The Leaside Lancers’ reputation as a soccer powerhouse came to the fore Apr. 29 as they withstood the North Toronto Norsewomen to win big in Tier 1 girls’ soccer.
The 9–3 score doesn’t reflect the competitive nature of the game. The early season tilt at North Toronto’s pitch was played in the rain and the wet field sped up play, with both teams were scrambling to catch up on long entry passes.
Each squad had ample early runs on goal, with each keeper making crucial early saves. In one instance, North Toronto’s goalie, Audrey Rott, made a great save off the right leg.
“This was our best game of this season,” said North Toronto striker Abby Thorson, who stands just under six feet tall. “We had spirit, which was a first, and we worked together as a team.
“We haven’t had that many practices before, and we got crushed [today], but this was the first game that we saw that we could possibly win and it was a good start to the game.”
In the first half, the Norsewomen responded to Leaside’s hogging of possession with an organized, aggressive defense. Unfortunately, the over-aggression soon proved dire for North Toronto, as Leaside’s Julia Babic scored the first goal outside the box, leaving no protection and support for Rott.
“We’re really just working on passing the ball around more, getting open, being more connected as a team, so that we can go father and get to OFSAA right now,” said Leaside’s Krystal Henry-Mathieu, the team’s middle striker. “Throughout the middle, there were a couple struggles trying to get around them, but once we broke them down, we pushed through.”
Leaside took advantage of the momentum shift, running past the flat-footed defense to bury two more before halftime. Leaside’s Thea and Thalia Petsis were speed demons, grabbing long passes from North Toronto’s defense that they little business obtaining.
However, North Toronto was not going to go quietly into the night. North Toronto notched two goals before halftime off Thorson’s foot. Each goal saw the taller and speedier striker take advantage of long passes from the middle.
“I thought it was a fluke,” Thorson said. “But, our team was the playing the best at that time. We had the best passing, the best throw-ins. It was a team goal, for sure.”
The Lancers responded almost immediately after the halftime break. Taking the ball deep to the right after the opening whistle, Krystal Henry-Mathieu tapped a shot the goalie’s left hand.
“[I liked] my goal in the corner,” Henry-Mathieu said. “I was able to turn it around and get it into the corner, it worked well.
“Usually, I’m a defender for my rep team, so this is my first, only, time playing striker,” Henry-Mathieu added, who is trying to get the hang of it. “It’s extremely [different]. I’m used to getting all the tackles, but now I’m really chasing scores.”
That goal was one of five unanswered goals for Leaside in the second half.
As the light rain picked up substantially in the second half, North Toronto were looking for a positive boost in production. Makena Arntsen’s goal late in the second half provided just that, one of many things that the North Toronto squad is hanging their hat on.
As the season progresses, both squads are confident the team game will improve. For North Toronto, who has a Tier-1 and Tier-2 squad for senior girls, getting better could just be a matter of discipline during practice.
“We’ve been mixing the practices together and I think it’s better if we separate the teams,” said Arntsen. “so we can get to really know each other as players and understand what to improve on.”
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