U Sports Soccer: Ziggy-Zaggy Zomparelli

The Ryerson Rams have a wealth of skill in their midfield. There have been several positive moments for the Rams midfield over the course of the season thus far, but it seems they have the most success in their midfield when the Rams second string comes on. A creative midfield is what the Rams need in order to find further success. Having the depth the Rams have this year, their midfield is definitely one of their strengths.

The Rams women’s team are coming off a frustrating loss against their crosstown rivals the University of Toronto. However, there were a few bright spots, one of them was the 30-minute appearance of second-year midfielder Chloe Zomparelli.

Now in her sophomore season, Zomparelli has more experience- having a year of OUA gameplay under her belt. In 2018, the hometown girl appeared in 13 matches for the Rams, scoring her inaugural in those games.

Coming from an Italian father who played professionally, she played soccer from the moment she could walk. Her father, Giacomino Zomparelli played collegiately in Hartford, Connecticut, before moving overseas to pursue his career in the Italian professional ranks. Following in her father’s footsteps she is chasing her professional and academic dream’s by playing at the collegiate level.

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In her first year at Ryerson, the Italian-Canadian was enrolled in the Regional and Urban Planning program. While soccer gave her joy, the program not so much; reason as to why she switched into something more passionate for her second year. Now in RTA Sport Media, her soccer knowledge and skill complement each other in both athletics and academics.

“Playing collegiately was a goal of mine from a young age, and now being able to pursue my passion academically, I am really happy,” said Zomparelli when speaking to 49.

She spent a decade with the Woodbridge Strikers before coming to the Rams. When with the Strikers, her team was ranked second-best nationally, and with that she has gotten several national-level experiences, allowing her to mesh well with the OUA circuit.

Her playing style is one that is crucial to any team who hopes to have a distinguished transitional game. On the ball, she showcases calmness and her ability to control which is above average compared to many of her OUA counterparts, although off the ball is where she changes the game.

“Through my youth, I focused on learning the best runs and positioning. Whether it is putting myself in a better position to get the ball, or just drawing a defender out of position- my moves off the ball are always calculated.”

In her 30 minutes against the Varsity Blues, she put on a show of what to do off the ball. There were multiple times where she was in a prime goalscoring position but was not played from her teammates. It is still fairly early in the OUA season, so the chemistry will come- and when it does, the rest of the Ontario will have to watch out for the offensive enigma that is Zomparelli.

Coming from the Woodbridge club, the midfielder never opted to join a professional academy such as the national Whitecaps FC women’s REX program. While the Strikers may not have had the best facilities or a similar cache to the Whitecaps, the program proved her well. And now seeing what the Whitecaps women’s program is going through, both legally and on the pitch- it is clear she made the right decision.

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With her on-field experience, family heritage and off-field thoughtfulness, it is clear that she is an enviable player to many schools. However, there are many more interesting aspects of her life. One of her close friends also came to Ryerson, and the two have many similarities. Chris Castillo is also in the same program, also from Toronto and is even on the men’s soccer team. He was recruited the same year as Zomparelli, and the two have grown closer while attending the same school; although they have known each other for over eight years, their intertwining Ram’s athletics lives have helped them continue their valuable friendship.

The major difference between the two in their development was the professional club experience that Castillo has. Playing with the Toronto FC Academy, Castillo has been nationally recognized and opted to play collegiately when his professional dream did not materialize immediately.

When comparing the two friends, the inequality of opportunities within Canada is highlighted. For Castillo, the potential of being drafted into the Canadian Premier League is a possibility, whereas Zomparelli has no female professional pathway in Canada.

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The CPL has mentioned their wishes towards launching a women’s league, but with the men’s league only kicking off in 2019- it could be a while until the same professional opportunities are there for women.

“It doesn’t change my mentality towards the game, there’s the NWSL in the USA (National Women’s Soccer League) if I’m good enough- and I’ll have a degree as well,” Zomparelli said when asked about the professional opportunities in her future.

Whether the OUA is the highest level Zomprelli will ever reach, or if she breaks into the professional picture, she is embracing her current situation and is doing her best to bring a U Sports title back to Dundas Square. With her impressive short appearances throughout the season, we hope to see more of Zomparelli as she brings a ball of fire and desire onto the field for her teammates to feed off of.

The joy and success she has gained from soccer are unparalleled by anything else in her life. Soccer has long been spoken about as “The Beautiful Game,” and for the Ryerson Sophmore- the game has brought beauty to her life, hence the nickname “The Beautiful Game.”

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