By Josh Bailie
Following their first post-season victory in history, the men’s soccer team was eliminated from the playoffs after a frustrating loss to Carleton University on Oct. 26.
The country’s top-ranked Ravens dominated the Rams in the quarter-final with a final score of 4-0, but Rams coach Tony La Ferrara said his team controlled large portions of the game and suffered from many unlucky breaks.
“We created a lot of chances but just couldn’t find the trigger,” he said. “There would be a missed pass here, a close shot there, or the ball would deflect off someone’s foot at the last second.”
At the beginning of the season, La Ferrara opted to go with many first-year players — on average more than half the starting positions were filled by rookies. He believes the only thing his team lacked in comparison to Carleton was experience.
“Some of [the rookies] can rise up and some can’t, you know that’s expected,” he said. “That’s no fault of anybody, it’s just the way things are.”
Starting goaltender Robert Paolozzi needed to be replaced after being injured on a play that resulted in Carleton’s second goal right before the end of the first half.
“There was a little bit of disappointment, but overall the season gave us nothing to hang our heads about,” said co-captain Anthony Volpe.
In his third season as a Ram, Volpe said he’ll always remember the historic victory against Trent University on Oct. 22, won in penalty kicks.
“It was Ryerson soccer’s first playoff win, so dramatic with the ups and downs, playing a man short [for the final 40 minutes], going to the shoot-out, it was a great team effort.”
La Ferrara said it was one of his best moments as team coach and there were even “some teary eyes” from the team’s veterans.
Despite the nostalgia, the coach is extremely optimistic about the future of men’s soccer next season. The team has a strong core of rookies moving into their second year and he’s already started recruiting up-and-coming high schoolers.
La Ferrara said the tough times that the team experienced in previous seasons have disappeared.
He recalled when he started coaching about seven years ago — the school had to beg people to play for the team, other teams would play their reserves against them and they even played three seasons without an official goaltender.
“Now everywhere we go it’s ‘Wow I can’t believe you guys play so well,’ or ‘I can’t believe you got so far,’” La Ferrara said, adding that the team spirit this year has also been impressive.
Both La Ferrara and Volpe said they’re hoping for at least a finish in the top four next season.
“I think we’re turning the corner as they say, and from now on we’ll get to much better and higher things,” La Ferrara said.
The team has the next two months off and will resume training in January. In the meantime, La Ferrara will be making a more developed plan for next year’s team.