By Ron Guillet
The Laurentian Voyageurs hosted their first playoff game since the 2009-10 season as they took on the Toronto Varsity Blues this afternoon in their first round match-up.
Both teams finished the regular season with 20 points and a 5-4-5 record. While Laurentian had the advantage defensively, only allowing 14 goals against to Toronto’s 18, the Varsity Blues scored 21 goals to the Voyageurs’ 13.
Laurentian grabbed hold of the game early on as Ian Wolfe nearly converted from a shot inside the box that sailed over the goalkeeper but rang off the crossbar. The Voyageurs kept pressing and were finally rewarded when rookie Cole Giffin connected with a header off a corner kick to score his first of the campaign. Toronto nearly equalized soon after when defender Jason Cordeiro unloaded a shot over an empty net after a scramble in front.
Midfielder Russell Rodrigues tied the game, however, when he displayed some silky feet to get himself some open space and fire one short side to end the first half.
Toronto entered the second half with more intensity as they pressured the Laurentian backline and gave them little opportunity to breakout. Striker Kilian Elkinson eventually scored the go-ahead goal seven minutes into the half as he received a pass inside the box and spun around to unload a quick shot past the outstretched hand of Laurentian goalkeeper Thomas Guscott.
Laurentian struggled to muster any offense afterwards as Toronto closed the gaps and controlled possession until the final whistle, ensuring their ticket to the second round.
“The better team won for sure,” Laurentian coach Carlo Castrechino said. “After we scored that first goal we played really well but they picked up their game and their skill and experience came through for sure today.”
Castrechino said he was pleased with the Voyageurs’ start to the campaign but the 0-3-3 finish ultimately left something to be desired as they only scored three goals in that span.
“We had a great start to the year but didn’t finish very well,” Castrechino said. “We made some progress and there were a lot of rookies on the field today so it was nice seeing them get some experience.”