By Daniel Rocchi
A spirited second half was not enough to rally Ryerson’s women’s soccer team to victory against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, as the Rams fell 4-1 at Varsity Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
In losing, the Rams (0-5-0) failed to climb out of last place in the OUA East and are still seeking their first win of the season.
But the game was far closer than the final score indicates, thanks to a drastic half-time turnaround in Ryerson’s play.
“We didn’t quite hit the ground running in the first half and because of that we were punished,” said Rams head coach Kevin Souter. “We had that change in the second half, because we came out guns blazing. I thought we had four or five legitimate chances in about a twenty-minute span that could have turned the game, but it didn’t happen today.”
The Rams started strong, penetrating deep into U of T territory less than a minute into the game. Ryerson came close to getting a shot on goal, but the Varsity Blues (3-1-1) managed to stifle the early attack.
After that, U of T dominated ball possession with well-executed passing, working their way towards the Ryerson net.
The Rams defence kept them to the outside efficiently, but the Varsity Blues found a chink in the armour in the sixteenth minute when a long cross from the right side became a Ryerson own-goal.
U of T mid-fielder Claudia Piazza made it 2-0 just two minutes later on a powerful shot to the upper-right corner of the net from more than 30 yards out.
The Varsity Blues tightened up defensively after netting back-to-back tallies, and the Rams faced a two-goal deficit at halftime.
It didn’t get much better for Ryerson when U of T forward Brenda Murillo made it 3-0 in the forty-ninth minute.
Then the Rams found their feet.
Ryerson captain Sarah Slattery got her team on the board in the fifty-eighth minute, heading home her first goal of the season.
“We played Laurentian a couple of weeks ago and came out of a 2-0 deficit to tie and then lose in the last five seconds,” said the fourth-year defender. “I said, ‘guys, we’ve done it before. Don’t stop, keep going.’”
Barely five minutes after Slattery’s goal, Ryerson striker Sarah Harvey nearly made it a one-goal game when she got in behind U of T goaltender Sonia Ralston on a cross, but the ball bounced out of her reach.
Less than a minute later, Rams forward Janica Adams hit the goalpost almost immediately after substituting into the game, while the Rams forced Ralston to make three spectacular saves in under a minute near the seventy-minute mark.
U of T added a late goal from forward Zoe Carty in the seventy-third minute and Ralston foiled Rams midfielder Rebecca Arnott’s breakaway in the eighty-second to preserve the Varsity Blues’ second win in as many games.
The Rams will face Queen’s University next on Saturday, Sept. 20 at 1 p.m. at Monarch Park Stadium.
“Our game today, we learned that we can play with teams like this,” said Slattery. “Our record is 0-5; we’re not a 0-5 team.”
For more game photos, click here.