The women’s soccer team gained a crucial three points in the standings on Friday. COURTESY OF SEYRAN MAMMADOV/VARSITY BLUES

Women’s team

The Varsity Blues women’s soccer team secured a 3–1 win over the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks on September 13, with impressive goals from newcomer Valentina Greco, regular starter Erin Kelly, and three-time Ontario University Athletics (OUA) All-Star Jenny Wolever. This loss for the Ridgebacks continues its fall from grace after the team went undefeated in 2017. 

The Blues were dominating possession from the very beginning, making intelligent passes and creating countless shot opportunities. Defender Daniella Cipriano played an especially smart game from the outset, moving quickly up and down the line to maintain possession and shutting down the few Ridgeback offensive efforts that broke past the half line. 

Cipriano’s speed and quick thinking created the opportunity in which Greco scored her first career goal — a quick cross up the line led to a goal in the second minute. “It was a really good play built from the back, they played it wide, [Kelly] just crossed it in and I finished it,” Greco described.

Kelly kept up the momentum with a header goal from another great Cipriano touch in the 14th minute. There was a significant commotion in the keeper’s box, but Kelly kept her cool and finished the play. She was a standout player throughout the game, making lots of touches and supporting a dominant offensive trifecta with Wolever and newcomer Miranda Badovinac, who together made aggressive plays throughout the first half. 

The second half saw deteriorating organization and coordination for the Blues after a penalty against keeper Levanta Staggolis led to a penalty kick goal for UOIT. Play got a little scrappier in the final minutes, with the Ridgebacks hungry to even the mere one-goal gap and U of T fighting for three points. 

In the end, it was Wolever who made it clear that the Blues’ lead was there to stay, with an insurance goal in the 90th minute, off a Kelly assist. “This was a game where even though things weren’t coming together as we thought, we all worked together and kept pushing, and I think that’s what got us through,” said Wolever. “We’ll just keep improving from here.”

Men’s team

The Varsity Blues men’s soccer team tied the Ridgebacks 1–1 on September 13 after 75 minutes of hard playing. Despite a promising second half, in which midfielder and former Guelph Gryphon Atchu Sivananthan scored off a penalty kick, the game was cut short due to an unrelenting lightning storm.

Both teams fought aggressively from the first minute, and it shows in the 15 fouls earned only in the first half. The Blues dominated possession, keeping constant pressure in the Ridgebacks’ half and executing flawless passing patterns. 

Star defender Kenny Lioutas instigated a number of intelligent plays from the beginning, shutting down Ridgeback breakaways and consistently keeping his cool in the face of a scrappy, foul-filled game, focusing instead on keeping possession and shifting the play. 

Despite an obvious domination of possession, the Blues couldn’t seem to get any chances once they moved into the keepers’ box: the great pass formations could not be backed up by any goals in the first half, and the frustration amongst coaching staff and players of both teams was palpable. 

It was at the start of the second half that the Blues’ aggression translated to shot opportunities. After an apparent goal from OUA East second team all-star Marko Mandekic was deemed offside, the Blues’ anger translated to them outperforming their opponents as consistent shots on net were made by Sivanathan, Mandekic, and defender Koosha Nazemi. This only intensified after UOIT scored on a penalty kick, only for Sivanathan to tie the score with a redemption goal in the following minute.

This upwards trajectory was only heating up when the game was called off. 

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