean put the ball in the net, it was like every dream came true."

Each team member was presented with a silver medallion and a certificate in recognition of their feat.

"It feels absolutely great that Manitoba would honour us like this with all the great teams in the province," Margison said.


Sons of Italy soccer side presented with Sports Excellence Awards after winning the national soccer championship:

- Players -- Jorge Aguire, Mauricio Aguire, Andrew Aitken, Jason Colosimo, Rob Cowie, Peter Drazic, Ryan Dyck, Ed Keeper, Jordan Lanoway, Sean Margison, Mauricio Martinez, Tony Nocita, Tevan Olivier-Job, Justin Parry, Steve Rebizant, Steve Sawatzky, Sean Sylvestre, Ryan Bilous, Chris Furtado, Vince Ferlaino, Frank Buoncore, Tim Colosimo, Nevin deKorompay

- Support staff -- Chic Devenney (head coach), Larry Ladobruk (assistant coach), Joe Kostek (manager), Gerald Olin (assistant manager, chiropractor), Francesco Colosimo (athletic therapist), Ted Nocita (president)

Province of Manitoba Honour Lions at Legislature

October 22, 2002
The Province of Manitoba honoured the 2002 Sons of Italy Soccer Club for its achievements during this recent season.

The Provincial Minister resoponsible for Sport, the Honourable Mr. Eric Robinson, hosted a reception in honor of the Senior Men's Gold Medal Championship win by the Lions on October 14th in St. John's, Newfoundland. The event was held at the Manitoba Legislature with players, team staff, members of the Manitoba Sons of Italy Chapter, team supporters, and several media members from television stations and print media in the City of Winnipeg.

The Minister thanked the team and its organization for its efforts in the Challenge Cup and stressed the significance of the Championship win for the sport of soccer and the Province of Manitoba.

It is anticipated that the City of Winnipeg will be planning a similar reception at City Hall shortly after the upcoming Civic Election.

Semi-Final Matches Set in Newfoundland

October 13, 2002
By the Canadian Press

ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. -- Danny Fournier scored twice to lead Nova Scotia to a 4-0 win over Saskatchewan and a berth in today's semifinals at the Challenge Cup national men's soccer championships.
Fournier scored at 32 and 90 minutes. Trevor Reddick and Mesut Mert also scored yesterday to give the King of Donair club, the Nova Scotia representative, a win over Saskatoon Arsenal and first place in their pool with a 1-0-1 record. Nova Scotia plays Manitoba's Sons of Italy Lions (1-0-1) in the semis.

The St. Lawrence Laurentians, representing Newfoundland and Labrador, and Alberta's Calgary Caledonian, will meet in the other semi, each finishing atop their pools with 1-0-1 records.

Manitoba tied for lead in soccer pool

October 12, 2002
By the Canadian Press

ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. -- Cesar Neda-Sanchez scored with three minutes left to give Quebec a 1-1 tie with Newfoundland in the Challenge Cup Canadian men's soccer championship Friday.
Neda-Sanchez silenced the crowd of more than 4,000 when he caught Newfoundland goalkeeper Pat Byrne well out of his net and booted a low, hard shot into the goal.

Byrne had made a strong save, tipping the ball over the crossbar, moments earlier.

Quebec dominated the second half, hitting two goal posts and one crossbar.

"We had to go forward down 1-0 and they dropped back and gave us some opportunities," said Quebec coach J.R. Toussaint.

"It was Quebec's first game and our second match in two nights. The boys got tired in the second half. It was a fair result," said Newfoundland coach Junior Edwards. Richard Kelly opened the scoring at the 12-minute mark when he booted the ball low to the short side of the net. The ball went off the Quebec goalkeeper's hand and rolled slowly over the goal line.

Newfoundland is 1-0-1 atop Pool B while Ontario is second at 0-0-1.

In Group C, Ontario and Manitoba also played to a 1-1 tie with Paulo Ferreira scoring for Ontario and Tony Nocita scoring Manitoba's goal. Manitoba and Alberta are tied for first, both at 1-0-1. Alberta shut out New Brunswick 3-0 on goals from Cenek Patik, Noel Grisdale and Mike Howlett.

In Pool A, P.E.I. edged Saskatchewan 2-1. Brett Norton scored on a penalty kick at 67 minutes to get the winner. P.E.I. leads at 1-0-1.

Sylvestre backstops Sons of Italy to Win

October 11, 2002
By GLEN DAWKINS of the Winnipeg Sun

For much of the season, Sons of Italy backup goalkeeper Sean Sylvestre has played in the shadow of the provincial champion team's starting keeper Steve Sawatzky.

But yesterday, Sylvestre got his chance to show what he could do.

Pressed into the starting role due to Sawatzky's absence because of work commitments, Sylvestre backstopped Sons of Italy to a 1-0 victory over New Brunswick, in the opening game of the Challenge Cup national senior men's championship in St. John's, Nfld.

"We've seen his character all season," said head coach Chic Devenney. "He came recommended to us and with the training in the early part of the season we recognized that we've got a very influential young man. He comes and he gives great support, even when he's sitting (on the bench) waiting his opportunity to play.


"He seized his opportunity very well today."

Steve Rebizant scored the game's only goal on a penalty kick in the 39th minute in the extremely physical game.

"We tried to play aggressive and in the attacking style that we have but when everything is interrupted constantly with little fouls the game doesn't have a flow," added Devenney. "There were only little periods of the game that we were able to keep the flow going without little fouls coming in."

Meanwhile, Manitoba's Team United lost 2-0 to Ontario in the Jubilee Cup women's championship.

Sylvestre has known for two weeks that Sawatzky was going to miss the first two games of the championship because of his job as a Winnipeg firefighter. That, Devenney said, allowed them to have Sylvestre work with their regular defenders in practice with Sawatzky helping him get ready.

"That gave us a nice buildup so we prepared them properly and hopefully it will continue throughout the tournament," Devenney said.

Sylvestre's big test will come today against powerful Ontario.

"Overall, we definitely deserved the victory but we've got to build on it for (today's) game against Ontario," Devenney said. "We're going to be playing a team with a lot more skillful players and there will be an opportunity to play a little better."

In other championships, Matthew Marjanovic scored and Mike Poirier added a golden goal as Kilcona boys edged Nova Scotia 2-1 to win their opener in the under-14 championships in Kelowna, B.C., while the Kilcona girls were shutout 5-0 by Alberta.

In Calgary, the under-18 championships were postponed to today by snow with the South End United girls and Flames boys representing Manitoba. The Flames girls and Northwest boys will see their first action today in the under-16 championship in Toronto.

"We came here prepared," said Devenney, whose team won the bronze in the Challenge Cup in 1996. "We've got ourselves prepared and we're here trying to do a job. The job is to do our very best in this championship."

'No room for error' on pitch for Sons of Italy at nationals

October 9, 2002
By Jason Bell of the Winnipeg Free Press

THE cool air at last night's soccer practice didn't bother Andrew Aitken a bit.
"I don't mind practising in single digits when we're preparing for the nationals," said Aitken. "This is late in the year for soccer, but we're just glad we're still playing."

Aitken leaves today with the rest of his Sons of Italy teammates for the Canadian senior men's soccer championship in St. John's, Nfld. The Winnipeg squad's first test is Thursday against New Brunswick. Twenty-four hours later, the club faces Ontario.

A quick start to the 10-team national tournament is critical, Aitken said.

"There's no room for error. We have to win that first one," said the 25-year-old right back, who was born in Scotland and moved to Winnipeg 12 years ago. "Two wins puts us in a great position for a shot at a medal. We all believe a medal is realistic. There's a bit of the unknown, because we don't know much about the teams that are going to be there. There could be some giant-killers, but hopefully we're one of them."

Back in late August, Sons of Italy captured the Manitoba Soccer Association Cup with a 1-0 victory over Lucania to qualify for the Canadian championship. It's the club's first trip to the nationals in four years after a third-place finish in 1998 in Toronto. Head coach Chic Devenney, who guided the team to a 14-2 regular-season record, has sensed a nervousness amongst his players the last week or two.

"They all realize the magnitude," said Devenney, also a native of Scotland. "There's a quiet determination. I think they're all realize they have to play their very best, because we'll be facing the best in the country. But our expectations are very high."

Devenney will use Sean Sylvester in goal, although the club's other keeper, Steve Sawatzky, could see action later in the tournament. Backs like Aitken and Tony Nocita, a former star with the Winnipeg Fury pro club, will be counted on for their solid defensive work, while strikers Steve Rebizant and Sean Margison must provide the bulk of the offensive punch, said Devenney.

"Our strength is our passing and our team play," he said. "We play an aggressive, attacking game. We like to sneak behind the defence and get our opportunities. Sometimes, we have our troubles with offsides, but that's all part of our concept of play."

No fewer than five members of the Sons of Italy are playing soccer away from home at the collegiate level. Robbie Cowie plays for the Keyano College Huskies in Fort McMurray, Alta., Tevin Oliver-Job stars for Memorial University in St. John's, while Peter Drazic and the brother combination of Jorge and Mauricio Aguirre compete for Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Sons of Italy set to Roar in Newfoundland

October 8, 2002
The Lions will head off to St. John's, Newfoundland early on October 9th. The team will meet up with several of its veterans who are currently in the middle of their respective University seasons.

The Lions open with a game versus New Brunswick on Thursday, October 11. Game two will see Ontario face the Lions on Friday, October 11. The remainder of the schedule will be determined by the results of the first two days of the tournament.

Free Kicks:The Lions will be without veteran netminder Steve Sawatzky until game three of the tournament, but look to goaltender Sean Sylvestre to step up in the first two matches of the tournament in place of the veteran Sawatzky.

The Lions were bronze medalists during their last appearance at Senior Men's Nationals, and hope to add to their medal totals.

Keep up to date with results from Newfoundland throughout the tournament, right here in the Lions Den.

Buoncore talks about Belgium Experience

September 25, 2002
Soccer sensation dreams of suiting up for pro squad

By Martin Zeilig of the Winnipeg Free Press

THERE was never any doubt that Francesco Buoncore would be a soccer player.
"I've been playing soccer since age three. Growing up in an Italian family, soccer is a way of life," says Buoncore, 16, a Grade 12 student at Grant Park High School.

"It's a beautiful game, very complex. There's more going on at times than you see."

Thanks to his prowess in soccer, there was a lot going on in Buoncore's life this summer. The inside midfielder, who plays for the Sons of Italy first division team in the Manitoba Major Soccer League, recently returned from three weeks in Belgium where he practised and played a couple of games with the juvenile under-18 team associated with the professional first division club, Anderlecht.

Chic Devenney, head coach of Sons of Italy, believes that Buoncore is one of the few local young players who has a chance of making it as a professional soccer player.

"He has such a love of the game," says Devenney, noting that Buoncore is always willing to take advice on how to improve his game. "He's got a nice shot, good positioning and works the ball with both feet. He has excellent talent and great skill and a lovely vision of the game. He needs the opportunity to play the game at a high level."

Buoncore points out that his invitation to play in Belgium came about when Patrick Di Stafani, the chief trainer of the third division soccer club Union St. Gillios in Brussels, was here about 18 months ago to help the Manitoba Provincial U-17 soccer club prepare for the national juvenile championship.

"He saw me in an exhibition game playing against the Western Canada Games U-19 team. He liked what he saw and continued watching our practices. He returned to Belgium but kept in contact with my coach, Tony Nocita, who's now living in Calgary," he says.

Di Stafani returned to Winnipeg earlier this year.

"He offered me a chance to train with his team in Belgium, as well as possible tryouts with some top clubs there," says Buoncore, noting that he was in Brussels from Aug. 19 to Sept. 9. "I trained with his team for the first two weeks, and then he got me the tryout with Anderlecht."

Buoncore emphasizes that he did very well with Anderlecht in his first practice. As a result, the team's coach asked him to play in their game that weekend. "He saw that I was a good player and wanted me to play against the Standard Liege juvenile team," he says, commenting that Belgium soccer teams, like those in other countries, groom their juvenile players for eventual participation with the senior club.

"So I played in the game and the coach saw that I could play at a high level and could contend with their quality players. He asked me to practise with them for the next week. I did so and once again I was asked to play in another game against another team. Although I'm at the level of the team's players, I have to be truly exceptional for them to invest time and money, because they'd be paying for my education and accommodation. I didn't make the team, but I've opened many doors for myself in Belgium soccer with the help of Patrick Di Stafani."

Buoncore says the first thing he's going to do is finish his high school education.

"I have the chance to return to a third division team in Belgium next year if I want, or even a second division team. I'd like to play pro soccer at some point in my life. It's something I've always wanted to do. I dream about it," says Buoncore, who has trained at the National Training Centre in Edmonton, along with other top young soccer prospects from the prairie provinces.

Sons of Italy to Meet Lucania in 2002 MSA Cup Final

August 23, 2002
Old foes meet once again for MSA Cup title, bragging rights

By Paul Turenne of the Winnipeg Fress Press

When Lucania and Sons of Italy Lions square off on the pitch in tomorrow's MSA Cup final, they'll be playing for a lot more than just a trophy.
The winner of the senior men's MSA Cup -- the Manitoba Soccer Association's provincial championship -- will be crowned as Manitoba's top soccer team and will represent the province at the national club championships in St. John's, Nfld., in October.

Besides the silverware, though, the two perennial powerhouses will be playing for pride. The game will be another chapter in their long and intriguing rivalry.

"It's a big-time rivalry and it's always been there since I started with this team," said Lucania midfielder Serge Bohemier, who's now in his fifth season with the team.

"We always end up meeting them in big games. We want to win, and they want to win."

"It's a healthy rivalry. It keeps both teams trying to improve, so it's a good thing," said Tony Nocita, a defender with Sons of Italy who has been involved with the team since its establishment in 1995. Nocita, a former Winnipeg Fury and national team player, said the two teams have a friendly rivalry that doesn't exist off the field, contrary to what some people believe.

When the teams kick off 6 p.m. tomorrow at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex, Lucania will be playing for an unprecedented fourth straight MSA Cup title and ninth since 1987. Lucania has also won the national championship twice, in 1987 and 2000.

Most of the 2000 national championship team is still intact and will be looking to repeat the feat this year.

But first they'll have to get by Sons of Italy who will be seeking their fourth title and are appearing in their seventh cup final in eight years.

Since the team was formed in 1995, they have only missed the MSA Cup finals once.

Lucania and Sons of Italy met once in the regular season of the Manitoba Major Soccer League's premier division. Lucania won the game 5-1 but it was only the third game of the season for both teams. Lucania's Damian Rocke said that with injuries and new signings, both teams have changed significantly since that match in early June. Nocita said his team is now more mature and in better shape than it was in June, and proved it by beating Sokol 5-0 in the MSA Cup quarter-finals two weeks ago.

Sokol, at 13-0, are in first place in the MMSL's premier division, and have a goal differential of plus-52. Still, Rocke wasn't surprised to see Sokol fall to Sons of Italy because the Lions are an experienced, hard-working team with arguably the province's best goalkeeper in Steve Sawatzky.

Buoncore to Belgium

August 18, 2002
Sixteen year old South End United, and Sons of Italy reserve team member, Frank Buoncore, is on his way to Belgium, to spend time with youth programs of some of Belgium's top professional clubs. Buoncore having just returned from the National All-Stars competition in Newfoundland, will be looking to take his soccer game to a new level.

Buoncore is an extremely hard worker and shows great promise at his youthful age of 16. His tremendous skill has not gone unnoticed and he will spend the next several weeks in Belgium doing what he loves most, playing the game of soccer.

The entire Sons of Italy organization wishes Frank all the best in his soccer future.

Nocita Honoured by Italian Community

July 21, 2002
In honour of his numerous achievements in the Winnipeg soccer community and nationally, Sons of Italy team member, Tony Nocita, was recently honoured by the Italian community.

During an evening of celebration, the Italian community recognized Nocita by naming the new field at the Italian Cultural Centre,'The Tony Nocita Soccer Pitch'.

Nocita thanked the many people that helped him along the way including many family, friends, and past coaches and teammates.

Nocita was also recently named Head Coach of the Calgary Storm, PDL team, and the Assistant Coach of the Calgary Storm, A-League side.

Nocita continues to be an integral part of the Sons of Italy lineup. His experience in coaching has been important in the development of many of Manitoba's aspiring young soccer players.