TORONTO, ON – Another week of OUA men’s soccer is in the books, and it was a doozy again. The results are coming thick and fast, yet none have yet yielded a true “what is going on?” reaction. You can only hope something like that comes soon enough, as too many giants are starting to flex their muscles.
You know the drill by now. Let’s dive into the match of the week, a closely-contested Toronto derby, right until the end.
OUA Match of the Week: TMU Bold 1-0 Toronto Varsity Blues
Ironically, Saturday night’s match between the TMU Bold and U of T was the Varsity Blues’ boldest performance of their season. Still struggling after a loss to their inner-city enemies, they can at least pick out positives from a game that they easily could’ve lost by three or four – with that said, salvaging a draw wouldn’t have been too much of an ask.
It took a beautiful cross from Colin Gander, wisely avoided by one of TMU’s attackers to let Chris Campoli take centre stage with beautiful control and a perfect volley. Somewhat of a cheat code tandem, you wouldn’t have been able to take Campoli off the scoresheet for long, while Gander’s service is something to behold. The goal wasn’t really capping off a series of plays in which TMU looked to have that exact moment. Gander just grabbed the bull by the horns, so to speak, and brilliance followed.
You can hardly blame him.
The season has been scrutinized for the Bold so far, and it’s not because of their play: ranked well inside the top ten, they’re a winning machine. After hazing allegations surfaced, they had to forfeit matches right at the beginning of the year. Rooting for this TMU team would be very difficult, but however consciously the feeling may be, nobody can watch them without thinking “wow.” Piecing together plays and passes with incredible efficiency and beauty, no reaction as to them being the frontrunner for the OUA title this year can be classified as an overreaction, merely an educated guess.
If they go all the way, still having that beauty in how they play through an otherwise gritty performance will be crucial. Toronto did more than take them on; for some stretches, they emerged as the team with the upper hand. As it is with the Varsity Blues, they played through the middle and sprung counter-attacks through a midfield that TMU didn’t have numbers in most of the time. The Bold attacked with so much ambition that Toronto was able to catch them short-handed at times.
Russell Stewart had some good runs on the right wing, and coming inside, his driving forward opened up the room for Andrea Schifano to have four shots on goal. Toby Richardson held down the fort at the back end, taking a yellow card in the process but still showing good signs getting the ball out of harms way. It had to happen often where desperation challenges were made because of Luca Di Marco and others getting picked out in open space, but U of T timed every perfectly.
Both squads could switch the direction of play quickly, and neither had a time where one was really held back, aside from the minutes immediately after TMU scored, where they were the side with much more offence flowing.
Playing out of the back quickly is how they change the match’s tempo; Kai Martin progresses and gets the ball bouncing around the midfield and fullbacks before TMU puts their foot on the gas and sends a longer pass up the pitch. The defenders also stuck to their position much more when others didn’t, thus neutralizing Varsity Blues pressure. While the visitors tried locking down the middle and let the wingers slip by, TMU marked every man and had their defensive midfielders drop back to shut down Toronto when they broke into the final third.
So, the Varsity Blues had to take full advantage of set-piece opportunities. With Stewart hitting one that swerved but ended up going right at the goalkeeper, in the 86th minute, he had a chance to redeem himself. An unnecessary foul was followed up by a truly dangerous free kick. The ball was guided right through the wall and tipped upward but Dante Ferraro quickly got to the ball.
Ferraro also had some good moments coming out of his six-yard box late in the match to help out with stopping Toronto.
Every player on the pitch got up for that rivalry clash, so it’ll be interesting to see how they will respond next week. Toronto tries to bounce back against Trent, which will be easier said than done on home turf. TMU will look to ride the elation of a big win again when visiting Queens. They climbed to sixth in the OUA East.
- While this isn’t strictly soccer, it is worth mentioning that Miami Heat superstar Jimmy Butler has been in Toronto training at Varsity Stadium. That certainly made the rounds on social media as it came out of left field for sure.
- The Carelton Ravens improved to an undefeated 5-0 after two all-business performances against Nipissing and Laurentian, putting up a five-spot on both. Luca Piccioli scored three between those two fixtures, breaking onto the scene as a potential frontrunner for player of the year. Goalkeeper Roberto Frankovic hardly broke a sweat, only racing one shot on goal in the past weekend as well.
- After going down 2-0 to the Trent Excalibur within 20 minutes, Queen’s immediately came back, scoring a whole 11 seconds after Trent doubled their lead. From then on, it was almost all Queens as they went on to win 5-3 in a very entertaining contest. Jason Cho scored and assisted, helping lead the line. Queen’s have proved that they are must-watch, mostly because every match they play, whether it’s to their benefit or not, is entertaining.
Canucks at School Player of the Week: Ambrose Tinmouth, Guelph Gryphons
Climbing out of the basement and into fifth in the OUA West, Guelph is coming alive again. A very successful weekend was had after a two-match set with the Waterloo Warriors. Tinmouth surely enjoyed it. His efforts got recognition from U SPORTS, those being a hat-trick of assists and a goal in the first fixture, followed up by two more strikes and yet another assist. Those two goals opened up the second game as a showing of Gryphons dominance. This isn’t stat-padding, no, this is some real talent on display. The athletic number seven who is always in the right place at the right time looks like a deciding factor on if Guelph can go deep in the playoffs.