By Daniel Rocchi
The Ryerson men’s soccer team continued its winning ways on Sunday afternoon, defeating their rival the University of Toronto Varsity Blues 2-1 at Varsity Stadium.
With the win, the Rams improve to 5-0-0 for the season, and climb within one point of Queen’s University (5-0-1) for first place in the OUA East.
But it could have been a very different story for the Rams, who had to come from behind to win after a sluggish start had them trailing early.
“The most important thing is you don’t panic,” said Ryerson head coach Ivan Joseph. “You don’t change your emotion on the bench, you don’t react to the goal; it’s just a matter of what always happens and you continue to play.”
The match became rough early, as Rams second-year forward Marko Miketic went down less than two minutes into the game after taking a cleat to his right upper shin.
Miketic, who dressed in all 14 games of the 2012 season for the Varsity Blues, was down for more than a minute but stayed in the game.
U of T forward Mario Kovacevic received one of his team’s two yellow cards of the day.
“It was a bit of a wake-up call, like it’s game on,” said Miketic after the game. “We’re on the field, we’re enemies. Outside the field it might be different, but a great game and I wouldn’t have expected anything else; just a tough game.”
The physicality continued, culminating in an injury to U of T starting goalkeeper Rab Bruce-Lockhart in the tenth minute.
Coming out to challenge Rams forward Viktor Anastasov on a partial breakaway, Bruce-Lockhart collided with the striker and flipped over Anastasov’s back.
Bruce-Lockhart lay on the field for almost two minutes with team medical staff before leaving the field under his own strength.
Mark Rogal replaced Bruce-Lockhart in net, finishing with four saves.
U of T forward Kilian Elkinson opened the scoring at the twenty-nine-minute mark, finishing on a low cross from teammate Russell Rodrigues.
The goal seemed to deflate the Rams, who struggled to maintain any offensive pressure, while Rams midfielder Martin Dabrowski had to head the ball away from the Ryerson goal line to keep the deficit at one.
But Miketic got vengeance in the forty-fourth minute, burying his team-leading fourth goal of the season against his former team to tie it 1-1 at halftime.
Ryerson carried their momentum from Miketic’s tally into the second half as midfielder Raheem Rose put them up 2-0 in the 52nd minute, sliding to finish on his first career CIS goal.
Rams goalkeeper Christian Maraldo, who had looked shaky early on, helped the Rams maintain their composure from that point, finishing with three saves and neutralizing many dangerous U of T corner kicks and crosses.
“The beginning was a lot slower than we’re used to playing,” said Maraldo. “I think that was one of our worst games of the season, but we were able to come back and fight it out; it was definitely a good effort by the boys.”
The Rams take on UOIT on Wednesday at Vaso’s Field in Oshawa at 7 p.m., when they put their season-long win streak on the line.
According to their coach, that’s no concern of theirs.
“What streak?” said Joseph.
For more game photos, click here.