A late Voyageur charge let them rally from two goals down to secure a vital draw against the Ryerson Rams on Sunday.
It was a tale of two halves. The Rams came out strong, their desire to walk away with three points was clear but the Vees hung in there. Even though Laurentian failed to record any shots on goal in the half, they managed to contain the damage done by the Rams' offense. Natalie Collicutt played a big hand in containing this damage as she had a stellar defensive day on the field. The Rams opened the scoring in the 26th minute when Keira Kent scored on an assist from Maria Poveda. And, just before the conclusion of the first half, the Rams were awarded a penalty kick that was successfully converted by Brooke Pearson for their second goal of the match.
However, the second half was quite the opposite from first. The Voyageurs came out to play as they recorded greater numbers in every aspect of the match: shots on goal, corner kicks and saves. Jocelyne Way made an impressive and important save early in the second half to keep the deficit at 2 and gave her team an opportunity to get back into the game. And, surely, the Vees would not disappoint. In the 76th minute, the Voyageurs were awarded a penalty kick that proved to be the turning point of the match. Veteran midfielder, Megan Chiovitti rose to the occasion and very confidently deposited the ball at the back of the net for the Voyageurs' first tally.
This goal ignited a fire in the Voyageurs as they increased their offensive intensity following the goal. One such example came from Chantae Robinson, whose long range shot forced the opposing goalkeeper to make a sprawling stretch save that earned the Voyageurs a corner kick. However, nothing would come from the resulting corner kick. Then, finally, in the 87th minute, the Voyageurs earned a free kick in a promising area; near the edge of the penalty box. Megan Chiovitti was selected to take the free kick as the Voyageurs and their fans rested all of their hopes on her shoulders.
"I wanted to take the free kick" said Chiovitti.
Chiovitti stood tall and beaming with confidence started her run up and finessed the ball into the top right corner of the net to finish a Christine Sinclair-esque goal. Soon after, to the Voyageurs jubilations, the final whistle blew and the Voyageurs successfully snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat.
"What made us keep going for sure was that penalty kick we got because as soon as we scored that we were like 'we're in the game, okay, we can keep going we can keep pushing'" said Julia Pulente about the her team's mindset following their first goal.
Pulente continued to assess her team's performance and shed a light on what sets them apart from other teams in the league: "It was a bit uneasy in the first half when they scored those two goals. [But] we always had that little extra push. I think we really deserved a win but it's better than losing so I'm glad we got the tie."
Megan Chiovitti had a very sombre tone when talking about her late game heroics: "It was nice to finally score because I haven't scored yet this season and I've been playing more of an attacking role as well now. [The first goal] was off a PK so you really just have to close your eyes and know where you want to put it and put it right there. And the second [goal], similar thing there; they both were off of set plays [and] we really [had] to capitalize and today as you can tell, we got only got two of those opportunities and on both of them, thankfully, I was able to score and ended up tying the game so that was really helpful."
Finally, when asked about next steps in this tight playoff race, Chiovitti said: "I really just think that we need to go out there and we need to win against one of the bigger teams. Today was a pretty big game and we didn't get a win out of it. I'm happy with the tie and I didn't want to go away without any points."
The Voyageurs now sit four points out of a playoff spot and travel to Peterborough and Oshawa next for a pair of key games next weekend as both Trent (in Peterborough) and Ontario Tech (in Oshawa) sit directly above them in a tight playoff race. Their next match is against the Trent Excalibur on Saturday, October 12th at 12 pm.