Women dominate visiting Cougars, collect win in soccer home opener

Thunder varsity soccer had a fantastic start to their home-opening doubleheader on Sept. 14, as the women’s team thoroughly out-classed the visiting Sault College Cougars 6-1 during the early afternoon game. Forward Mikaela Gualandris led the charge with a phenomenal performance in her first start since an injury, assisting on midfielder Becky Leese’s opening goal […]
Photo: Stephen Riccio
OCAA player of the week Georgia Iliopoulos turns away from a Sault defender as Becky Leese (pictured right) prepares for the play. Leese would go down with a calf-cramp in the second-half, but teammates expect her to return for the next game.

Thunder varsity soccer had a fantastic start to their home-opening doubleheader on Sept. 14, as the women’s team thoroughly out-classed the visiting Sault College Cougars 6-1 during the early afternoon game.

Forward Mikaela Gualandris led the charge with a phenomenal performance in her first start since an injury, assisting on midfielder Becky Leese’s opening goal in the 2nd minute and then firing home a thunderous volley from distance in the 7th minute. Gualandris would score a second goal in the final frame to add on insurance.

“Mikaela’s solid,” Thunder midfielder, and 2018-19 OCAA all-star, Georgia Iliopoulos said. “She’s a real threat and she works hard.”

The Thunder dominated possession from the get-go, and the Cougars had little success creating chances in the Thunder half until they scored in the 55th minute, briefly threatening the women’s lead to make the score 3-1.

Thunder defender Samantha Caesar had her own two-goal performance, heading home a corner kick in the 9th minute and then rifling a long-range strike into the back of the net in the final minute of the game.

“We were good at the beginning and we kind of fell through a little bit, but we got our momentum back,” Gualandris said.

“Generally, we played well,” said head coach Basil Phillips. “We’re starting to find our groove a little bit and it was a good game.”

When asked for his thoughts on Gualandris, Phillips gave nothing but praise.

“She had a super game, she’s coming back off of injury and we’re slowly working her back into the lineup.”

The women’s soccer team has experienced a wealth of success over the past several years, but look to get back on track to gold after not winning the OCAA championship for the first time in the past four seasons.

In 2018-19, the squad finished a great regular season with a record of six-wins, one-loss, and five-draws and went on to win the OCAA championship consolation bracket.

Despite their past success, coach Philips knows that every year is different in the college system.

“I don’t put any pressure on myself or the team based on past team successes. I wasn’t a part of those teams and neither were my players.”

“I prepare my team to play the best football possible and results will take care of themselves,” Philips said.

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