U of T’s Claudia Piazza grabbed her third goal of the season in as many games as the Varsity Blues women’s soccer team comfortably beat the RMC Paladins 3-0.
The Blues started off the game with a number of good touches and passes and left the Paladins unable to cope with their early possession—a rhythm that would eventually last for the remainder of the encounter.
The Blues consistently pressed their opponents in offence and were bold enough to play their back four high up the pitch. Their wingers overtook both of RMC’s right and left backs to cut inside the 18-yard box while their full backs quickly followed behind to deliver crosses. It only took the Blues 10 minutes to find the back of the net after Alexandra Rigby put the ball through to Claudia Piazza, who in turn coolly slotted it past the keeper.
Seven minutes later, the Blues’ Christine Mulligan shot from a distance to give opposing keeper Alexandria Hogg a scare as the ball sailed inches wide of the post.
Piazza could have added a second goal to her tally 19 minutes in when she took a Blues free kick from just outside the penalty area, but Hogg got her fingertips on the ball and it hit the crossbar before heading out.
In attack after attack the Blues women found opportunities to increase their margin, but were thwarted by Hogg’s efforts to keep the Paladins in the game. However, 10 minutes before the break, Zoe Carty doubled U of T’s lead in the face of some awful defending. Because of an apparent miscommunication between RMC’s goalkeeper and their left back on the question of who should have cleared, Carty was able to throw her foot between the two, grab the ball, get it around Hogg, and slide it home.
The Varsity Blues went into halftime with a 2-0 cushion.
The first couple of minutes of the second half saw both teams lose the ball to each other before Brenda Murillo, in a brilliant play, cut in from the left à la Eden Hazard before taking a chip shot from 18 yards out and putting the ball into Hogg’s top right corner. U of T fans rejoiced over the goal that had sealed RMC’s fate.
The Blues’ midfielders continued to dominate, using the width of the field to pass the ball cleanly among themselves and to create set pieces for their attacking teammates.
Sienna Nanji raced onto a loose ball 71 minutes in and reached it before Hogg could, only to see her chip shot whiz just over the crossbar—a missed opportunity to bring U of T’s marker to four.
Four minutes later, a neat one-two between Zoe Carty and Christine Zwimpfer almost saw a goal only for Hogg to deny Zwimpfer a chance to appear on the score sheet.
In the final minute of the game, Piazza sent a well-taken cross to Zwimpfer, whose bouncing header went agonizingly wide of the post to make the final score Varsity Blues 3-0 RMC Paladins.
Coach Stuart Neely was happy with the way his girls choked the Paladins’ plays, but encourages them to “speed up in attack as well as be sharper in front of the goal in order to rise to Queen’s challenge”. But they certainly deserve a quiet evening.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Claudia Piazza (Blues)
A very convincing display by the sophomore centre midfielder, who played with ease and tirelessly slid her teammates behind the opposing team’s back four. A natural leader, she landed the first goal on her only shot of the game, giving her team momentum to build on. Unfortunately, Piazza and the team were held scoreless in Sunday’s game against Queens, losing 4-0.