Blues women beat RMC 4–0 to secure playoff spot

The Varsity Blues women secured their OUA Playoff berth on October 20 with a comprehensive 4–0 victory over the the Royal Military College (RMC) Paladins at Varsity Stadium.

The Blues dominated possession in the first half but were unable to fully capitalize against the Paladins, who focused strongly on defense. Toronto recorded nine shots to RMC’s one, with the breakthrough coming from a 39th-minute corner. Set-piece specialist Daniella Cipriano found centre back Christine Mulligan inside the 18-yard box, who managed to direct the ball into the net.

Cipriano and midfielder Julia Gonsalves linked up well on the right flank of the pitch throughout the half, providing a constant threat to the RMC defense. Striker Natasha Klasios demonstrated impressive hold-up play and dribbling, deftly creating chances for the Blues; this almost paid off in the 44th minute as she found strike partner Chelsea Cheung in space, but the RMC defense quickly removed the danger.

Both teams started strong in the second half, but Toronto fleshed out more chances, including a good run into the box by midfielder Vanessa Bucci and a 30-yard attempt by Mulligan. The Blues finally found their second goal when the impressive Klasios found space and fired in a shot from 20 yards in the 58th minute.

Midfielder Maddie MacKay almost added a third in the 60th minute when her 30-yard rocket bounced off the upright before being cleared by the RMC defenders. The third goal eventually came from an incredible 35-yard lob from second-year midfielder Anna Crone, capitalizing on the RMC goalkeeper’s poor positioning to seal her first Varsity Blues goal.

Although RMC launched more attacks in the second half, they produced zero shots. As the Paladins continued to fade, right back Cipriano found herself in more attacking positions, allowing her to play a smart one-two with Crone to score her first Varsity Blues goal in the 82nd minute.

“It’s such a good feeling to actually reach a goal… it’s been a long three years,” Cipriano said after the match. “It was a good dead ball from Anna… We pressed them really high so I feel like I definitely had the opportunity [to score].”

—Michael Teoh

Blues defender Kelly-Anne Johnson eyes the ball in Toronto’s 4–0 rout against RMC.

Five seniors close out their Blues career

The Blues women played host to the nationally ranked Queen’s Gaels on October 21 at Varsity Stadium. Five graduating Blues athletes were recognized by University of Toronto Executive Director of Athletics & Physical Activity Beth Ali and head coach Luciano Lombardi before the Blues’ final action of the regular season.

Among the graduating student-athletes were co-captains Laura Krkachovski and Christine Mulligan, both defenders for the Blues since 2013. Midfielders Laura Snoek, Alyssa Golin, and Nicki Parkes are also set to move on from the Blues program following the 2017 season. Parkes, a chemical engineering student from Sarnia, was a honoured as an OUA East second team all-star in 2016.

The Blues and Gaels met for the third time in 2017. The Gaels won both previous matches with multi-goal leads. They meet annually in preseason at the Old Four tournament which was hosted by Western University in August.

The Blues had a slow start to open the match. Queen’s rookie forward Alexandra Doane opened the scoring in the 23rd minute. The Gaels entered half time with a two-goal lead courtesy of Jenny Wolever. The final Queen’s goal came early in the second half from Laura Callender off of a penalty kick in the 52nd minute.

Minutes later, the Blues retaliated with a goal by Kristin Parkes. The rookie’s shot came from directly in front of the net, leaving Queen’s goalkeeper Anna Stephenson little chance to make a save. A subsequent hustle play from veteran Chelsea Cheung resulted in another goal for the Blues, priming the crowd for a great comeback. Cheung’s goal was set up nicely by Mulligan’s free kick in the 76th minute.

The Gaels’ defense was on their heels for the remainder of the game as the Blues maintained momentum and had several rushes in the final minutes. Despite this effort, including two saves from Toronto goalkeeper Vanna Staggolis, the Blues were unable to make the comeback. The narrow loss lands the Blues in fifth place in the OUA East Division with a regular season record of 7-7-2.

The Blues will face the Ottawa Gee-Gees on October 25 in the first round of the OUA Playoffs.

—Vanessa Wallace

Blues men earn stunning victory against RMC

The Blues men’s soccer team earned an impressive 4–0 victory against the Royal Military College (RMC) Paladins on Friday night, whom they previously defeated on September 30 with a 4–0 win.

Going into the game with a record of eight wins, two losses, and four draws, the Varsity Blues had optimistic chances.

Blues midfielder Lukas MacNaughton scored the first goal in the fifth minute. The goal was scored at the penalty spot after the Paladins committed a foul in the box. This amazing goal placed the Blues in a perfect position to take an early lead.

Throughout the game, the Blues showed great skill within their crisp passing and speed. Right off the bat, they showed a very obvious advantage in the way the team worked together and communicated. A free kick for the Blues in the 19th minute was set up for success, but unfortunately failed with a bounce off the crossbar.

As half time approached, Blues striker Antonio Ajhert scored a quick goal in the 41st minute, pushing the Blues lead to 2–0. Coming back from the halftime break, striker Nirun Sivananthan scored in the 51st minute rounding the total score to a solid 3–0 in favour of the Blues.

The game came to a brief stop when RMC defender Simon Leslie was injured and continued into the 75th minute when he was substituted out.

In the 80th minute, Blues midfielder Yousef Helmy brought the score up to an impressive 4–0 total, as the Toronto team continued to dominate the field with their determination and fierce plays.

The Blues’ solid victory matches their previous 4–0 win over RMC. Toronto enter their final regular season game against Queen’s University at 8:30 pm on October 21 at Varsity Stadium with a 9-2-4 record.

After this win, the U of T community should be excited to see what happens during the club’s postseason run.

—Jackie Emick

Blues men finish season in second place

The Blues men defeated the Queen’s Gaels 2–1 in a clean performance on Saturday night. The Blues finish in second place in the OUA Eastern Conference behind the Carleton Ravens going into the playoff run.

The team started strong with an early goal off a corner kick in the seventh minute by co-captain Lukas MacNaughton. Toronto maintained a convincing defensive performance throughout the first half, holding the Gaels to only two shots.

Striker Jack Wadden finished the first half with a goal in the 44th minute, assisted by strike partner Nirun Sivananthan.

The Gaels rallied in the second half of the game with a stronger offensive attack, which culminated in Jacob Schroeter’s 83rd minute goal. Despite the goal, the Blues accounted for five shots in the second half and 16 total shots.

Blues defender Devon Bowyer made a nail-biting final minute save and goalkeeper Mark Rogal also had a solid performance with two saves throughout the match.

Despite some uncertainty in the closing moments, the Blues held off attacks and ended their regular season run with an 10-2-4 record. They will enter into the OUA quarterfinals on October 29, opponent to be decided.

—Josie Kao and Laura Quon