By Ron Guillet
The Laurentian Voyageurs’ soccer team had a slow start to the Ontario University Athletics season, but displayed team chemistry and perseverance as they battled their way to the OUA semi-finals before the Carleton Ravens ended their season.
The Voyageurs finished 6-4-4 and ranked fifth in the East division, but went 5-1-2 in its final eight games, including the two playoff games, to end the season on a high note. The Voyageurs’ top scorer was Dieri Drame with eight goals in 12 games, which ranked 10th among the OUA goal leaders.
Voyageurs head coach Carlo Castrechino thought Laurentian improved in areas it struggled with in the past, but acknowledged they must get off to a better start to the season.
“I thought we played better team defence this season and created and scored more goals this year than in the past,” Castrechino said. “I want us to carry that on for next season. Our consistency for 90 minutes could be better and get off to a better start to the season.”
Castrechino said players such as Matt George, Daniel O’Connor, Brian Kavaratzis, Cameron Brooks and Davor Alisic, among others, will be key contributors next season.
Voyageurs captain James Bond, who will not return next season, was satisfied with his final season at Laurentian.
“This season was great,” Bond said. “The guys battled and fought through everything that was thrown their way. We finished with a two point increase on last year, and this is what teams are supposed to do, grow and become more of a threat to the rest of the league.”
Bond thought the Voyageurs lacked focus at times, but that they battled adversity in crucial points of the season.
“I think that one thing our team, and most teams, have trouble with is the level of focus,” Bond said. “This is always tough with university ball because of all the other distractions, like classes and due dates. Having said that I think that when we needed to put our head down and do work, we did.”
Although Bond didn’t achieve the offensive output he had hoped for, he said he developed both on and off the field.
“I only scored once this year and that was a lower than I had aimed for but I think my performance was good,” Bond said. “I was heated at times, but strong. I was able to give back to some rookies and second year guys and learned more about the game and myself in the process, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Bond, who will graduate with a Communications degree after this year, said it is difficult leaving the Voyageurs because he’s developed many relationships and bleeds the game.
“Having to leave is hard for me because I’m walking away from competitive football all together,” Bond said. “I’m not only leaving behind a team, but a great bunch of guys, some of which have become my very best friends.”