By Tyler Harper
Andrea Raso’s late game heroics saved the day for the Ryerson Rams women’s soccer team in a 1-1 draw against the Laurentian University Voyageurs on Sunday afternoon.
Down one after an early Laurentian goal, the second half saw a rejuvenated Rams squad put constant pressure on the opposing side until Raso tied the match with a shot in front of a crowded net.
“I don’t usually celebrate after a goal but that felt pretty good,” she said. Raso, a first-year business management student, is one of several new recruits on a Rams squad that’s being hyped as Ryerson’s team to watch this year.
Peyvand Mossavat, now in his fourth season as the team’s coach, is already sold on Raso, who turned down several offers from the U.S. to play at Ryerson. “Her tactical ability is probably one of the best in the OUA. She’s going to be a big-time player for us.”
Another key player for the team is last season’s scoring leader and OUA East Rookie of the Year, Tessa Dimitrakopoulos.
“Tessa is obviously Tessa,” said Mossavat. “She’s already proven herself last year. With having better players around her, she’s going to shine.”
Players such as Raso and Dimitrakopoulos are the products of a concentrated effort to sell Ryerson as a soccer university. Mossavat says the team is finally starting to develop thanks to his coaching staff’s hard recruiting.
“I think the environment we’ve created is a positive one. I already have five e-mails from kids playing in the provincial league. That’s the first time ever I’ve had kids contacting me the year before saying they want to come to Ryerson. The word’s out that Ryerson has got a good program and we are trying to take advantage of it.”
It wasn’t always so easy. “I remember going into teams talking to people and they’d laugh in my face,” Mossavat says.
He credits the team’s assistant coach, Bijan Azizi, for the improvement of the women’s soccer program at Ryerson. “He’s my coaching mentor and I credit a lot of our success to his direction. He’s sort of the team’s grandfather.”
The Rams finished last season by making the playoffs only to lose in the first round to the top-seeded team. Mossavat says this year the team aims to challenge the top four.
“We haven’t set any aggressive goals. Last year was to make the playoffs and we did that. This year, the expectation is not to be the sixth team, but in the top four. That’s our goal and so far so good.”
With a solid 2-1-1 start behind them, the Rams currently sit fourth place in the OUA East standings.