By Peter J. Evans
Reporters may need to wear a cup when talking to men’s soccer coach Tony La Ferrara in the future.
“If you had told me at the start of the season that we’d go three and seven for the year, I would have kicked you in the balls,” said a dejected La Ferrara after the game. “It’s the same old problems.”
The final chapter in the Rams’ season was written with their 3-1 home loss to McMaster University stadium on Saturday. A tie would have been enough for Ryerson to clinch a playoff berth.
The Rams have had trouble all season with allowing early goals, and this game was no exception. The Marauders opened the scoring just two minutes into the game with a strike from midfielder Andrew MacDonald.
“It was a stupid, bad goal,” said La Ferrara. Ryerson equalized soon after with a goal from Milos Krivokapic. The two teams traded chances throughout the half, before the physical play boiled over on both sides. Just before the half ended, a scuffle near midfield resulted in coincidental red cards for Ram Pedram Eynolhagh and Marauder Dave Williams.
In the second half, the Rams seemed overly comfortable playing for the tie. After a lucky McMaster goal midway through the second half, Ryerson continuously pressed into McMaster’s zone, but were unable to test the goaltender.
And the more Ryerson’s midfield pressed forward, the more holes were exposed on the back end. When McMaster chipped a third goal over Rams’ keeper Erik Waisman’s head with 10 minutes remaining, Ryerson’s fate was sealed.
After the back-breaking goal, rookie Hosein Ahmadzadeh’s emotions got the better of him, and he was ejected shortly after for a suspect tackle. Rams striker Radu Melnic, who made headlines earlier in the year for flirting with the league lead in goal scoring, was held without a goal for his fifth consecutive game. He finished the season with seven goals.
“I’m speechless,” said Melnic following the game. “Once again it was the same start as the last few games. It’s just individual mistakes, I don’t know what to tell you. I thought the effort was there, the hunger was there. “We said [at the start], whoever is hungry would win the game. It wasn’t our day-what can I say?”
La Ferrara noted that Melnic has been nursing an ankle injury since receiving a hard hit against Nipissing on Sept. 26. Melnic was sporting a large icepack on his left ankle following the game.
“We were pretty confident going in,” said Ram Patrick Santoro. “We knew all we needed was a tie. We dominated most of the game, but they finished on their chances.” “One thing missing on this team is history, a tradition of winning,” said La Ferrara. “They need that passion for the tradition of the yellow and blue jersey.”
The stadium doesn’t help either. The Barenaked Ladies had nothing but fond memories of Birchmount Stadium in their hit One Week, but not La Ferrara. “We don’t even have home games,” he said. “I don’t want to make it an excuse, but sometimes our home games are even further away than our road games,” he said, referring to the proximity of the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium.
He says having to travel huge distances just to practice every day played a role in the team’s demise. “The stuff they have to go through just to play – I have so much respect for these kids,” he said. “I appreciate their effort, dedication and commitment so much.”
“When I see the quality of players we had this year, I thought we would have been better.”
– With files from James Mirtle