TORONTO, ONT – Just like that, it’s midseason.
As the calendar flips to the official start of fall, the OUA soccer seasons approach the midway point as teams begin establishing themselves in their divisions. While some have had softer schedules, that changes in the coming weeks, as every program will be tested in the eventual leadup to playoffs.
With sides playing between three and six matches, The Kickabout looks at what we learned from the latest week in the OUA.
WOMEN: Toronto is on a roll after a tentative start
The Toronto Varsity Blues came into this season with a strong roster. Yet, that didn’t show in an opening day 4-1 loss to the uOttawa Gee-Gees. Nervous, tentative and lacking in transitional play, the Varsity Blues were far off what was expected.
Since then, however, they’ve linked four straight wins, beating RMC, Trent, Ontario Tech, and that pesky uOttawa side.
Beating uOttawa 1-0 on the back of a Lindsay Bosveld goal was one thing. Still, it is moreso the consistency shown by the entire group over the last several games, albeit highlighted by the Ottawa win.
Midfielders Amelia Thompson and Miranda Badovinac have controlled the attacking transition and have done well to find spaces for Bosveld, Hannah Harkin, and Anne Yeoman further up in the attack to score goals. Those three forwards, in particular, have been getting into high-scoring positions, even though the finishing is not always there.
The biggest takeaway from the last few games and Sunday’s 5-3 win against Ontario Tech is the emergence of Bosveld, who is playing in her first full competitive season since 2019 after spending her undergrad with the McMaster Marauders.
Toronto’s attack is smooth and produces opportunities, as can be seen from Kieran Doyle’s charts below — their weekend wins against Trent and Ontario Tech saw them post over 3.70 expected goals in both matches, showing just how promising the attack is.
Although the offensive side of the game has found form, the next step for Toronto and head coach Angelo Cavelluzo will be to limit the counter-attacking and transitional chances where opposing sides often find chances.
While there is still a way go for Toronto to be considered among the best in U SPORTS, their rebound from the opening day loss and currency four-game winstreak is showing they could be even better than initially expected in 2022.
WOMEN: Stingy Lancers through the tough part
The tricky part is in the rearview mirror for the Windsor Lancers, at least, when it comes to the scheduled opponents.
After six games, the Lancers have only lost once, and that was to a cohesive York Lions side, who, even though they found a way past, were neutralized for much of the match.
This past weekend, the Lancers earned a pair of 1-1 draws with the McMaster Marauders, who, although they aren’t OUA Championship contenders, offered intense competition.
Now with nine points through six matches, the Lancers look towards four straight games against teams ranked lower than them as they face the Algoma Thunderbirds, Laurier Golden Hawks and Waterloo Warriors.
So far, the standout feature of the Lancers program has been defence. They don’t concede many chances, and when they do, goalkeeper Lauren Gellner often comes up with a stop. Windsor has conceded just 43 shots in 2022, with Gellner making 40 saves.
While the defence has led the way for Windsor, they will need attacking improvement, especially in their next few matches against lower-ranked competition. With only four goals scored, the Lancers are on the precipice of success and are made all the more fragile, with only Kailyn Robertson scoring more than once.
The last weekend showed that Windsor could play a well-suited game to nearly every opponent, and now they enter an integral stretch where they’ll need to become comfortable controlling the play from start to finish.
MEN: Chris Campoli, Mr. Clutch himself
If two consecutive OUA player of the week awards aren’t enough, then the last-minute goal against Toronto to seal an Ontario Tech win might be.
At the midpoint of the OUA soccer season, no player has been more critical to their team’s success than Chris Campoli, who has nine goals through just five matches with the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks.
Last week he scored four in one game against Trent, but this week, he lengthened his scoring streak to five straight games, potting a 86th-minute winner on a superb strike to beat the Toronto Varsity Blues 1-0 away from home.
Campoli is always a threat when he is on the ball, but it is moreso his work off the ball, which draws defenders and opens up spaces for opponents. While he often will take possession on his own, his qualities are borderline too good for the OUA, and few defenders find success against his dynamic skillset.
One of the few players drafted twice into the Canadian Premier League; the Halifax Wanderers are sure to be monitoring his success closely, holding his CPL rights for after the season.
For now, however, Ontario Tech has one of the league’s best players and boasts a perfect 5-0-0 record, good for top of the OUA East as they look towards next week’s tilt with the TMU Bold.
MEN: Mustangs having a breakout season
After several mid-table seasons, the Western Mustangs are amid a breakthrough campaign in 2022, sitting atop the OUA West with a 5-0-1 record. While their latest 10-0 and 7-0 wins against the Algoma Thunderbirds were expected, they’ve shown their ability to control games from the outset and are in fine form for upcoming tough matches.
Notably, the Bontis brothers have been standouts, with Dino Bontis making 12 saves in two clean sheets, while midfielder Charlie Bontis has three goals and three assists. Additionally, forward Jamu Iluya has five goals, good for third best in the OUA.
Western has generally played a possession-based game, dominating the play and controlling the pace in midfield. Although their play may look better against the lower-ranked Algoma Thunderbirds this past weekend, there are certain things to watch out for as Western moves into the heavy parts of their campaign.
Upcoming matches to watch
Men’s: Guelph Gryphons @ York Lions (Sept. 25, 8:15pm ET)
Women’s: uOttawa @ Ontario Tech (Sept. 24, 1:00pm ET)