While the race for top spot in the Sudbury Regional Soccer Association men's soccer loop might be closer than in previous years, Croatia Adria left no doubt as to who the team to beat remains at this time.
In an early season battle of unbeaten teams, Adria received a first-half goal from Michael Asunmaa, adding later markers from both Billy Kosar and Jake Santi in picking up a 3-0 win over Sudbury Athletic Voima Tuesday night at Queen's Athletic Field.
Trailing by one early in the second half, Voima missed a couple of chances to pull even, the best of which would see Nick Charlemagne sneak through the Adria back line on a throw-in, missing short side on his attempt to beat goaltender Connor Griffiths.
From that point on, Croatia Adria took control. After Adria newcomer Shawn Wilcox slipped a shot just wide of the far left post, the Sudbury Athletic keeper was forced to make a big save, denying Derek Huffels all alone in tight.
Moments later, Huffels failed to connect on a lovely feed from Fal Diasso, though the ensuing corner kick produced some insurance. The kick sailed past the glut of bodies near the middle of the net, directly to Kosar who re-directed it perfectly with a clean header.
Some 10 minutes later, Santi completed a three-way passing play, finding a seam and slipping the sphere into the far corner of the net. One final opportunity to break the goose egg was drilled wide right, as Stephane Legrand pulled the trigger, left-footed, from 25 yards out.
A force with his efficient ball movement through the middle of the pitch, Laurentian Voyageurs most improved player, Matt Dykstra, is not all that surprised with the on-going success his team continues to enjoy in the summer loop.
"It's been the same core group for a bunch of years now," Dykstra noted. "We've got a lot of alumni from university and whatnot, and we know what everyone is doing. We were missing a few bodies tonight, and we've got a new keeper in net in Connor Griffiths."
With the five-team league creating an environment where challenges with regular adversaries are common, Dykstra notes that overall team discipline is one of the keys for any of the SRSA squads.
"Everyone played hard, but not too many cards, which was nice to see," he said. "If people keep their mouths shut, we're usually pretty good."
The late encounter proved no contest as soon to be Michigan State Spartan Michael Marcantognini netted four goals in his return to Sudbury, leading the Italia Flyers to a 5-0 win over Sudbury Athletic Fury.
The league takes a night off on Thursday, with an alumni game slated for James Jerome at 7 p.m., though the kickoff of the World Cup might make it difficult to attract an abundance of talent.
Play resumes with another solid matchup as Croatia Adria and the Italia Flyers go toe to toe Tuesday night at 7 p.m., with Sudbury Athletic Voima (2-1) battling Sudbury United FC (1-1) in the late game.