Soccer teams doing their homework in the off-season

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By Matthew Chung

If there’s anything positive the Rams’ women’s soccer team can take out of a winless regular season, it’s that they can’t do any worse.

Head coach Jon Sanderson is looking to bring in new players next season to help his team get some wins.

Sanderson says better goalkeeping is a priority for next season and he is recruiting two high school goalkeepers – Mandy Barrie from North Vancouver, who has won three provincial titles, and Allie Howarth from Mississauga.

Howarth, 17, played in the Ontario Youth Soccer League for Northern Mississauga, a rep team for girls under 18, last season.

She says Standerson first contacted her about playing at Ryerson two years ago when she was playing for Burlington’s (under 19) rep team.

But Howarth says Ryerson was already of of her first choices because of its business management program.

“Definitely education is number one for me,” says Howarth. “I want to get into marketing and advertising and I know Ryerson has a good program.”

Howarth has an average around 80 per cent at Loyola Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga. She has also applied to Carleton and Brock University but says Ryerson is her first choice in Canada. She’s also applied to schools in the United States, including Notre Dame de Namur University in California. She has talked with their administration about a possible scholarship but she says it won’t be the only factor when choosing her school.

She says it will cost more to attend a school in the United States even with a scholarship. Howarth could help improve Rams goalkeeping but Sanderson is also recruiting to replace three players who are graduating.

“They’re big losses to be honest,” says Sanderson.

“Two of the three, (striker Ashley Keohan and midfielder Lucinda McDonald) are my two top players.”

Aside from new recruits, Sanderson is hoping to have third-year student Michelle Anderson back on the team for the start of next season.

Anderson scored more than half of the Rams’ goals in her rookie year but then tore her anterior cruciate ligament during a Rams’ indoor soccer match.

Because of the injury, she missed the last two seasons. If she returns, Sanderson says she will be the top striker.

Men’s soccer team head coach Tony La Ferrara is losing two players through graduation this year.

Defenceman Jubril Braimo and forward Dante Cassassanta are both big losses for the young team.

“Jubril is probably our best player,” says La Ferrara.

“He’s a very solid defender and everyone looked up to him. It’s the same with Dante. He had a presence on the field that wouldn’t go by unnoticed.”

But La Ferrara expects the team will improve on its first-round loss in the playoffs this year since his rookies will have more experience.

Still, La Ferrara wants new recruits that can add depth to his team.

The Rams failed to convert scoring opportunities into goals this season and coach La Ferrara says the players he’s talked to will be able to put the finishing touches on good scoring chances.

“Some of these boys can help us with finishing and also on defence,” he says.

“If the ones who’ve indicated they want to come do come, they’ll fill the holes left by Cassassanta and Braimo.”

If you think you were overlooked by Sanderson or La Ferrara, you can always walk-on at the start of next season’s training camp.

Both coaches always hope for good walk-ons and while Sanderson says they’re rare, it has happened.

“Last year a young lady from Calgary, midfield Alison MacLachlan, walked on during her orientation week,” remembers Sanderson.

“She had no idea where Birchmount Park was but saw the tryout flyer and spent a $30 cab ride to get there for training camp. And she has turned into one of our top players for sure.”

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