Last Sunday, the men’s soccer team finished to a 2-2 draw versus the University of Toronto. With just two games remaining in the regular season, the Rams can lock up third place in the OUA East with just a single win. Gabriel Lee spoke to all-star defender Michael Jan about the season and upcoming playoffs.
Eye: Has the team performed up to expectations thus far this season?
Jan: The team has been playing great this year, right now we are on an 11 game unbeaten streak. The only downside is that we have been tying a lot of games after having a lead. Now that playoffs are around the corner, team defense and protecting the lead is our number one priority.
What are your aspirations for the team, with the OUA and CIS championships around the corner?
This is the best team that I have ever played with. After outplaying many nationally ranked teams, we know we are one of the best teams in the country. Our number one goal is to qualify for nationals. We want to win the OUA championship and once we make it to nationals we pretty much will have a 50/50 chance at winning it all. We’re that good.
The first time you played U of T this season, it was the first time Ryerson had beaten them in almost 17 years. Can you describe the atmosphere in the locker room after that win?
It was a great feeling. It was especially more important to the veterans on the team. We’ve been so close to beating them so many times [so] to finally do it and show we’re the top dog in Toronto is a good feeling. Especially after the last time we played them – when they knocked us out in the playoffs in penalties [kicks].
How important has the return of former CIS all-star Alex Braletic been?[Alex] is the heart of this team and a lot of the guys look up to him, not only as a player but also as a leader. Having him back is a huge boost to the morale of the team.
Obviously the opening of the new athletic centre has been exciting, but does the team feel short-changed at all with the lack of facilities devoted towards soccer?
No one on the team feels short-changed because the weight room is state-of-the-art [and] we finally have our own change room in the building. With the MAC finally being opened, it will give so much more exposure to varsity athletics and get our fellow students to come out to games not only at the MAC but also to our games off-campus.
What’s it like to have your brother Luke on the team?
It’s great having my younger brother on the team. We have a great relationship and I think it helps the team’s chemistry because it brings everyone closer and feel like a family. I’m proud to be playing and training alongside Luke day in and day out because before [playing for] Ryerson we never had that. And it for sure gives the team lots of entertainment when we have our brotherly arguments.
What is your fondest memory as a Ram?[It was] two years ago when we went to the OUA Final Four. That was the proudest moment of my athletic career up to this point. Even though we didn’t make it to nationals, the amount of fight and resilience we had as a team – going two men down (red cards) and scoring against Western in the 120th minute to take the game to penalty kicks was a battle that I’m proud to be a part of. I think those experiences have taught us lessons that we will for sure use in the upcoming playoff games.
Any big plans after graduation?
I’m graduating this coming spring and it’s scary to think about it. Grad school is a major possibility but I have no plans as of yet. I actually have one more year of eligibility [left]… don’t be surprised if I come back next year.