TORONTO, ON – Friday sees the last of OUA women’s soccer’s three divisions kick-off as the OUA Central Division takes to the field. With the Toronto Varsity Blues looking to avenge their OUA finals loss, the Rams looking to build on their historic season, and other teams battling for positioning the OUA Central division presents numerous stories to watch in 2021.
There are not very many positives that can be said about the Thunderbirds. The program has just one win in its history (a 4-1 stunning win over Windsor in 2019) and scored eight goals last season. If Algoma has any hope to move out of the basement of the Central division, it will rest on third-year forward Katie Nippard. Nippard was the largest source of the Thunderbird’s minuscule offence in 2019, providing three of their eight goals.
With a 2-8-4 record, the Voyageurs sat at the bottom of the pack in 2019 and the losses they endured since they will not help them move on from there. The critical piece being Mia De Gasperis. The forward potted just three goals in 2019, but it led the roster for a weak offence in Sudbury. Fourth-year Midfielder Amanda Cuthbert remains the Voyageur with the most goals from 2019, but at only two, it spells trouble for Laurentian’s already thin front line.
For the McMaster Marauders, 2019 was a middling season. A decent 8-6-2 record led them to a quarterfinal matchup with the higher-ranked Toronto Varsity Blues, who promptly dispatched them. Heading into 2021, the most Interesting member of the Marauders to watch for would be Meghan Mamela. The fourth-year kinesiology student finished with a pair of game-winning goals for the Marauders in 2019, showing off the sort of “clutch” play it seems that McMaster is going to need to get over the hump.
The Lakers cannot be happy with how their 2019 ended. Entering the playoffs the third seed they were upset by the Rams in penalty kicks sending a strong roster home far earlier than planned. Unlike most teams though the Lakers do have a holdover from that strong 2019 roster in fourth-year Ashley Mlinaric. As a sophomore, she potted a team-leading eight goals for Nipissing and like most teams that will be forced to transition in 2021, Mlinaric will be called upon for as much offence as she can provide.
Rams Soccer (Ryerson)
It all came down to penalty kicks but in 2019, the Rams made it farther than they ever have before. In a late October showdown in Round One of the 2019 playoffs vs Nipissing the Rams took the penalty shootout 3-0 to advance to the final eight of the OUA for the first time ever. They fell hard 5-0 to the uOttawa Gee-Gees in the quarterfinals but it represented growth for the team from Downsview Park. Fourth-year mid-fielder Brooke Pearson will be looking to step up even further for the Rams in 2021. The OUA Second-Team All-Star led the Rams with five goals and will be leaned on heavily as they look to improve on 2019’s record-setting year.
Toronto Varsity Blues
It was a memorable 2019 season for the Varsity Blues as they added a pair of medals to the trophy case. After falling in the OUA Final to York, Toronto travelled out to Victoria where they defeated Acadia to win the 2019 U SPORTS Bronze Medal.
The Blues will look to go for gold on both fronts in 2021 but they will have to do it without a key piece of their roster as Jenny Wolever graduated from the Blues. The Physical Therapy student was a key part of Toronto’s offence in 2019, finishing 8th in the OUA in goals and tied for 6th in points. It will be up to the rest of the Blues roster to compensate as they fight to get back to the OUA and the national podium. Queen’s Gaels transfer Erin Cliffe is also joining the roster for her final year of eligibility after a successful few seasons in Kingston.
- Toronto Varsity Blues
- Nipissing Lakers
- McMaster Marauders
- Rams Soccer
- Laurentian Voyageurs
- Algoma Thunderbirds