’97 Nationals capture Quebec-Ontario Cup


There wasn’t much time to celebrate a momentous victory for the talented under 17 Windsor Nationals soccer team after taking the provincial league championship on September 6th. They were more than ecstatic to achieve something no other Windsor team had been able to achieve, being crowned the champions of the highest leveled soccer league in the province, the OYSL (Ontario Youth Soccer League).

Still on an adrenalin high, coach Mike Pio had only one week to plan for another trip, this time all the way in Montreal, Quebec. For the past ten years, the champions of the provincial Ontario and Quebec leagues have come together in October to play in the Quebec-Ontario Cup where the victor would have the bragging rights of being the best inter-provincial league championship team of the two biggest provinces in Canada. Realizing the significance to our local soccer community the Essex County Soccer Association (ECSA) was more than happy to offer their financial support to help cover travel expenses for the very deserving squad who had more important things to focus on.

One more time, after a very long, exhausting, emotional season, the Windsor Nationals made the 900 km trek down the 401. This time they would face a team they knew nothing about, the year older U18 Huntsic Braves, from the Montreal region of Quebec. The affair would consist of two matches; the team with the most points being crowned the inter-provincial champion. On the Saturday, Windsor had to come from behind twice to finish with a well-deserved 2-2 tie against a very physically strong Quebec team with a late goal from mid-fielder Stefan Zastovnikovic. But Team Ontario (Windsor) was very happy with their performance, especially with their ability to stay on course while coming from behind. They were anxious to prove on the Sunday that they were the better of the two teams.

On Sunday, the weather was perfect for soccer. It was a warm, sunny fall afternoon. Although the boys were sore and bruised from the previous day’s battle, the resolve on their faces showed they were ready to finish what they started – win another championship. Once again, the game tempo was back and forth. Then in the 40th minute, striker Noah Pio stripped the ball away from one of the D’Huntic Braves defenders and dribbled down the field and scoring unassisted and giving the Nationals a one to nothing lead – a lead they would not relinquish! Team Ontario’s Windsor Nationals captured the title of Quebec-Ontario Cup champions!

OYSL Champions! ’97 Nationals


One night, in a dusty, old high school gym in the dead of one of the coldest, longest, Winters in Windsor history, the coach of the U17 Windsor Nationals, Mike Pio and his assistant Art Ussoletti were beginning one of their first of many soccer training sessions knowing that preparation would be key for the season they were about to embark upon. The players slowly trickled in to the gym and went through the routines but the coaches were less than excited as they watched their out-of-shape players practice and questioned how they would fare in the highest level youth soccer league in Ontario that coming summer. But the boys being boys – well, they were nothing but very excited to show their stuff!

As many teams in the past from the district club have aspired to achieve, the Under17 Windsor Nationals finished their 2013 season deservedly in first in the level three Western Ontario Soccer League last year excited to be promoted to the highest level of soccer in Ontario, the OYSL (Ontario Youth Soccer League) or Level One as it is also referred. Once in Level One, the goal of our teams is simply to finish with enough points to avoid relegation. But because of the strength of the predominantly Toronto-based teams, Windsor only rarely achieves this goal and often is relegated back down to level three.   The pressure and challenge was on for this team as they had been identified as one of club’s more talented groups to pass through during the past few years.

The stage was set at the season opening kick-off weekend in Toronto in early May when the Windsor Nationals were set to play Ottawa United – a powerhouse team from an internationally recognized club who hadn’t lost a game in the league in two years. The Nationals quickly showed onlookers that they were indeed ready to play at the level defeating Ottawa 1-0 with a very strong showing throughout that game and surprising everyone (but themselves!) there.

The next day, Windsor had to play a newly promoted team with much to prove, the Cataraqui Clippers, whom they easily dismantled 5-1. The coaches and parents were excited to drive back to Windsor 2-0. But there was a cost for the two-win weekend as their star goaltender Michele Catani was injured and suffered a concussion keeping him out of the line-up for the next six weeks. Catani’s teammates, however, stepped up to the challenge, filling in for him and continuing the team’s unbeaten streak to a 4-0 record.

There were a few bumps and roadblocks along the way but the season was winding down quickly and they were quickly realizing they had a chance to win the West division. With an 11-2-3 finish, the team achieved what no other team in Windsor Nationals team history had achieved – they won the West division and were now entered in to the OYSL league championship – not only something that no Windsor team had ever won but also no other non-Toronto team has achieved at that this age level in the league’s 21 year existence. The team in their way was the Woodbridge Strikers whom they tied in regular season play earlier in June. Windsor was excited for the challenge. In the end, in was the stronger defensive back-four of Tobi Taiwo, Jacob Sapardanis, Dredon Kelly, and Matei Colgiu, and Noah Pio’s solo goal that brought home to Windsor, its first ever Level One OYSL league championship. Windsor FC Nationals history had been achieved.

Windsor FC Nationals Unveil New Logo!

WFCN-LogoThe Windsor FC Nationals are pleased to unveil a bold, new logo.

“We had been searching for a more modern, meaningful design over the last few years,” said Justin Carvalho, the club’s Vice President. “It was important to maintain certain aspects that reflect the ongoing vision of the club, which is to provide young athletes in our community the opportunity to develop as soccer players and upstanding citizens of our community.”

Some of those design elements include the prominent use of the club’s nickname, Nationals, and the maple leaf. “These elements reflect our success and continued plan of developing more players for our country’s national team program, as well as leaders in our Canadian community,” Carvalho stated. The logo also include two stars which represent the club’s two provincial championships.

The logo was designed by Sean Hirst, whose son plays with the club. “For this project, I was fortunate to be working with Sean, who volunteered his time to help us,” continued Carvalho. “When he came to us with some ideas, we played around with them and bounced ideas back to him. We are extremely pleased with the result, and I hope this new logo will help to continue inspiring our talented young players.”