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Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2018
Voyageur soccer men finally rewarded for the effort
by Randy Pascal

A weekend split that included their first victory of 2017 might not show it, but the Laurentian Voyageurs men's soccer team looked notably better than season opening weekend, in the eyes of their head coach Carlo Castrechino.

After dropping back to back 3-0 affairs in Toronto to both the Ryerson Rams and U of T Blues at the end of August, the Voyageurs travelled to Kingston on Friday, beaten 1-0 by the Queen's Gaels on Saturday and claiming a 2-0 triumph over the RMC (Royal Military College) Paladins on Sunday.

"We deserved a better fate against Queen's," suggested Castrochino. "We gave up a penalty shot in the first minute of the game and were down 1-0 (goal scored by Jacob Schroeter). Right after that, we carried the play, created many chances, more than we've ever had against Queen's the last couple of years."

"We just weren't able to score," Castrechino added. "I thought we deserved a draw, but we have to put the ball in the back of the net." Compounding matters, the visitors sustained injuries to starters Nico Correa (MCL) and Evan Stronach (concussion) against the Gaels, forcing the L.U. crew to rely more heavily on the depth that Castrechino believes he has this year.

"The rookies stepped up and had a really good game against RMC in horrible conditions, rainy and really windy," he said. "I'm very happy with the way that we played, the effort we gave." The first two Laurentian markers of the fall would come courtesy of Dean Pizolinas and Zef Kraja, with keeper Connor Vande Weghe posting the clean slate.

Truth be told, Castrechino was not necessarily all that disapointed with the performance of his lads, even against two of the province's top teams in week one action. "The weekend before, we played well, but not for 90 minutes," he said.

"We had a few lapses in both games. We got caught in a few mistakes, and good teams like Toronto and Ryerson will capitalize on those mistakes." The team will now enjoy far more time spent in practices than games, with the Nipissing Lakers making a visit to Sudbury this coming Saturday (September 9th), before the Voyageurs hosted both Queen's and RMC at home the following weekend.

Needing to mount some sort of offensive production against the top end teams, Castrechino and staff are fully aware of the likely focus at team workouts this week. "We've executed, but we haven't put the ball in the net," he reiterated.

"This week, we'll stress finishing, the need to convert around the 18 yard box. We missed opportunities in both games to get more goals and earn a tie against Queen's." With the injuries in play, freshmen Jacob Gramenega, Roman Lovrencec and Carver Grenon have all seen significant minutes, more than holding their own.

In fact, even with a record of 1-3-0, Castrechino is not at all dissuaded in pursuing the same goal with which the team opened regular season play just 15 days ago. "I think we should be battling for third or fourth spot in the East, but it will be tough," he said.

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