By Harlan Nemerofsky
Despite losing their weekend home-stand to kick off the regular season, the Ryerson Rams women’s soccer team is happy with the effort they left on the field, if not the result.
The Rams (0-2-0), who finished dead-last in the Ontario University Athletics’ (OUA) east division with four points last year, played a competitive 180 minutes as they nearly avenged losses against two divisional rivals from the nation’s capital.
“It would have been nice to come away from this weekend with some points on the board, but we had not such a good season last year, and we made changes this year based on that,” said Kevin Souter, the Rams’ head coach. “It’s a young team with a lot of first-year players coming in and showing some growth.”
In Saturday’s home opener, forwards Krista Draycott and Faythe Lou scored for Ottawa as the Gee-Gees shutout the Ryerson Rams 2-0 at Monarch Park Stadium.
The Rams, who were playing their first regular season game in their new home stadium, managed just one shot the entire match, which came towards the end of the first half. However, the Rams, who lost to the reigning OUA Champion Gee-Gees (2-0-0) 6-0 last season, dominated in possession and pace in the second half.
“[It was a] night and day difference in the second half,” said Souter. “At half-time, we just explained to them that our objective was to just have a clean sheet in the second half and we knew that the intensity had to pick up. [The players] were more connected, they were more vocal, and there was a bit more leadership out there.”
Ten Rams, including goaltender Rebecca Petrocelli, who made five stops on seven attempts, made their OUA debuts in the loss. The last time the Rams won a regular season game was on Sept. 9 of last year versus the Royal Military College Paladins.
On Sunday, the Rams lost their second straight game in the opening weekend series as the Carleton Ravens used a late goal to sink the Rams, 2-1, on home turf.
After Ryerson’s Nicole Paiva tied the game in the 78th minute, Carleton’s Adrianna Ruggiero scored her second goal of the match in the 87th minute for the game-winner.
“As a coach I felt robbed today and as a team we felt robbed,” said Souter. “As a coach, I think you work so hard in a game, and both goals that we lost were a little bit sloppy on our part. I think in the second half we put out a great effort and we dominated the bulk of it [but] it would have been nice to come away with this weekend with some points on the board.”
Paiva, a first-year from Waterloo, Ont., netted the Rams first goal for the team this year on a line drive penalty kick to the left, following a Carleton handball violation within the box.
The Rams were blanked 1-0 the last time these two teams clashed a season ago.
“It’s upsetting [to lose both games], but if you look at where we were last season, we’ve improved so much,” said fifth-year midfielder Erica Huculak, the oldest member of the team. “One year ago we lost six-nothing to Ottawa and now it’s two-nothing. One year ago we didn’t get on the score sheet against Carleton or keep possession.”
“I wouldn’t say it’s a disappointment. We’ll look at our improvement, we can only get better and I think that’s the direction we’re going.”
The Rams resume action next weekend, when they face the Laurentian Voyageurs and the Nipissing Lakers back at Monarch Park Stadium.
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