Vince D’Elia (far right) celebrates with his teammates after his game-tying goal. Photo: Dasha Zolota

D’Elia lifts Rye over Varsity Blues

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Ryerson’s men’s soccer team trailed U of T for most of the game, but as Victor Ferreira reports, heroics in the game’s dying minutes helped tie the match and salvage a point for the Rams

Deep into injury time, the Ryerson Rams fans that filled the stands of Esther Shiner Stadium were silent, believing that the men’s soccer team was only seconds away from losing to the hated cross-town U of T Varsity Blues. However, the team displayed the perseverence on the field that their fans were lacking.

“We showed heart and determination on the field today,” said Vince D’Elia, Ryerson’s fourth-year midfielder. “We’ve always had the heart, and that’s been [a part] of our team’s identity.”

In the 93rd minute, a long throw-in was flicked on twice until the ball found D’Elia, who was able to beat U of T’s keeper with a header to tie the game and earn the Rams (2-1-1) a point in their 2-2 draw with the Varsity Blues (2-1-1)

From the opening whistle, the game was a heavily contested and heated affair, as both teams battled for possession in the middle of the pitch. U of T managed to keep a firm possession on the ball, and managed to score a goal in the tenth minute on a lob that eluded Rams keeper Christian Maraldo and soared into the back of the net.

Because they were down so early in the match, Ryerson was forced to counterattack, which proved effective as they managed to take advantage of the Varsity Blues’ high defensive line. Right-winger Zach Mahrady placed a clever through ball between the Blues’ defense to find forward Viktor Anastasov, who deftly struck the ball into the far side of the net for his fourth goal in as many games.

The Rams’ goal inspired even more physical play in the midfield, as the two teams exchanged yellow cards, while Rams striker Jamie Baker was lucky to avoid a red card a few minutes after coming into the game.

As tempers flared, the physical play seemed to be escalating to a dangerous level. Head coach Kevin Souter revealed that his halftime message to the team was designed to keep them focused on the game, while calming his players down.

“I had to tell them to stop talking to the referees and to stop giving away needless fouls,” he said.

Despite Souter’s warning, the Rams almost instantly gave up another goal to U of T on a play that was nearly identical to the first goal they had given up earlier.

Going down 2-1 seemed to provide a much needed wake up for the Rams, as they controlled the rest of the game’s tempo, and managed to garner two great scoring opportunities before D’Elia scored the equalizer in injury time.

Varsity Blues head coach Anthony Capotosto was frustrated with the late goal.

“I thought we deserved to win,” said Capotosto. “The goal came off a set piece and we should be really disappointed in our defensive play.”

The tough draw was huge for Ryerson’s young team, as they are set to embark on their first road trip of the season. Over the next few weeks, Ryerson will play four of their five games away from home, including a crucial game against the Queen’s Gaels.

Despite the long road trip, Souter is confident the Rams will have no trouble playing away from home because they don’t have one themselves.

“We don’t have a home,” said Souter. “[This season] we play in a few different [home] stadiums. We get support from family and friends while we’re on the road.”

The Rams will begin their road trip this Saturday at Queen’s. They will then head to RMC before coming back to Esther Shiner Stadium to play against Trent. The road swing will end with a weekend double header at Laurentian and Nipissing.

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