By Luke Galati
The Ryerson men’s soccer team (7-0-0) held onto first place in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) east division with a 1-0 win over the Queen’s Gaels Saturday.
With both sides in a stalemate, the tipping point came thanks to Jamie Baker’s goal in the 83rd minute.
Baker, the OUA rookie of the year in 2011-12, was forced to sit out the past two seasons due to a knee injury, but this Saturday he looked like a man on a mission.
In the 53rd minute, Baker chased down a Queen’s defender on the left flank– sprinting like a mad man – and picked the defender’s pocket. Just outside of the box, and half a second before he could take the shot, he was hauled down by Queen’s Robert Lannan.
The ref, who seemed influenced by Ryerson fans demanding justice, ultimately showed Lannan a red card.
“We thought they were a little weak in the back and couldn’t hang onto the ball very well, so for me coming in for the team my job was to put a lot of energy and inject some pace into the game,” Baker said.
Ryerson’s leading goal scorer and offensive catalyst, Marko Miketic, led a few rushes, but none of the chances could beat Queen’s keeper, Max Materne, who made a number of sprawling saves.
But Materne’s luck would run out in the 83rd, thanks to Baker.
Ryerson’s Martin Dabrowski found himself in the Queen’s box, turned the defender and crossed it right onto Baker’s head, for him to guide the ball right off the crossbar and into the back of the net.
Baker’s goal would prove to be the difference maker, as the Rams remained undefeated on the season.
“Obviously the hardest thing was coming back, it’s been almost three years now and today was the first day I felt I could actually contribute on the field, but what’s more important to me is what I can produce for the team,” Baker said.
“He’s just getting back into forms, dusting off the cobwebs,” associate coach Filip Prostran said. “He’s a great energy guy and his passion on the field is unmatched.”
While the win felt nice, Baker went on to say that Ryerson has to stay focused on the ultimate goal — the playoffs.
“Right now it doesn’t really mean anything, nothing really means anything until playoffs, but it’s a good start and a good feeling to be first,” Baker said.
Ryerson keeper Christian Maraldo had another astounding game, earning his fifth clean sheet of his final OUA season.
Kyle Stewart also had a great game on the backline, which has been rock solid all season for the Rams.
Prostran said that maintaining first place in the standings means every team is gunning to beat them, and that, “we’ve got no easy games because we’re getting everyone’s best game’s every single time.”
“[The win] wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it,” Prostran said.
The Rams will be playing at home again on Sunday against the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), currently the last place team in the OUA east.