by Josh Wingrove
Radu Melnic took a weekend off, and his coach is angry.
“Everybody is writing down Radu, Radu, Radu, Radu. I hope you guys watched the game,” said Tony La Ferrara, head coach of Ryerson’s men’s soccer team. “The guy is supposed to lead us or whatever the goddamn thing is supposed to lead us. He gave up two goals today. They scored two goals because he screwed up.
“It’s too harsh, but it’s the truth,” La Ferrara added.
Melnic was quick to take responsibility for his play.
“I’ll take the blame for the loss because I’m the one that gave up,” Melnic said.
The Rams lost their home opener 3-0 to the University of Guelph Gryphons Saturday.
“Three shots, three bad ones. Three bad giveaways, all three of them. Unbelievable,” La Ferrara said. “It’s not inexperience, because it didn’t come from the inexperienced players. It came from the most experienced guy on the freaking team.”
Two of Guelph’s goals came directly off turnovers by Melnic in front of the Rams’ net. Melnic left the field after the third goal.
“It was just a lack of communication. It’s still early. We still need some more gelling, we need some more practice time,” Melnic said. “It’ll come.”
After the game, La Ferrara spoke to the team at length in the dressing room.
“He told us we had to play as a team,” Melnic said. “Even though I was the one that gave up the game, no one should blame anyone. We need to play as a team.
“We lost as a team,” he added.
Melnic scored seven goals in the first five game of last season before an ankle injury slowed the striker down. Despite the drop off in production, he led the team in goals and was named the most valuable player. Melnic is disappointed he hasn’t scored this season.
“It’s just a different team,” he said. “It will take a while to get used to it.”
La Ferrara can’t explain Melnic’s turnaround from last season.
“Last year, in the first game of the season, he scored two goals. This year, in the first game of the season, he gives up to goals,” La Ferrara said. “So I mean, the number is there. It’s in the wrong direction.”
Guelph’s first tally came in the first two minutes of the game. Early goals have been a problem for the team over the past couple of seasons.
“Last year, almost every game, the first five, 10 minutes of the game we give up a goal,” La Ferrara said. “I know we’ve improved this year, and we give up a goal in the first minute. That was really good.”
La Ferrara and Melnic praised the play of the rookie Rams, notably Terry Indellicato, a first-year journalism student. It was the veterans La Ferrara felt let the team down.
“The funny thing is, these are the guys you expect to get you through. And they didn’t. He didn’t.”
The Rams played in Hamilton Sunday, losing 2-1 to McMaster University Marauders. Melnic failed to score.
“Some of the veterans just aren’t doing their job,” Melnic said.
Despite their losses, La Ferrara is still confident in his Rams squad.
“I’ll tell you the truth, honest to God. Honestly, and maybe you think I’m full of crap or something, but I think these kids can play,” he said. “I think these kids can beat anybody. They can play. There’s no question they can play. They’ve got heart.
“We’re going to have a good team. We’re going to make Ryerson proud. I know we are. A couple of guys have to step up. You can’t make mistakes like that.”