By Steve Petrick
The Ryerson women’s basketball team hasn’t chosen an easy path on the road to the national championships in Halifax later this month.
Thanks to a mid-season six-game losing streak, and 2-9 record in the second half of the season, the Rams go into Thursday’s OUA final tournament at York University as the fourth and final seed in the division.
The bottom seed guarantees Ryerson team a first-round match against the divisions’ top seed Laurentian Voyageurs. Ryerson closed out its regular season with 79-62 loss in Sudbury to the same Voyageurs.
On the surface, it doesn’t look like the team has much of a chance to win anything more than cab fare to York.
However, it would be foolish to count this team out.
This is a club that has fought through more than their fair share of problems this season. Like other squads, the Rams have put up with injuries and illness.
However, this team has also survived the loss of two key players and waded through a lengthy losing streak.
Rams head coach Sandra Pothier is confident her team can move into the second round of the playoffs which would be the first for her coaching career at Ryerson.
“When our team is mentally prepared we can beat any team in the country,” she said.
When the Rams ended their regular season with a loss in Sudbury, it was their fifth game in seven days.
Through the fatigue, nagging injuries and mid-terms, the Rams are convinced they can beat the Voyageurs.
“We’re excited. We’re psyched. We think we can do it,” fourth-year centre Daniela Pusht said. “Everyone has to come together. It doesn’t matter how we did in the season. It’s a whole new start.”
In Sunday’s game, two key players were playing with some sort of pain.
Third-year forward Lisa Poulin was recovering from a nasty bout of strep throat. During a timeout near the end of the first half, Poulin doubled over by her team’s bench, gasping for air.
Rookie Mandi-May Bond also battled through illness. Bond, a centre and candidate for rookie of the year, came off the bench to score 20 in the loss.
Laurentian head coach John Campbell knows that he will see a different Ryerson team on Thursday.
“Obviously when they go home they’ll get some rest. They’ll be rejuvenated and I expect a really tough game,” he said.