"Our team knew today was a must win. We had to get it done," stated Voyageurs' forward Mia de Gasperis, as she described the mentality of the team going into their Saturday contest against the Toronto Varsity Blues; that nothing short of a win is acceptable. They would deliver on this promise as the Voyageurs women's soccer team had an outstanding outing on Saturday afternoon when they beat the Toronto Varsity Blues by a score of 1-0 and got back into the playoff race in the East Division.
The Voyageurs dominated the game from the starting whistle by controlling the ball and creating numerous chances in the first half but unfortunately were unable to convert. As the match progressed, the play centred mostly around the Blues' territory as Laurentian pressed on to get on the scoreboard with a barrage of attacks that began to weaken the defensive line of the Rams. Third year forward, Mia de Gasperis was key to Laurentian's offense as she broke through the Blues' defenses with her tremendous speed and set up countless chances. "Mia was absolutely killing it today!" said Rachel Sheppard about her teammate. The first half was highlighted by a number of noteworthy plays from the Vees but one stands out when a marvelous strike from reigning OUA East All-Star midfielder Catherine Rocca towards the crossbar forced the opposing goalkeeper to stretch and make a difficult save but she was unable to hold onto the ball and it fell right at the goal line, almost giving the Voyageurs a one goal advantage. The first half would then come to an end with both teams tied at 0-0.
The second half began the same way the first ended with the Voageurs mounting immense pressure on the opposing net. They would finally find the breakthrough they so desperately craved in the 57th minute when a combination of good play from Laurentian and poor defending from Toronto would give Brianne Rodrigue a breakaway. She would capitalize on this enticing opportunity and very confidently deposited the ball in the net with an assist from Megan Chiovitti. The grave importance of this opening goal was perfectly expressed by veteran Brianne Rodrigue when she said "a lot of relief! We've kind of hit a point in our season where we were really down on ourselves and that just really amped our whole team up. We were really excited that we were up on someone first in the game, usually we would go down and we have to dig ourselves out of a hole and have to get back but being up a goal is probably the best thing you can do in soccer."
With a renewed sense of optimism and a one goal lead, the Lady Vees marched on to get another. Despite relentless pressure, the Voyageurs were unsuccessful in extending their lead but their dominating play ensured that the Varsity blues would not be able to surmount any form of a comeback. Finally, it is important take note of the spectacular performance by Mia de Gasperis who commandeered the Voyageurs offensive onslaught throughout the entirety of the match, leading them to a 1-0 victory.
"We utilized the wings a lot, and that allowed myself, along with Brianne, to be very involved and get a lot of opportunities on goal," said de Gasperis when asked about her play that enabled the team to be this successful.
Rodrigue and de Gasperis, both were also quick to praise their team's performance by saying "today we played probably one of our best games so far in this season, I'd say. We really wanted the ball and we really wanted to score today. We defended well and we kind of played a different formation as our wings didn't defend as much so we had a lot of energy up top," and "everyone was putting in 150% effort, and that made me want to play the best I could for my team. I believe every single player on our team today played with their heart and left everything on the field and it showed. We got the result we deserved and we couldn't be happier. We need to carry this mentality into every game forward."
All in all, the Voyageurs were satisfied with how they performed on Saturday and look to build on this victory Sunday afternoon when they take on the Ryerson Rams at 12pm.