Laurentian Athletics roundup: Soccer men hope to build on big win


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With a boost from their hometown fans, the Laurentian Voyageurs received a boost of confidence this past Sunday in a hard-fought 1-0 win over their previously undefeated OUA men’s soccer rivals from McMaster University.


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Ryan Jovanovich provided the decisive strike at 87:35, with an assist going to Jacxsen Cress, while Keeghan Ezzard made four saves for his first league victory and first OUA shutout as the Voyageurs flipped the script following a 6-0 defeat against the same opponents in Hamilton two days earlier.

“It was a big win,” said Laurentian head coach Carlo Castrechino, whose squad now sports a record of 1-2. “I was even surprised myself, with the effort the guys put in.

“We had a rough start, but I saw progression in the first couple of games. The results weren’t there, but I saw the team progressing and it showed on Sunday afternoon against a really strong Mac team. We battled chance for chance, it was an end-to-end game and we had other chances, too, but at least we got one with a couple of minutes left to pull out the win.

“Every player was dialled in and they left everything on the field. Our bench, even our reserves in the stands were pumped and cheering the team on, so it was a total team win, for sure.”

Defender Graeme McLean, LU’s captain and a fourth-year student who’s due to graduate at the end of 2021-22, said enthusiastic fan support in LU’s first home game also played a role in the positive outcome — one he hopes to duplicate in match against the Algoma Thunderbirds, to be played on the James Jerome Sports Complex Turf this coming Friday at 6:30 p.m

“Friday wasn’t the result we wanted,” said McLean, a sports administration major from Burlington, Ont. “We came back here, we had some fans and we came together as a unit, we worked hard.


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“We’re not going to take Algoma lightly. We’re going to use this as a confidence-booster moving forward, but I think it’s also important this week that we stay very grounded at practice and not get too far ahead of ourselves.”

Amid the uncertainty of a COVID-19 pandemic that forced the 2020-21 season to be cancelled, as well the court-supervised restructuring at LU that has resulted in the cancellation of several academic and athletic programs, Castrechino was pleased to see his players hit a positive note so early in the season.

“I think it shows the guys we can win,” Castrechino added. “It shows them we can compete with these teams and it’s that extra bit of motivation to really show well against U of T, Ryerson, Algoma — we have some really big games coming up, so a win like this, with the formation we played, it keeps us moving forward, working hard in practice.

“You know the Laurentian story — COVID hit, insolvency issues came and coaches at our school were at a pretty big disadvantage. We lost a lot of players at Laurentian who could have come back this year, but decided to go elsewhere. Training camp came and we had a few vets who did stick around, and I saw how they were leading these new guys coming in. Talking to the assistant coach, I said it might take a while, we have to find the right fit, the right formation for these guys, and I think we have it.”

Along with McLean, Castrechino complimented the leadership abilities of midfielder Giancarlo Galluzzo and keeper Ezzard, who’s following in the sizeable footsteps of Connor Vande Weghe and Adam Scanlon as a go-to goaler for the LU crew.


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“Our veterans have really led by example out there and the team camaraderie is really good,” Castrechino said. “I’m excited for the future of this team.”

But for that future to be realized, the coach cautioned, the Voyageurs will need to match Sunday’s work rate in each of their upcoming matches.

“I just told the guys hey, it’s OUA men’s soccer,” Castrechino said. “You should treat it like you’re battling for a playoff spot, no matter what the team’s records are. You don’t play your best, you’re going to come out on the wrong end of a result.”

“If we play tactically, as a unit and not as individuals, we can surprise anybody,” McLean added. “Against Algoma, I think the main thing will be staying concentrated, playing as a team again. Three points going into reading week will be very important to push us through.”

Big goal earns weekly honours

The Laurentian women also found reason to be optimistic against a strong McMaster outfit this past Sunday, playing the Marauders to a 1-1 draw.

Amanda Cuthbert scored and Hunter Jones turned aside six shots for LU, which recorded its first point in OUA play after an 0-2 start.

James Jerome will be the site of the team’s only game this week, with kickoff against Algoma University set for 4 p.m.

By scoring the Voyageurs’ first goal of the season, Cuthbert earned BioSteel Female Athlete of the Week honours.

Late in game against McMaster, the fourth-year sports administration student from Richmond Hill, Ont. fired a free kick into the top corner of the net, giving the Voyageurs a 1-0 lead before the Marauders replied with an equalizer.


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Laurentian golfer Jacob Lacko, a third-year SPAD student, was named BioSteel Male Athlete of the Week after shooting a 3-under 68 to win his OUA season debut by a single stroke and lead the Voyageurs to a second-place finish.

Lacko followed that up with a score of 72 at the Guelph Invite, only five shots off the pace, and led the team to a third-place finish at the Ridgeback Invitational.

Lacko and his teammates wrapped up their season at the regional championships in Waterloo this past Sunday and Monday.

Twitter: @ben_leeson


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