L.U. soccer women back on a winning track
by Randy Pascal
The Laurentian Voyageurs women's soccer team snapped a season-opening three game losing skid on Sunday, posting a 4-0 whitewash over the RMC
(Royal Military College) Paladins, as head coach Rob Gallo praised his troops for not losing the faith.
"We just didn't have enough time to organize ourselves," he said, with his team now looking at a schedule that sees them playing nine of their final 12
games in Sudbury. "Training camp is too short, there are too many new faces - I'm not using these as excuses, but in fairness to the girls, we needed them
to simply take every game to develop."
"That's been our philosophy since day one," Gallo continued. "Do not base your assessment of your performance on the score, base it on whether you're
improving with each game - and we are getting better."
Following setbacks, on the road, against both the Ryerson Rams (1-0) and University of Toronto Blues (4-1), the L.U. women travelled to
Kingston on Friday, preparing for a tough matchup against the OUA silver medal winning team from 2016.
A 3-1 loss to the Queen's Gaels showed signs of promise, as Laurentian overcame goals from Alexandra Doane, Rachel Radu and Jenny
Wolever, responding with a tally from Bianca Brieding in the 63 minute.
Building upon that positive note, the Voyageurs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening eleven minutes the next day against RMC, as Brianne Rodrigue and
Brieding both hit the mark, with Sarah Sanford adding a pair of insurance markers late and keeper Caitlin McNamara recording her first shutout of the season.
"With McNamara back in net this past weekend, it made a huge difference," said Gallo. "Everything starts with the goalie. I thought she played an
excellent game against Queen's. The score did not reflect how she played."
With only four starters back from 2016, Gallo is still in a juggling mode, four games into the fall of 2017. "We've been moving kids in and out right
now, and we're just not settled," he said. "That's my biggest problem right now."
"We haven't replaced that attacking midfield position since losing (Amanda) Kwan. We're just a little thin in certain positions and we're being
exposed in those positions. The good news in the whole process is that we've played the majority of the games with everybody. Everybody has played off the
bench, and that's important for us."
"The nice surprise has been Bianca Brieding," Gallo added. "We've moved her in from holding to midfield, and she scored against Queen's on Saturday and
RMC on Sunday. She's been on the reserve squad the past two years, but she's doing a really good job for us right now."
"We do have that veteran presence up top with (Michelle) Walsh, Rodrigue and Sanford. They're very good, but we're not servicing the proper ball,
to them, so other teams are just matching up our three forwards and it's limiting our opportunities."
Though Gallo certainly sees light at the end of the tunnel, the reality is that his squad will now face a number of key games in the coming weeks if they
hope to extend their run of post-season appearances (currently at nine), beginning with a battle against the Nipissing Lakers this coming Saturday
(September 9th) at noon.
"We were on the road three weekends in a row (including a pair of pre-season games in Montreal), so we put them through the grind," stated Gallo. "I
like how they responded."