Know Your Athlete, Sports

Know Your Athlete: Ludovyck Ciociola

The exceptional play of first-year goalkeeper Ludovyck Ciociola was a bright spot for Redbirds soccer fans during a disappointing 2–8–4 season. After a successful stint at Collège Ahuntsic, the rookie from Montreal North capped off his debut season at McGill by earning a spot on both the RSEQ all-rookie team and the U-SPORTS all-rookie team. This provincial and national level recognition cements Ciociola as a name to watch in the Canadian university soccer circuit. The McGill Tribune sat down with Ludovyck to discuss his accomplishments and to hear about his path to McGill.

A four (or maybe five, his memory failed him here) year-old Ciociola began playing soccer in his neighbourhood under the guidance of his number-one fan––his mother.

“Honestly, my mom put me in because it was the most popular sport in Montreal North. Since I can remember, I liked it, so I’ve just continued,” the keeper told the Tribune

It wasn’t until a few years later, however, that Ciociola started standing between the posts. The transition from the outfield was seamless as the youngster slid into his new position with ease. With a game inspired by Barcelona’s Marc-André ter Stegen, the Redbirds keeper has the skill set of a modern goalkeeper: Excellent footwork, fast reflexes, and solid passing abilities.

Ciociola’s success this season comes after overcoming persistent doubt in his playing abilities early on. 

“For a long time, I didn’t have self-confidence as a keeper,” Ciociola said. “From U13 to U17, I didn’t have the confidence to play AAA [the highest level in Quebec] [….] After U17, I just made the jump to AAA, and I won the golden glove in my only AAA season. I was invited to try out for semi-pro. I made the semi-pro team, so when I got over that mental block, it really started working out.”

Early in the Redbirds’ season, Ciociola had a brilliant stretch of play, showcasing incredible poise against some high-quality teams. 

“We faced [Université de Québec à Trois-Rivières] at home on Friday and won 1-0, then Sunday we went to Laval and [tied] 1-1,” Ciociola said. “I played excellent games on an individual level in the two matches. And, after that week, I won McGill athlete of the week, RSEQ athlete of the week, and U-SPORTS athlete of the week.” 

However, the triumph didn’t last long. McGill’s early success ground to a halt after the team failed to pick up points in five out of the last six contests. Nevertheless, Ciociola had plenty of positive experiences throughout his first year with the Redbirds. 

“[I want to give a] shoutout to Mika [Michael Palomo], I met him this summer when I joined Blainville to play semi-pro, and I found that he really helped me become more aware of goalkeeping tactics,” the keeper said.

After getting the first-ever red card of his career against Sherbrooke on Sept. 15, Ciociola wanted to clear up what really happened and to emphasize the support from his team. 

“It wasn’t really a red card; the ball hit my face. That was the one time I was actually mad [….] A coach, Pierre [Lepage], came to see me on the bench and told me they were going to win for me, and we did win, 2-0.” 

Ciociola also expressed gratitude for senior goalkeeper Chris Cinelli-Faia as the veteran guided him through his first season.

“There’s the team, and then there are the goalies, who form a sort of team inside the team,” Ciociola explained. “Chris has been there all season, talking, giving advice. If I had something to ask, I would see him. You can say he took me under his wing. Chris wrote a paper on penalties and how you should move as a keeper […] but I haven’t applied his paper findings yet.”

During the offseason, the Redbirds keeper will be keeping busy by cheering on Les Bleus in their World Cup defence while attending his first-year management classes and weekly team training.

*The interview was translated from French by the author.

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