By Ron Guillet
The Laurentian Voyageurs’ soccer team struggled to add points in the standings during a crucial run for a home playoff spot, but the team looks to rebound as they near the end of the regular season on Oct. 21.
The Voyageurs began their three-game homestand against the Carleton Ravens, ranked second in the OUA East, on Sunday, Oct. 7. The Ravens were relentless from the onset, dominating possession and forcing Laurentian into their own end. Andrew Latty opened the scoring in the 9th minute after he buried a rebound past Laurentian goalkeeper Matt George. Joey Kewin provided another goal for the Ravens in the 18th minute before Latty found the back of the net again just three minutes later to score the brace and put his team up 3-0. The Voyageurs entered the second half with more resiliency and defensive awareness, looking for the unlikely comeback. Aaron Reeves managed to score for the Voyageurs in the 76th minute on a penalty kick, but their second half efforts weren’t enough as they were defeated 3-1 and dropped to sixth in the East, holding on to the final playoff spot.
Looking to gain some ground in the standings, the Voyageurs took on the RMC Paladins on Saturday, Oct. 12. The Paladins dominated possession from the onset and had the Voyageurs on their heels. Laurentian conceded a goal in the 8th minute after a close range volley beat goalkeeper George and provided RMC with the 1-0 lead. Laurentian showed some desperation after the goal and Ian Wolfe provided the equalizer with a header from inside the box that beat the Paladins goalkeeper. Both teams had ample scoring opportunities in the second half but it was captain Davor Alisic who had the best chance, connecting with a shot from 25 yards out that rang off the crossbar. The game ended 1-1 with both teams picking up a point in the draw.
On Sunday, Oct. 14, the Voyageurs were up against the top team in the OUA East, the Queen’s Gaels, on a rain-soaked turf. Laurentian were aggressive right away and kept up with the Gaels, although both teams struggled to connect passes as the wet field was unpredictable. Laurentian midfielder Stephen Fattore struck first after he took a shot from outside the box that curled around the Gaels goalkeeper and snuck in the left side of the net. Dieri Drame came close to adding to the lead when Liam Dougherty delivered a cross and Drame headed the ball just wide. The Gaels got the equalizer, however, after Queen’s defender Matthew Kennedy was the fortunate recipient of a shot that slid through goalkeeper George’s arms and right to Kennedy’s foot, who tucked it in the empty net. The Voyageurs displayed strong defensive play in the second half but couldn’t produce any offense as the Gaels had four shots on target in the final 45 minutes while Laurentian had none. The Voyageurs couldn’t fend off the Gaels any longer, as Lucas Lobo scored his second of the game in the 70th minute, which was followed up by two more Queen’s goals within 13 minutes.
The Voyageurs are three points removed from fourth place with two games remaining. No matter the outcome, Laurentian has locked up a playoff spot in sixth place, as the seventh place Trent Excalibur are nine points behind.
Laurentian will close the regular season on the road against the Ryerson Rams and the Toronto Varsity Blues on Oct. 20 and 21, respectively.