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Wednesday, Apr. 25, 2018
Voyageurs pick up the win that they needed
by Randy Pascal

Looking extremely efficient in beating a team that they should beat, the Laurentian Voyageurs women's soccer team upended the visiting Nipissing Lakers 3-1 last Sunday in Sudbury.

The homeside opened the scoring on a play that Nipissing staff insisted was offside, as a wide ball was corralled by Laurentian's Brianne Rodrigue, who played it back through the middle to Sarah Sanford, with the Napanee native converting in the 36th minute.

While L.U. keeper Dino Mandolesi was not called upon often to bail out the Voyageurs, she did showcase cat-like reflexes late in the half, turning aside the Lakers best opportunity of the opening 45 minutes.

The Laurentian ladies wasted little time in the second half giving themselves some valuable breathing room, as Catherine Rocca finished off a pass from Michelle Walsh, crossing after a strong run down the wing to put the Blue & Gold ahead 2-0 six minutes in.

Amanda Kwan increased the lead to 3-0 in the 83rd minute, with Mia De Gasperis drawing the assist, before Nipissing hit the scoreboard on a penalty kick, as Selena Innamerati did the honours.

"This is exactly what we needed," noted Rocca after the game. "It's going to be a tight season." The second year holding midfielder has drawn considerable praise from coach Rob Gallo this fall, following up a solid rookie year with an excellent summer of preparation.

"First year, you come in not really knowing what to expect," she said. "This year, I kind of knew the intensity that we were going to face. I was lucky enough to start every game last year, so I know the teams. I worked really hard this summer, and wanted to be even better than I was last year."

Mission accomplished. The 19 year old native of Vaughan took to heart the advice of her coach during her exit interview last year, focusing on very specific aspects of the game where improvement would pay dividends.

"Winning 50/50 balls, being a lot more physical," stated Rocca. "I needed to win more balls. It's hard coming in and playing against fifth year girls - they're really intense. So definitely coming back stronger was important."

"For me, I need to focus on keeping my eye on the ball," she continued. "Sometimes it's hard not to just go right into the player. As long as you're making that contact with the ball, a little nudge here and there is not a bad thing. You are trying to win the ball."

The Voyageurs (3-2-0) will try and keep up that level of intensity with a second straight weekend at home, battling the Trent Excalibur (1-5-0) on Saturday at noon, and getting back on the pitch against the UOIT (University of Ontario Institute of Technology) Ridgebacks (4-1-1) on Sunday.

Coach Gallo has indicated that none of his starting eleven are sidelined with injuries this week, as Laurentian looks to solidify its hold on a playoff position.

Science North
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