By Sachin Seth
The women’s soccer team missed the playoffs this season for the first time in three years — and coach Peyvand Mossavat offers no excuses.
“At the end of the day, our destiny is in our own hands,” he said.
“We should’ve had a stronger performance.”
Mossavat cited many reasons for the team’s post-season absence, including a shortened season with a seemingly unfair schedule.
Last year, the team had their most successful season in their 21-year history and Mossavat won coach of the year honours from Ontario University Athletics (OUA).
But it all fell apart last weekend, when the team was set to play two decisive games against Queen’s University and Royal Military College.
“We knew going into the weekend we needed two wins to have a chance,” said Mossavat.
The first game, against Queen’s, proved to be the nail in their coffin.
The squad lost 2-1, killing any prospect of post-season play. The next game on the ticket was against RMC, who they pounded 4-0, at least ending the season on a win.
But the score wasn’t the highlight of that game.
It was Suzanne Briggs.
Briggs, a fourth-year defender, was moved up to offense for the last 20 minutes of the match and scored two goals in the victory.
“She’s the most influential player to ever play at Ryerson. She had one thing that she hadn’t accomplished, scoring a goal,” Mossavat said.
“She made a speech at the end. Everyone was in tears. I kept a letter she wrote to me at the end of first year. She was too committed to other things, she didn’t want to play. I convinced her to stay.”
This year, the season was cut from 16 games to 14, and the matches Ryerson would have played if the season remained at full length were against Nipissing University and Laurentian University — teams they have played well against every year.
The shortened season also changed Nipissing’s schedule, who made the playoffs by a margin of less than one win.
Nipissing regularly played weaker squads while Ryerson was forced to play teams like the University of Toronto and the University of Ottawa, two of the highest point-getters in the league.
“We ended up not playing teams that we’d played in the past, that we had gotten points from every year,” he said. “Nipissing and Laurentian didn’t play teams at the top of the standings.”
Ryerson ended the season with 18 points, with less than one win separating them the final playoff spot held by sixth-place Carleton University.
Although the Rams finished regular season play on a sour note, Mossavat is confident their talent will shine through next season.
Tessa Dimitrakopoulos, Megan Blodgett and Andrea Raso were recommended by Mossavat to try out for Canada’s World University Games squad.
These players were the only members of the team to win OUA awards last year and they will try out for the team heading for Belgrade, Serbia in the summer of 2009.
Dimitrakopoulos is especially excited.
“It’s a great opportunity whether I do or don’t make it,” she said.
“Practising with some of the best players in the league will be amazing.”
To make sure they make the playoffs next year, Dimitrakopoulos said the team needs to have a better start to the season.
“We’ve always been better the second half of the season. If we started off on the right foot, then we’d improve,” she said.
“We have to start hard from game one. Our goal is to make it in the top four, maybe even the top three.”