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Late game drama prevalent at L.U. soccer pitch

Late game drama was the theme of the weekend for both Laurentian soccer teams as the Voyageurs were at home for a second straight weekend in the still young 2019 OUA season.

Battling the third ranked team in the country tooth and nail, the L.U. men withstood the challenges of the Carleton Ravens until just into injury time, when Gabriel Bitar broke the hearts of the assembled Sudbury crowd, finding the back of the net off a direct kick in the 93rd minute.

While it was clear that Carleton controlled much of the contest, the Voyageurs persisted defensively, with keeper Adam Scanlon proving himself more than worthy to step directly into the shoes vacated by perennial Laurentian all-star Connor Vande Weghe.

Desperately needing to salvage at least one point to remain in good standing in what promises to be another tough playoff race, coach Carlo Castrechino and company were unflustered facing the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks the next afternoon, this despite spotting the visitors a breakaway goal in the 60th minute from Jean Paul Ajala-Alexis.

With time winding down, the Voyageurs turned the tables on their Saturday match, netting the equalizer versus the Ridgebacks in the 90th minute to improve their season record to 1-2-1 (four points).

A long throw-in into the box from Brandon Moxam found the feet of Nick Esperanca, who drilled home the goal that allows Laurentian to remain tied with the Nipissing Lakers (1-1-1) in fourth place in the East Division of the OUA, just two points ahead of Ontario Tech (0-1-2).

The Voyageurs now take to the road for four straight games covering three consecutive weekends, beginning with a trip to the nation's capital to complete the back end of the home and home with the undefeated Ravens (4-0-0) next Sunday afternoon.

As for the Laurentian women, things were again looking bleak for rookie coach Brian Ashton and the homeside, trailing Ontario Tech 2-0 at the half on goals from Brogyn Tracey and Sarah Foster, both in the opening twenty minutes of play.

But a costly red card to Ridgebacks' keeper Olivia Tierney in the 32nd minute opened the door to an L.U. comeback, with the visitors playing the balance of the contest one player down. Ironically, the call was essentially the same exact foul that cost Laurentian the services of goaltender Heather McGregor just one week earlier against Trent.

Though Megan Chiovitti would narrowly miss the ensuing penalty kick, the momentum had started to shift, as the Voyageurs netted their first goal of the 2019 campaign courtesy of Amanda Cuthbert in the 50th minute, booming a drive off the goalpost and in to narrow the deficit to just one.

With just minutes to play until the final whistle, a wild scramble that ensued from a well-placed cross courtesy of rookie Megan Short was eventually deposited into the net by Kaylee Spridgeon, yet another of the first year Voyageurs.

The local women, who still face a steep uphill climb to try and battle for a playoff spot, will take their 0-2-1 record (tied for 8th place) record on the road, as well, next weekend.

The Voyageurs are sure to be in for a battle on Saturday, taking on the top-ranked U Sport team in the form of the Ottawa Gee Gees (3-0-1), before engaging in what should be a more winnable game Sunday against the Carleton Ravens (0-2-1).

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