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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
L.U. - Nipissing soccer match-ups even more key than normal
by Randy Pascal

The OUA (Ontario University Athletics) rivalry soccer match-ups between the Nipissing Lakers and Laurentian Voyageurs always seem to carry a fair bit of importance with regards to the East Division playoff races for both the men's and women's teams.

Given the early season results to date, however, the home and home tête a tête later this week is likely far more critical than usual for coaches Rob Gallo and Carlo Castrechino and their troops.

With stops in both North Bay and Sudbury on the same road trip a natural for the OUA schedule-maker, it's no surprise that the Lakers and Voyageurs soccer squads will mirror one another in terms of the opponents they have faced at any given point in time in the fall.

And while both groups are only three or four games into the 2018 campaign, the fact that Nipissing has picked up points where Laurentian has not, on both the men's and women's sides of the equation, leaves the L.U. tandem trying to play catch-up to a school that is typically right there in the mix with the locals, battling it out for a post-season berth.

The Voyageur men are perhaps a little better off, despite having returned from Kingston with just a single point, playing to a 1-1 draw with the RMC (Royal Military College) Paladins (Kristian Shuttleworth with L.U. tally), but blanked 2-0 on Sunday versus the Queen's Gaels.

The Nipissing men fared better, and were luckier, as Queen's forfeited their game on Saturday against the Lakers, with the northern crew making it a six point weekend by virtue of a 3-0 win over RMC.

While these results have propelled the Laker men nicely into fourth place (2-1-0 = 6 pts), Laurentian finds itself tied with RMC for the sixth and final playoff spot, the Voyageurs at 0-2-1, with the Paladins at 0-1-1.

The key, for the L.U. lads, has been the struggles of the UOIT Ridgebacks, sharing the same 0-4-0 stat-line as the Trent Excalibur - not to mention the fact that the Ottawa Gee Gees do not currently field a men's soccer team.

That's not quite the case on the women's side, where Laurentian (0-2-2 = 2 pts) sits in eighth, behind a group that includes UOIT (1-3-0 = 3 pts), Carleton (1-2-1 = 4), Ryerson (1-1-1 = 4) as well as a Nipissing side that is looking awfully good these days (2-1-1 = 7).

In Kingston, the Voyageur ladies tied RMC 1-1 (Mia De Gasperis with the goal), before falling 4-1 to Queen's (Megan Chiovitti), while Nipissing earned a split, doubled up by the Gaels (4-2) but whitewashing RMC 2-0.

All of which adds up to just a little extra scrutiny when the Voyageurs travel to North Bay Friday night for games at 5:00 p.m. and 7:15 p.m., returning home to host the Lakers Sunday at the L.U. field, game times at noon and 2:15 p.m.

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