Varsity Blues take it to the last day

Victory over Laurentian leads men’s soccer team to showdown with Carleton

Toronto Varsity Blues captain Lukas MacNaughton (6) celebrates with his teammates after a recent victory at Varsity Stadium. MacNaughton, who moved to Canada from Belgium four years ago, is top scorer for the Blues and is looking forward to a final regular-season game showdown against Carleton in Toronto this weekend.  CIARAN BREEN/TORONTO OBSERVER

Captain Lukas MacNaughton converted two penalties to lead the University of Toronto Varsity Blues men’s soccer team to a 4-0 win against the Laurentian Voyageurs (5-7-2) on Sunday, securing a final-day showdown with Carleton for a first round playoff bye.

Nikolay Saveliev and Jack Wadden completed the scoring, guiding the Blues (11-2-2) into sole possession of second place in the OUA East division. Carleton Ravens, sitting two points behind but with a game in hand, make the trip to Toronto next weekend for the crucial matchup.

Everybody’s ready to put everything on the line for it and to get that win.

“It was a tough game,” said MacNaughton, back in Toronto after the round trip to Sudbury. “We went there off of the win on Wednesday (2-1 at Ryerson). We had pretty good fight in us and then I think we got there on Sunday and we didn’t have that same energy.”

Toronto struggled with the pitch conditions in the first half and the sides headed for dressing room locked at 0-0.

“It was quite a muddy field,” said MacNaugton, in his fourth year in Blues uniform. “We tried to play a little bit of football and had a couple of slip ups at the beginning. I think that rattled us a bit.”

The majority of varsity fields in the OUA are synthetic these days so the Toronto captain said trips like those on Sunday can be challenging.

“When we go to Laurentian, Nipissing, those are two fields where we know it is going to be grass and we have to change our game style to adapt to that.”

MacNaughton scored his first penalty in the 51st minute, and sandwiched goals two (Saveliev, 59’) and three (Wadden, 77’), converting from the spot for a second time with eight minutes remaining. The double took the midfielder’s tally to seven for the season, more than any of his teammates.

Listen to Lukas MacNaughton react to his offensive outburst. 

“I’m excited, it’s fun to score goals,” said MacNaughton, who played in the centre of defence the last two seasons before moving into a defensive midfield role, which has allowed him to venture forward more often. “I’m happy to get on the ball to score goals and to give the team a win, that’s all that matters at the end of the day.”

MacNaughton, who also leads his team in shot attempts (26) said he noticed the Laurentian goalkeeper guessed correctly for first spot kick, though the dive was in vain, so he neatly tucked it to the opposite side of the goal second time round.

“I knew where I was going to go as soon as the whistle blew.”

Now Toronto’s leader on the pitch is looking forward to the showdown with Carleton, where a win would see the Blues avoid playing a tricky midweek game next Wednesday before the quarter-finals start on Oct. 30.

“It’s a must-win game. Everybody knows that,” said MacNaughton, who grew up in Belgium and moved to Toronto to study architecture. “Everybody’s ready to put everything on the line for it and to get that win.”

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Posted: Oct 19 2016 9:43 am
Filed under: Soccer Sports