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Net effect will be positive for Aviators

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SCOTT ZERR, Edmonton Sun

Ross Ongaro followed an old rule of business in building the first-year Aviators. The starting point for any team begins in goal and the head coach knew right from the start that he needed a quality 'keeper, particularly with the team putting the focus on defence during its five-game road trip that opened up the Aviators' inaugural season in the A-League.

Jose Luis Campi has fit the bill perfectly for the squad, surrendering just a single goal - and that off a free kick - in Edmonton's first two games. He'll certainly be called upon again as the Aviators face two powerful lineups this weekend. Tonight the Aviators take on the Milwaukee Wave, winners of last year's Central Division, and then tomorrow it's off to Minnesota to tangle with the Thunder.

The early challenges have been no small task for the 32-year-old netminder, but nothing like what he's faced in the past playing in Chile's First Division.

"You can't just step on the field and play for Colo-Colo," explained Ongaro. "There are a lot of steps to take to get there and you must have some kind of pedigree and have accomplished some things to get there."

The Aviators brought in four Chileans who were eager to get out of their domestic league, with the salaries taking dramatic hits in recent seasons. Campi hadn't been seen in person by anyone with the Aviators but the club was given rave reviews and enough video evidence to make a deal.

"To play in the First Division and make the saves in front of 60,000 people, you've got to be a good player," said Ongaro. "Playing in Vancouver was just another game for him. Other goalies might have been very nervous about the moment but he was very calm and he did very well."

Although Campi speaks no English, communication hasn't been a major issue. Midfielder Jaime Lopresti does some interpreting, plus Ongaro is fluent in Italian and understands enough Spanish to get his point across.

Ongaro is toying with the idea of splitting the 'keeper duties during the back-to-back contests which would give Nick Stankov his first assignment of the season. Ex-Driller Jim Larkin should get the nod in net for Milwaukee.

HELPING HANDSOR: With Chris Lemire sidelined due to a hamstring injury and Lopresti suspended for tonight's game (two yellow cards in last week's draw against Seattle), the arrival of former Driller Chris Handsor couldn't have come at a better time. The 32-year-old, who won his third indoor title last week with Baltimore, hasn't played outdoor since 2000 in Vancouver so his duty in the midfield will be limited.

"I won't be able to go a full 90 but I'll give what I can. I'm happy to be back and playing with a group of guys that I wish wouldn't have had to break up in the place," said Handsor, referring to the mid-season collapse of the indoor Drillers.

The realignment puts Sean Fraser outside in the middle and Paul Dhaliwal and Sipho Sibiya as the strikers.

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