Nik Giannotta
During a season of roster changes, in which players came and went, one thing remained consistent for Sigma FC: the defence never rested

When circumstances called for stability, veteran defenders Nik Giannotta and Eric Leal never wavered. Their persistence and reliability from the beginning of the season to the end provided Sigma FC the foundation it needed to win the Ontario Soccer League's Regional East division and win promotion into the Provincial division next season.

Sigma FC clinched the division title with a 2-0 win over GS United on Sunday, Sept. 12th. Winning the division and moving the team into the top OSL loop was a key goal for Sigma Technical Director Bobby Smyrniotis.

"It's nice for the guys it gets us into a higher division of play. Next year it will be a good test for all of our young guys," said Smyrniotis. "[Getting promoted] within two years of forming the club has been a goal. We wanted to get in there."

According to Smyrniotis, the challenge for Sigma FC all season was dealing with the late arrival of players studying in the United States and their subsequent early departure back to their schools in the fall.

Players such as Kyle Bekker (Boston College), Emery Welshman (Siena), Lucas Ferritto (Simon Fraser), Jarrett Hamilton (Oral Roberts) and Nolan Holdridge (Cal State Stanislaus) played key roles for the squad, but could not play all the games due to school commitments. It meant that players from Sigma's A1 (U17) team had to fill in.

"A lot of our A1s (U17), who play on our U21 team have put a lot of minutes in with the seniors during the season," explained Smyrniotis.

With young players in the lineup against stronger, faster competition, it fell on the steadying presence of the team's veteran players to help them perform up to expectations.

Centre back Nik Giannotta, who has pro experience with Hibernian U19 of Scotland, said the young players were quick studies and adjusted well, with a little help from the older players.

"The young guys really stepped in once the college boys left and played well," he said. "It is physically demanding for them, they get bumped off the ball a bit. It takes us -- basically the men on the team -- to step up for the boys."

Manny Morgado
According to right back Eric Leal, who has spent time training at FC Groningen in Holland and is a past member of the Canadian national Under-17 program, the veteran defenders took on a leadership role.

"All season, we were holding the team together, when the younger players came in, it was just like we were setting the example for them," Leal explained.

For players like A1 member Manny Morgado, playing with the men was an important part of his personal development.

"It's a good experience, obviously it is my last year in high school, and it gave me all the experience I needed," said Morgado. "It will obviously open my eyes to the higher lever, the faster level, it was more physical"

Smyrniotis is looking forward to next season in the OSL because the tougher competition will only serve to help the collegiate and senior players development.

Kyle Bekker

Jarrett Hamilton

Emery Welshman

Nolan Holdridge

Manvir Brar

Lucas Ferritto