The Varsity Blues women’s soccer program is on the upswing. Offence does indeed win games, and in the eight regular season games the Blues have played, they have consistently outmatched their opponents and found the back of the net.
Claudia Piazza has continuously put her name on the score sheet. The former UTM student (now at St. George) has four goals on the season thus far and leads the team in scoring, and is 21st overall in the OUA.
The second-year linguistics major began at UTM after turning down an offer to attend the University of Toledo in Ohio. “I decided to stay and I chose U of T because of the soccer program,” she says.
After her first year on the Blues, Piazza racked up one goal in 14 starts and was named an OUA East second team all-star.
Over the summer, the Varsity Blues midfielder prepared for her sophomore campaign by playing for a semi-professional Kitchener-Waterloo team, KW United. Piazza’s summer with United helped her improve her game and get used to the style of coach Stuart Neely, who was named the women’s varsity soccer coach in the fall.
“There is no doubt that Claudia learned some things over the summer and, after a slow start, became a midfield force adjusting to some of the physical and tactical demands of the game,” says Neely. “It has only been eight matches, but already she looks like a young experienced pro.” Neely sees this year’s squad as a team that will set a precedent for years to come.
The 2014 season has been a successful one for Piazza. After transferring to St. George at the beginning of the school year, she was named Athlete of the Week by U of T varsity sports for the week of September 8. “I was surprised when I was named athlete of the week, but it motivated me to want to be named it again in the future,” she says.
Piazza attributes her success in scoring to the unselfish plays of her teammates. “They encourage me to shoot more, which gives me confidence [and] I’m able to finish and score,” she says. She believes the team’s recent success is owed to the the hiring of new recruits and coaching staff, as opposed to the 2013 season, when the men’s and women’s varsity teams shared a single coach. That coach, Anthony Capotosto, is still the head coach for men’s varsity and operations manager for women’s, but now Neely is coaching women’s varsity.
At the moment, Piazza is finding a way to juggle sports, school, and work at Lone Star downtown, where she takes morning shifts to work around her school schedule. Piazza admits that it can be difficult to manage these responsibilities, but finds it easier to cope knowing that the majority of the players on her team and varsity teams across U of T are going through a similar experience.
The Brampton native expects to graduate with a degree in linguistics, with the hopes of possibly becoming a speech pathologist. “I would love to further my career in soccer and hopefully play somewhere professionally in Europe before doing my master’s,” she says.