Rams midfielder leads team back to the top

LOOKING TO BARCELONA: Raffaele Nesci of Etobicoke CI picks FC Barcelona midfielder Carles Puyol as his inspiration for soccer because of his smaller stature as a centerback and his tenacity.

Coach cites team chat after first few games for recovery

When it comes to on-field presence, Etobicoke Rams midfielder Raffaele Nesci is no black sheep.

With his squad dropping their first two games of the season to Vaughan Road and Silverthorn, it was dependent on the grade 11 student to lead them back to the top of the standings.

As he stood on the sidelines at Centennial Park watching Etobicoke’s junior team claim the West Region title, he was a little disappointed with his senior squad’s slow start.

“I just think we needed to focus more right from the pre-game preparation,” he said. “Just not warming up properly because everyone’s trying to do their own thing.

“After the first two games we started to gel together and play our own game.”

It was a turnaround first-year Rams coach Wendell Straker was impressed by, as it showed maturity.

“What we forgot is we had skilled players, but they were not listening to my directive,” he said. “So when they realized they were at the bottom of the table, we had a nice little chat and they decided they were ready to play the type of soccer that I wanted to play.”

Providing a potent midfield punch along with Nesci is Emmanuel Garcia who has played footie with Argentine squad Boca Juniors.

“They work together, they are hard fighters and when they elevate their games, they inspire the team to play well,” Straker said.

Where Nesci got his talents from can be traced back to his childhood where his father kicked the ball around with him in the backyard.

From there, the next step was Islington Rangers soccer, and his growing respect for FC Barcelona centerback Carles Puyol.

“I like him because he’s pretty small for a centre back and so am I — 5-foot-10 is considered a very small centerback,” Nesci said. “(But) he still can defend guys who are 6’4” defenders.”

Before Nesci reaches new levels of play, he’ll have to finish high school first. Currently in grade 11, he’s definitely seeking a soccer scholarship to an American university.

And he’ll be looking to get Etobicoke back to the Citys, as unfortunately the Rams’ winning streak concluded May 18 with a 5-0 loss to Silverthorn in the West Region final.

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