In his first season as the head coach of both the men’s and women’s soccer teams, Kevin Souter has brought them both to their best finishes in school history. Jeremy Lin reports
It has been a historic year for both of Ryerson’s soccer programs, as 2011 marks the first season that both the men’s and women’s teams have made the playoffs at the same time. The men’s team finished the regular season in second place for the first time in team history, while the women made their first playoff appearance in five years.
This is also the first year that Kevin Souter, 27, has assumed the full time coaching duties for both the men’s and women’s teams as the coordinator for soccer programs. Souter, a former All-American midfielder with Graceland University, spent two seasons with Major League Soccer’s Kansas City Wizards before coming to Ryerson last summer.
When he initially joined the men’s soccer team, Souter served as a hybrid player-coach, a role that was created to groom him for his eventual succession of reigning Ontario University Athletics (OUA) coach of the year Ivan Joseph. Souter, who played under Joseph at Graceland University, admits that his understanding of Joseph’s coaching philosophy allowed him to have an open soundboard for input and feedback about the program with his mentor.
Souter brings a unique dynamic as a coach because of his past involvement as a player and relative youth, but he believes that everyone on last year’s team knew what his role was.
“I think I came into the program mostly as a coach,” said Souter. “I used my last year of eligibility to benefit the team but I maintained a coaching persona. I didn’t socialize [with the team], it was strictly business.”
Although Souter took over the full-time coaching duties at the end of last season, Joseph is still heavily involved in engineering the strategic and practical direction of the soccer programs.
“I am not far removed,” said Joseph. “[Souter] is in a role where I see him being mentored for another year at least. The first year you don’t really see the difference a coach makes but he can only grow from here.”
After losing two first-team OUA all-stars in the midfield, Joseph and Souter utilized a game plan that bypassed the midfield, which is made up of mostly first year players, when moving the ball. This strategy has lead to more scoring, but has also conceded more goals.
The women’s team lost 3-0 to the University of Toronto Blues last Wednesday in the first round of the playoffs. Their early exit also brought an end to the five-year career of Andrea Raso, the only female CIS all-Canadian that a Ryerson team has ever produced.
Meanwhile, the men dominated their first game against Trent in a 5-0 win, but eventually lost in the conference semis to the University of Toronto Blues in a shoot out. This loss ended their playoff bid just short of an OUA final four appearance.
Souter believes the future is bright for Ryerson soccer but feels that the program is hindered by the lack of a proper practice facility on campus.
“We have no soccer field on campus, so we don’t have the luxury of flexibility. I don’t think there was one practice this year where every player was able to make it,” said Souter.
“But we work with what we have. Both teams set targets and goals and we’re becoming a program that elevates every season. We’re consistently competing and [winning] against of some of the very best teams.”