A chilly dark night in downtown Toronto, in front of a passionate but small fanbase, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues defeated the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks 1-0 in their first game of the 2019 OUA playoffs.
The game started off slowly for both sides, but that would soon change. In the 14th minute, a Toronto attacker was pulled down inside the Ridgebacks penalty area, leading the referee to point to the spot for a kick from 12 yards. Usually a sure-thing, a penalty in soccer should not be kissed. That was not the case on Wednesday night when Ridgebacks goaltender Alicia Chisolm parried away the Toronto penalty shot to keep the game tied at zero.
Yes, stopping the PK was an achievement, but the Blues couldn’t be held off for much longer, as less than five minutes later they did find their opening goal. It wasn’t pretty, barrelled in by Miranda Badovinac, but they all count and the goal gave the home team the hot start they were looking for. Especially being the after show to the men’s 6-0 playoff win versus Nippising.
“It’s very important that we scored very soon after the PK miss. A lot of the time you can find yourself in a rut and never get the offence going” said associate coach Angelo Cavaluzzo after his teams win.
Neither team had much in the way of chances. That is until the end when the Ridgebacks stepped the pressure up and spent the closing minutes in the home sides half. Despite their valiant offensive efforts, they were unable to cash in on any opportunities, eventually sealing their 1-0 loss.
The craziest and most interesting part of the evening did not take place on the field, but in the stands. Ontario Tech’s travelling support was loud and exuberant until the final whistle, and their fans were by far the loudest of any that Varsity Stadium has seen this year.
Shouting, swearing and chanting were the fans- few of whom were supporting the Blues is not a common occurrence, but it did bring a playoff atmosphere to the important match. Being in Oshawa, it is strange that there would be so many ridgebacks supporters in downtown Toronto, however, their addition certainly complimented a usually dull U of T crowd.
It was good that the crowd was entertaining because the game was not exactly the most exciting. Toronto will now travel to Kingston to take on the Queen’s Gaels in the next round of the playoffs.
Looking ahead to that match, the blues are faced with a very speedy team that can punish offensively. Cavaluzzo spoke about facing the Gaels, saying “They’re fast and we will need to watch out on the counter-attack. But we do have a few practices between now and matchday, so we will be ready.”
The match against Queen’s is Sunday evening and can be streamed for free on OUA.TV.
(Feature photo: Varsity Blues Athletics)