By Fraser Caldwell
On a day that saw McMaster honour former coach Joe Valvasori, the Marauders gave their beloved mentor a match he would be proud of Saturday.
Pumping four goals past their opponents in the opening 45 minutes, the Marauders (1-0-0) wrapped up a 5-1 win over the Windsor Lancers (0-1-0) to open their OUA campaign at Ron Joyce Stadium.
OUA West All-Star Steph Roberts had a pair of goals in the first half, while Talia Sierra-Merino, Ally Riganelli and Amy Froome also scored for McMaster in the win.
Sophia Ferrazzo nabbed the lone goal for the visiting Lancers in a losing effort.
At the conclusion of play, McMaster held a ceremony in honour of Valvasori, the two-year head coach of the Marauders women’s program who succumbed to illness in April 2019.
The Marauders soccer teams will both wear a ‘JV’ patch throughout the 2019 season in recognition of the coach, who was a part of both programs as an eight-year assistant with the McMaster men before and during his appointment to the women’s head coaching role.
A plaque in his honour has been installed in both teams’ locker rooms, and will remain there in the hopes that both current and future Marauders will understand the influence that Valvasori, who led the Marauders women to their most successful season in two decades, had on McMaster.
Valvasori’s close friend and former assistant, Anthony Costa recorded his first win as the Marauders head coach Saturday, having assumed the role over the summer.
The defending OUA bronze medalists put their opponents under immediate pressure, creating a trio of quality scoring chances inside the opening five minutes with only the finish eluding them.
That was only a momentary concern, however, as another well-worked trip into the Windsor half saw Merino-Sierra apply the simple conclusion from a square pass, as McMaster took the lead in just the sixth minute.
Riganelli had been causing headaches for her marker on the right side of the Marauders attack already, and grabbed a deserved goal in the 15th minute when she beat a pair of defenders to an out-swinging corner and took a quick touch into the back of the net.
Windsor pulled a goal back, and momentarily brought some tension to the Ron Joyce Stadium stands, when Pettenuzzo gathered a loose ball on the edge of the Marauders box and took advantage of a moment of confusion to bundle a shot inside the far post in the 25th minute.
The Lancers momentum was short-lived, however, as the country’s leading scorer in 2018 imposed herself on the contest minutes later, latching onto a quality through ball and firing confidently home to give the Marauders a 3-1 lead in the 27th minute.
Showing her quality yet again just six minutes later, Roberts doubled her tally on the day by shrugging aside her defender through the middle of the park and squeezing a low shot past the keeper and just inside the far post for 4-1.
With the dominant first half in the books, the Marauders slowed down proceedings in the second, but extended their lead in fine style through Froome in the 51st.
The veteran forward found some space in front of the Lancers back line and placed a long-range effort just inside the top corner give the hosts a four-goal lead and provide a fitting cap to a vintage Marauders performance.
NEXT UP: McMaster travels to Waterloo Sunday to battle the Laurier Golden Hawks, who open their season against the Marauders with a 1:00 p.m. kickoff.