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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
Voyageurs making a habit of battling the Blues
by Randy Pascal

The Laurentian Voyageurs men's soccer team closed out regular season play on Sunday, holding the University of Toronto Blues to a 2-2 draw on the road. This coming Wednesday night (Oct 24th), the 6th place Voyageurs (5-9-2) are right back at it, facing the 3rd place Blues (11-4-1) in OUA East Division quarter-final action.

Unfortunately, the recent tie is unlikely to provide much in the way of momentum.

"I don't think people should read anything into it (the Sunday result) at all," said long-time Laurentian head coach, Carlo Castrechino. "They rested a lot of players, we rested many players as well. It was good to see both teams get some young guys in there, get a taste of OUA action."

"It was a pretty exciting game, but I am sure on Wednesday that we will see a different lineup for both teams."

That said, the local side does have reason for optimism, even if they remained winless against Toronto this year, dropping a 2-0 decision, at home, back on September 22nd. "To be honest, we started off very slow," said Castrechino. "I don't think it was a lack of talent or effort. I don't like to make excuses, but we had a tough schedule to start the year, we had some injuries to start the year."

Throw in the distraction of hazing allegations that required a third party investigation that concluded last week, the university confirming that there was no proof of any activities that would cause reason for concern, and the environment for a winning first half season was far from ideal.

In fact, the Voyageurs posted a record of 1-6-1 through the first eight games, closing out the second half far more impressively at 4-3-1. As has been the case, it seems, the past few years, there was also a need for Castrechino to adjust on the fly.

"We did change our formation," he explained. "What we ended with last year, we started this year, and it just wasn't going. We started playing a lot better once we had the formation change. It complemented our style better."

"It's a little more defensive, but we didn't sacrifice a lot offensively," Castrechino continued. "We are still playing the direct game, but instead of playing with more defensive wingers, we keep our central on defense and our wingers are pretty much in attack. It's something that we thought our players would be comfortable with, given the skill set of some of our better players."

That might be true, but we are talking about an opponent that scored 43 goals over the course of 16 regular season games, more than doubling the Laurentian total of twenty-one. "They are very strong offensively and very skilled, so we're going to have to keep a tight defense and hope to catch them on a counter attack," said Castrechino.

According to the talented former striker, his team is completely healthy heading into post-season play.

Unfortunately, for the first time in a decade, the Laurentian women will not be continuing play in late October. A 3-0 loss on Saturday to the Ryerson Rams (3-6-7), combined with a 2-2 deadlock against the University of Toronto Blues (5-6-5), was enough to keep the Voyageurs (4-7-5) just barely on the outside of the playoffs, looking in.

Needing a win to qualify on Sunday, the team spotted the Blues a 2-0 first half lead, roaring back with goals from Mia De Gasperis (48th minute) and Kylie Swain (70th), but were unable to get the final tally they so desperately needed.

The contest was the final outing for head coach Rob Gallo, stepping down after guiding the team for their first 19 years of official OUA action (plus an inaugural exhibition season, as well).

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