Chicago Soccer

Despite several last second player withdrawals, a team 0f 15 players managed to return to Chicago in 2011 for the 3rd consecutive year.

The competition was the toughest to date, as our division changed to accommodate some younger teams into the oldtimer section. It was now an >38 yo division, rather than >40. Sounds negligeable but it was not.

While clearly outmatched in several games, we managed to finish second in our division, making it to the semifinal on Sunday. We played our best game of the tournament that morning, especially in the second half. But it was not enough against the team that went on to win in the final.

Apart from the soccer, many took advantage to visit downtown Chicago. The team got together to enjoy some quality food, including authentic Greek cuisine at Greek Taverna on Saturday night and the meats of Texas de Brazil Steak House on Sunday night.

Thanks to everyone for attending, including newcomers Chris, Cheemun and Mario.

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UPDATE (March 24, 2011)

This year, I stepped down as OT6 manager to focus more time on several other projects I am spearheading, including our new summer hockey program (see above) and the Chicago 2011 tournament. Hopefully, thanks to George Orfanos and George Georgiopoulos (new OT6 managers), I won’t be predisposed to another devastating pneumonia following the Chicago tournament this time around… LOL

A preliminary poll of last year’s Ottawa Hellenic FC squad conducted last week (Mar 14th, 2011) shows at least 10 of the 13 local players will be returning for another crack at the “Over 40″ division title. The rest have yet to decide, pending vacation plans, work, injuries, etc.

Preliminary news from my Quebec contacts is that there will likely be a returning contingent from Montreal, the exact nature of which is yet to be determined. I will have a more clear idea as of May.

In addition to last year’s group of players, we have several likely new recruits already:

  1. Andreas Tsarouhas is a highly skilled defender/midfielder who has been anxiously waiting to turn 35 in order to join us in Chicago. Welcome aboard Andrea !!!
  2. Chris Giannou, from OT2, is a good friend of mine from my prior days in OT6 to OT4. He is one of the most skilled and soccer savvy players in Ottawa and a class act of a human being. While his schedule did not permit him to join us last year, he is enthusiastically hopeful that he can secure the time off this time around.
  3. Mario Carlini, from St-Anthony’s OT1, a friend of Angelo D. and John K., was also unable to join us last year but has recently expressed renewed interest for 2011.
  4. Several new, highly-skilled players are likely to join us from Montreal as well.

I am also waiting on preliminary replies from several other Ottawa-based players.

Below is the link to this year’s tournament. There is a short promotional video clip as well, featuring our own John Moutsatso, preparing for an on-coming attack.

http://www.greeksoccer.com/tournament/

If you know of a skilled and relatively well-conditioned over 40 y.o. Greek soccer player, whom teammates and a manager would consider “low-maintenance” on and off the field, please let me know or have them contact me directly at greekoldtimer@gmail.com.

Recruitment is EVERYBODY’s responsibility !!!

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John Kosmas, from www.greeksoccer.com, has been organized a very successful annual soccer tournament in Chicago, IL for the last 5 years. It ALWAYS occurs on Labor day weekend and participating teams travel from all over North America. Interestingly, about half the teams come from Canada, many from Ontario.

The picture on our website’s header was our 2010 team. The participants had nothing but great things to say about this wonderful trip for a weekend of soccer in the USA.

As we plan ahead for 2011, I have posted the team pictures and tournament write-ups for 2009 and 2010 below, to get everyone’s excitement for this trip re-kindled….. Enjoy !!!

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CHICAGO 2010:

Rejuvenated Ottawa Hellenic FC rocks Chicago soccer tournament in 2010

For the second consecutive summer, a local team travelled to the United States on Labor Day weekend to participate in an international Greek soccer tournament. John Kosmas and his gang at www.greeksoccer.com set the stage for another exhilarating weekend of soccer in Chicago, which once again, delivered the goods.

Last year, our over 40 team managed to finish 4th place out of 5 teams, with only 14 players on its roster, all from Hellenic OT6. Following the tournament, it was clear that the team’s Achilles’ heal was: 1) a short bench, 2) overall team physical conditioning and, 3) overall team skill. The Chicago tournament is a MARATHON of soccer (5-6 games over 48 hours) against highly skilled soccer players, many of which were born in Greece.

In July, Demetri Papadatos was approached by some of his most skilled OT6 players who wanted another crack at the Chicago tourney title, this time demanding a higher quality contingent. The manager went to work immediately, approaching several high quality players over the next few months. While recruitment did not cease till just a few days prior to departure, the final product was a solid team capable of overcoming last year’s shortcomings.

Ottawa Hellenic FC (2010 edition) was composed of 17 players, half of which were attending the tournament for the first time. Newcomers included star strikers Tony Georgiou, Kleo Hapitas and Peter Tzivanopoulos, as well as highly skilled midfielders Evan Tiniakos, Sotiri Selaidopoulos and George Kaldis from Montreal. Bill Sioulas and George Makris were pleasant surprise additions to the 9 returning OT6 players (see team picture).

The team met up for the first time in the Marriott Hotel lobby just a few hours prior to their first game Friday night. The new players were introduced and team strategies were discussed. Players had a 1 hour practice prior to first game to start to recognize each other’s abilities. It became quite clear to all returning players that this year’s team was much stronger and destined to make some noise.

The over 40 division consisted of 7 teams, including the defending Champions from New York city, 2 teams from Chicago, 2 teams from Toronto and a team from Gary, Indiana. Ottawa Hellenic FC faced its toughest opponents in their first 3 games. All three games were close fought battles that could have gone either way. But the team fell short due to growing pains on a team with unfamiliar faces. Fortunately, the team improved from one game to the next. By Sunday morning, the line-up was tweaked to take advantage of each player’s talents and the rest was history.

After losing its first 3 games by a narrow margin of error, Ottawa Hellenic FC dominated its next 3 opponents. First off, they beat the defending champions from New York, 3-1, dominating the entire game. Then they returned to the field a few hours later to beat the new and improved team from Gary, Indiana, 7-1 (the largest margin of victory in the tournament). Finally, Toronto Hellenic, forced to recruit players from another team to compete, fell 3-0.

It took a full 24 hours but the team finally bonded, looking like Barcelona FC at times. The team finished the tournament tied for 3rd place. The true measuring stick of their ability to compete in this year’s tournament came during their match against the eventual champions, PAOK, from Toronto. While they were tied with PAOK most of the match, they lost a nail-biter in the last few minutes of the game.

General consensus was that if a few bounces would have gone Ottawa Hellenic’s way in their first 3 matches, they could have easily finished in 1st place. Next year perhaps…

Socially speaking, the players had a blast. Most traveled on similar flights and rented cars together. The players enjoyed several team functions including great dinners at “Greek Taverna” Friday night, Blue-Fire Grill Saturday night and a Brazilian Steak House on Sunday night. They also spent time autonomously sight-seeing and/or shopping in the great city of Chicago on Saturday morning.

The overall feedback from the team’s players at the end of the tournament was outstanding, many stating that they cannot wait to come back in 2011 to win the title.

With that in mind, here goes… If you are a skilled, well-conditioned over 40 year old soccer player, whom a manager would consider “low-maintenance” on and off the field, please contact Demetri at dpapadatos@hotmail.com for our 2011 team. “OPA” !!!

CHICAGO 2009:

Last year’s best performing O.H.A.A. soccer team was back in 2009 for its second consecutive Delis Cup Championship and 1st international soccer tournament. While O.H.A.A. fields several excellent adult soccer teams, Hellenic OT6 had the disctinct honour of acquiring the best final record within their respective OCSL division in 2009.

After a strong 2008 season, Hellenic OT7 was promoted up a level to OT6. While a few team members expressed concern about the team’s ability to compete at this higher level, a vote was held which overwhelmingly supported the move. This summer, the team responded well to the challenge, finishing in 3rd place overall with a very respectable 11-3-1 record, a +20 goal differential and 7 shutouts.

Hellenic OT6 started off with 2 pre-season outdoor games in early May with an OT7 and an OT5 team, to get their weary bodies back into outdoor soccer mode. This resulted in a great start to the season, with three consecutive shutout wins. But then came a 0-3-1 stretch when most of their midfielders were missing due to injuries and vacations to Greece. When the midfield was back about a month later, Hellenic OT6 finished the season with 8 consecutive victories.

With an ambition to put Ottawa Hellenic Soccer on the map beyond its OCSL confines, team manager Demetri Papadatos decided to bite the bullet and register a team for the 4th annual Hellenic Soccer Tournament in Chicago, IL, USA. OT6 players were notified in June, giving them over 2 months notice. This allowed him to recruit about half of the team (12 players). At least 10 other old-timer players from other teams were approached but, given the cost (about $1000/player), recruitment of outsiders proved nearly impossible. After completing the roster with another two of his friends from Montreal, 14 players flew west to Chicago to proudly represent our region. This was quite an accomplishment, given that the tournament was being held 1300 km away, a distance matched only by a New York team in our division.

The team played in an > 40 years of age division, with strong teams from New York, Chicago, Toronto and Gary (Indiana). With only 3 subs on the bench (as opposed to 8-12 for all their opponents), they played four 60 minute games in 24 hours and managed a 1-2-1 record. Ironically enough, with their energy reserves and hopes to make the playoffs dwindling over time due to fatigue, this team saved their best performance for last. After rallying back to tie Toronto with 5 minutes left in game 2 of the tournament, the team mounted an even greater comeback in their last round robin game, eliminating the team from Gary, Indiana with a 3-2 victory, after being down 2-0 in the first 10 minutes of play.

With nothing left in the tank on Sunday, and even less on the bench due to injuries, Ottawa Hellenic lost its bronze medal (rematch) game to Toronto. Hellenic OT6′s # 1 motto in OCSL soccer, ensuring plenty of subs for any given game, turned out to be its Achilles’ heal in Chicago. One of the team’s best performances came in game # 1 on Friday night, when they were least fatigued, losing 2-0 to the Championship team from New York, a team that had been playing together for 25 years, had a full time coach and an ex-Cypriot National Soccer Team player running the show in center midfield.

Having said this, the players who made it down to Chicago had an absolutely unforgettable weekend at a remarkably well organized tournament.  After a team lunch on Friday afternoon, team dinners were held in Greek Town on Friday night, the host hotel on Saturday night and at the end-of-tournament Gala on Sunday night. Several players hit the windy city’s downtown area for boat tours of Chicago’s world renowned architecture during some down time on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Pictures from this trip can be found at https://cid-563ef47cbba4861b.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Chicago%20Tournament/20090908^_56.JPG . Thank you Pantazi, Demetri, Nick and Kyri for your contributions to this album !

While many players had strong seasons again this year, several honourable mentions deserve to be noted. First off, kudos to the players that could not make it out to Chicago but stayed behind to play a game that Friday night. They refused to default to a team that denied our request to reschedule this game. With the help of several spares, they won 4-0, a testament to the quality and determination of the players that stayed behind and a ray of light for our ability to improve our roster for next year’s Chicago tournament. Speaking of which, a sincere thank you to all 14 players who committed time away from their friends and families and a significant amount of money (including Chris and Louis Roufos from Montreal) to make our presence in the Chicago Tournament a reality and a huge success. Bravo “pethia” !!!

Congratulations to our two strikers, Kleo and Pantazi, for winning the 2009 Hellenic Scoring Race with 11 goals each (matched only by one other player who reportedly scored 7 goals in one game). Lastly, hats off to Angelo Damianakos for coming into camp in excellent condition, after an injury plagued season last year and, with a renewed sense of purpose. He truly exemplified the character of this team, accepting to play any position asked of him when we were short, with a smile on his face. The pinnacle of his season was reached in Chicago, where he led his team into battle on and off the field. His play and leadership were particularly evident when our playoff fate was on the line and he managed to score one and help setup both other goals in a 3-2 come from behind win. He sacrificed body (suffering hard tackles and injuries after several kamikaze-style attempts at defending) and soul (letting his teammates know when their on-the-field sportsmanship was intermittently lacking) in order to ensure that the Chicago trip remained a positive experience for all involved.

CONGRATULATIONS Hellenic OT6 ! Thank you for doing your small part in putting Hellenes back on the forefront of soccer in Ottawa and North America. Best of luck next season !!!

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