2009-04-09 / Community

Oak Park soccer-loving sisters enjoying competing abroad

By John Loesing newstip@theacorn.com

TOP PLAYERS—Aricca and Catiana Vitanza of Oak Park take a break on the soccer field. They recently signed contracts to play in the Italian professional soccer league. The sisters, who have been training in Sardinia since last September, report that life in Italy is "more relaxed." They've also played in Serbia. TOP PLAYERS—Aricca and Catiana Vitanza of Oak Park take a break on the soccer field. They recently signed contracts to play in the Italian professional soccer league. The sisters, who have been training in Sardinia since last September, report that life in Italy is "more relaxed." They've also played in Serbia. Eurospin Torres of the Italian professional women's soccer league recently signed two young American players, 18-year-old Catiana and 19-year-old Aricca Vitanza of Oak Park.

The sisters are enjoying la dolce vita on the island of Sardinia, but their stay isn't just about beautiful beaches and great food. The girls are working hard with their new team to stay atop the standings in the highly competitive Italian league first division.

The Vitanza sisters have been trained since they were in grade school by Zoran Lomic, a former European pro player and current president of the California Stars Soccer Club in Oak Park.

Through his ties to the professional game, Lomic helped the soccer-loving sisters sign with Balkan League powerhouse ZFK Mašinac PZP and later with their current team in Italy.

The Vitanza sisters have been living in Sardinia since September 2008. Sassari, site of the team's training facilities and stadium, is Sardinia's second largest city. It sits on the northwest side of the Mediterranean island.

Life in Italy moves at a more leisurely pace, which took the girls time to get used to.

"Life in Italy is very different from Oak Park," Catiana said. "Life is more relaxed. Work is not the most important thing. People seem to enjoy their life every day.

"Traveling around the world playing soccer has been an incredible experience. There have been people we have met that couldn't even begin to comprehend a life like we had in Oak Park. Now I realize how spoiled we were," Catiana said.

When they're not on the pitch practicing soccer or in the gym working out, they're busy in the classroom trying to learn the Italian language.

"Whenever I get homesick, I just remember how fortunate we are to have this opportunity to experience different parts of the world and play a sport that we love," said Aricca.

The girls grew up in Oak Park and were home-schooled through the school district's Oak Park Independent School.

"Both were straight A students, but their interest was to play pro soccer, not college," Lomic said.

They started playing for the California Stars Soccer Club when they were 9 and 10 years old and stayed with the club until they were 15 and 16.

After playing at Oak Park High School and in Europe for the 2006 season, the sisters returned to the U.S. to play on the Eagles U19 national championship team. In 2007 they left again for Europe to play for ZFK Masinac, the Serbian women's championship team.

"They become really big soccer stars over there, appearing in many newspapers and magazines and TV talk shows to promote women's soccer," said Lomic.

And Lomic said when the girls were tested they turned in the best results of any female pro athletes in Serbian history.

"They are so strong and powerful," Lomic said.

Aricca plays an attacking midfielder and Catiana a defensive midfielder.

For more information about Lomic's local soccer club, visit www.zoransoccer.com. Teams are forming for the 2009-2010 season.

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