By Victor Ferreira
Ryerson’s Men’s soccer team began the 2011-2012 season in the same manner in which they ended the previous one: in disappointment.
Playing in front of a rowdy and festive home crowd at Lamport Stadium, the Ryerson Rams lost their first game of the season to the Carleton Ravens of 2-1 on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s a wake up call for us,” said new soccer coordinator and former Major League Soccer midfielder Kevin Souter.
Despite a lively start to the game, the Ravens managed to find the back of keeper Christian Maraldo’s net in the second minute of play, as the Rams’ defense was left frozen after Carleton’s centre back Michael Calof managed to score off of his team’s first corner kick.
Playing in their standard 4-5-1 formation, the Rams were having trouble passing the ball in the midfield, as Carleton’s high line of pressure coupled with the Ryerson’s inability to connect with speedy forward Viktor Anastasov, forced them to solely rely on the individual skill of winger Vince D’Elia to break through the right side of the field.
“My role as a lone striker is to lay the ball [back to the midfield] but it didn’t work well,” said Anastasov. “I would have preferred another forward up front.”
Effort aside, the Rams’ offense was largely ineffective until a clever coaching decision Anastasov his wish and changed the flow of the game.
Souter and his coaching staff decided to switch Ryerson’s formation from a 4-5-1 into a 4-4-2, which ultimately sacrificed defensive stability in the midfield for an extra forward presence. This positioned D’Elia further up the pitch to form a dangerous partnership with Anastasov, as the two began running through Carleton’s centre backs with ease.
“Our midfield wasn’t keeping possession and we had to change the flow offensively,” said Souter. “The 4-5-1 is a formation we play all season but we know that if we want to change to the 4-4-2, we can.”
It didn’t take long for Ryerson to capitalize on having an extra forward.
Off of a free kick from the far right, rookie midfielder Martin Dabrowski played in a pass to Anastasov, who calmly slotted the ball past Carleton’s goalkeeper, Simon Brown, to tie the game in the 49th minute.
Dominating the game for the first 20 minutes of the second half, Ryerson’s comeback lost its momentum when Carleton turned up their physical play.
Shouts for a red card came from the stands of Lamport Stadium when Ravens’ midfielder Joey Kewin flew into a challenge, which connected directly with the ankle of Rams’ midfielder Zach Mahrady and sent him soaring through the air. Kewin was only shown a yellow card.
Flustered by the physical play, Ryerson began to lose their concentration, and in the 83rd minute Carleton forward Andrew Latty cut across Ryerson centre back Dimitri Karopoulos and placed the ball just out of the reach of Maraldo to once again give Carleton the advantage and eventual win.
Despite the loss, Souter is taking several positives from the game.
“Our defensive zonal shape was great,” said Souter. “We didn’t get broken down against a top team and we had almost all our first year players get minutes.”
Anastasov believes the team still has room to grow.
“We will only get better,” said Anastasov. “We’re the weakest we can be right now, and in my opinion that’s still not bad.”