Lauren Hughes made her W-League debut at the age of 17 during the Ottawa Fury's June 2 home opener at Algonquin College. Photo: Dan Plouffe
By Dan Plouffe
After some early stumbles on their season-opening weekend on the road, the Ottawa Fury W-League team has shown they're back in form with a pair of 2-0 shutout victories and a 6-1 drubbing in their three most recent contests.
Some of Ottawa's recent matches have taken on the look of a half-court basketball game as the Fury setup their offence in the other team's half, working the ball around to get their best shot at the net.
"It's always going to be tough for us. Teams come in here and they try to sit and defend. The responsibility is on us to break that down," highlights Fury coach Dom Oliveri, whose squad's 27-game home unbeaten streak remains alive heading into their Wednesday, June 20 contest against Laval at Algonquin College. "We always have some work to do, but it's better (than the opening games), so we're happy."
Melissa Busque leads the Fury in goal scoring with three markers, while Ottawa native Gillian Baggott is next in line with two. The reigning W-League scoring champion, Mallory Outerbridge, broke her goose egg with the final goal of a 6-1 victory over London on June 9.
Ottawa teens hit the big time
Making their W-League debuts in home games were 17-year-olds Lauren Hughes and Marissa Duguay. Both were members of the Fury club's first United Soccer Leagues champion team two years ago when the U17 girls squad captured the Super-Y League title.
"I was pretty nervous," says Hughes, who is student council president at St. Peter Catholic High School. "I just wanted to do well and to prove to myself that I deserved it."
Oliveri assures that the field time is well-earned.
"It's not so much about age, it's about your willingness to compete and really get stuck in for tackles. Lauren has that in spades," Oliveri explains. "They're both holding their own. They still have a lot to learn obviously, and that's why they're here – to gain some experience so they can come in in the future and make an impact for us."
Although she's taller than many players and looks every bit as athletic, Hughes says the older players are definitely more mature, quicker and stronger.
"You can tell they've played college soccer," Hughes notes. "You definitely see a huge improvement in your game just from playing with them. They're so quick, so it teaches you that your touches have to be that much quicker and you have to know what you're going to do that much quicker.
"It's a big step up. It's kind of nerve-wracking, but it's a good change."
Fury teams top division
The Fury sit atop the W-League Central Division standings with a 4-1 record – two points up on Hamilton, the lone team that's beaten Ottawa this season. As hosts of the W-League final four July 27-29, the Fury are guaranteed a place in the league semi-finals.
The Premier Development League Fury men are also at the top of their Northeast Division standings with a 5-1-1 record – one point ahead of Seacoast United. The men are on the road for four straight before returning to Algonquin College for a Canada Day matchup against Worcester.