By Daniel Morand
Ryerson’s men’s soccer team advanced to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Championship for the first time in program history after defeating the Windsor Lancers 1-0 at a sodden Birchmount Park Stadium Saturday in the OUA semi- finals.
With the win, Ryerson will compete for Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Championship in Fredericton, N.B., from Nov. 7-10.
The undefeated Rams (12-0-2) controlled possession for most of the first half, posting four shots on net before Martin Dabrowski closed the half with a goal at the 45-minute mark.
First-team all-star veteran Michael Jan was rewarded a free kick inside Lancers (7-3–6) territory, and passed the ball to Viktor Anastasov on the right flank. A Lancers defensive breakdown left Martin Dabrowski open for a pass at the top left corner of the box.
The third-year midfielder made no mistake on Lancers goaltender Dejo Olagbegi— scoring his fifth goal of the season to give the Rams a 1-0 lead on the very last play before halftime.
Possession was balanced in the second half, as Ryerson’s offensive prowess was limited to three shots on goal.
At the 57-minute mark Lancers defender Derrick Amankwa was on the receiving end of a pass that pushed him deep behind Rams defence. But Amankwa ran out of space as a diving Christian Maraldo left his box to defuse the play.
Windsor nearly scored the tying goal in the latter minutes of the second-half when they earned a corner kick that led to a dangerous scramble inside the Rams box.
The Lancers had numerous mishandled chances that resulted in zero shots on goal in the game.
“I feel like I didn’t have any direct shots, our defense played phenomenal and denied all their chances,” said veteran goaltender Christian Maraldo.
The veteran rich Rams have five defensemen in their final year. A CIS championship birth is a chance for Rams veterans to avenge last year’s quarterfinal loss against Carleton.
“Having a big win like this is a big milestone for the program,” said Rams associate head coach Filip Prostran. “You want them to happy but you don’t want them to be content and over celebratory because they’ve got a chance to do something that Ryerson has never done before.”
The No.2 Rams will resume Final Four action tomorrow against the No.3 York Lions in the OUA gold medal game at 2 p.m.
A Rams win in tomorrow’s gold medal game would be Ryerson’s first ever OUA championship.
“We’re going to play the same style we always play,” said Rams second-team all-star Josh Kohn. “They’re a good team and their going to come out hard, but there’s no one we can’t beat.”