Preview of the Nipissing Lakers soccer teams as they begin their season this weekend

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Women’s Soccer

There were a lot of positive to the Nipissing Lakers women’s soccer team’s season last year, unfortunately the division they played in wasn’t one of them.

The Lakers ended up handing the Ottawa Gee Gees their first loss of the season, they opened the season with a victory and they ended the year in style with a win.

The downfall was that the East Division is much stronger than the West and because of that, the Lakers fell a spot short of the playoffs.

Had they been in the West Division, they would have qualified as the sixth seed and advanced.

That’s the story of last season in a nutshell, but things begin this weekend brand new, a blank slate for the team to create their own story for the 2017 season.

Kicking off the year on the road, facing Toronto and Ryerson won’t be an easy task and battling injuries makes the job that much more difficult, but the Lakers are ready.

The three teams finished seven points apart, with Toronto grabbing the final playoff spot, Nipissing behind them and Ryerson just two points back of Nipissing.

Turnover is a constant thing at this level, but if the Lakers can get off to a strong start this weekend, they can really build moving forward.

Starting with games on the road, if Nipissing can at the worst, tread water until returning home, they can begin their climb up the standings.

Vanessa Rota and Andrea Young, who both scored three times last year, are the highest scoring returning players and are joined by veterans Kristen Farkas and Delaney Borsato as fellow goal scorers.

Sarah Schouten and Tori Welk are the other experienced Lakers, who will be counted on to lead this team.

Grouped with impressive sophomores and a strong recruiting class, the Lakers will have the ability to make some noise in the East Division this season.

The Lakers are away from home for five games to open the season, beginning with Saturday’s clash with Toronto.

Sunday, Nipissing will wrap up the weekend facing Ryerson.

Both games are scheduled to start at Noon.

Men’s Soccer

After a tough season, the Nipissing Lakers men’s soccer team has turned the page and they’re looking to write a new chapter in the program’s history in 2017.

A year removed from missing the playoffs for the first time in five seasons, the Lakers have a strong recruiting class, along with key returning players and are looking to get back to the form they showed consistently just a few years ago.

With their first two games of the OUA/USports season set for this weekend, Nipissing will be looking to get off to a strong start and set the tone for the year.

Lakers head coach Carlo DeVuono believes he and a number of the players learned a lot last season, through tough times, and it will make them better this year.

“This is a fresh start. Last season was a learning experience for myself and the coaching staff, but we’re a hungry team this year,” he said. “We have a strong recruiting class, some new leadership and are excited to begin the season.”

The Lakers will return their top five scorers, who combined for 14 of the team’s 17 goals in 2016.

Ryan Roy, who led the team with four goals is joined by fifth year forward Andy Bago and second-year player Cody Vaillancourt.

While it will take a team to be successful this season, DeVuono will rely on his leaders, as well as his offensive players to make a difference.

Captain Alexander Zero is back and ready to lead the team from the backline.

Despite the turnover the Lakers saw from last year, DeVuono isn’t worried as he believes the players that are returning are ready to take over and the new recruits will be able to step in right away and contribute.

Their first test will come this weekend, facing Toronto and Ryerson, the teams that finished at the top of the standings last season.

Combined, the teams had a 26-3-3 record in 2016, so Nipissing will have their hands full, but it’s a good early test for the team.

The Lakers’ season kicks off Saturday afternoon on the road against Toronto, with kickoff set for 2:15pm.

Sunday, they’ll wrap up the first road trip of the year when they face Ryerson, also at 2:15pm.

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