By Luke Galati
Having beaten the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Ridgebacks in their previous meeting 2-0, the Ryerson men’s soccer team knew that they were capable of doing it again.
But instead, UOIT won their third straight, 3-0, and Ryerson lost their second in three games.
With the victory, UOIT earned a playoff spot for the time being and Ryerson maintained first place in the OUA East. No real harm was done by the loss, as Ryerson only needs one win to secure first place in the division, but for associate coach Filip Prostran, lately his team’s play is concerning.
“Going into the playoffs, we are definitely not peaking, we are definitely not in form, not the way you want to go into the playoffs,” he said. “We have been in a little bit of a funk lately, but the way we rebound from these moments will really show the character of this team.”
In the 23rd minute, UOIT striker Joe Vaz was the recipient of an errant clearing attempt off of Ryerson defender Cedric Wong’s head. Vaz spun a full 360 into the ball, scoring a gorgeous volley off of his left foot into the top left corner of the net.
Ryerson had their chances, with several rushes led by Martin Dabrowski and Raheem Rose in the first half. Luka Lee in the second half acted as a spark plug, igniting the right flank with energy.
Ryerson outshot UOIT 18-8, but the Rams couldn’t finish and at times were exposed by UOIT’s midfield and precision passing.
This was no better in the 57th minute, as UOIT seamlessly picked apart Ryerson’s backline and ended the play with forward George Meditskos sliding into the ball, guiding it past Ryerson keeper Christian Maraldo.
The Rams had their chances, but couldn’t beat UOIT keeper Travis Martin, who earned his third clean sheet of the season.
To add insult to injury, in the 84th minute, Ryerson keeper Christian Maraldo was caught way outside of his crease playing a ball, which was blocked by UOIT’s Alexander Cuccovillo, and resulted in the Ridgeback’s third goal, which was the nail in the coffin.
“It took us to go down to goals before we actually showed some heart and when you can’t finish anything, obviously the frustration builds,” Maraldo said.
“I guess we didn’t think they’d come out like that. We didn’t think that we were going to work as hard as they did,” Lee said. “I guess we weren’t really prepared for them.”
Despite the loss, to clinch first place in the OUA East, Ryerson only needs one win this weekend.
But Prostran thinks it’s important to try and get his team back on track before the playoffs next weekend.
“You’ve got to be firing on all cylinders in the playoffs, one game knockout. That can be your season so no, we’re not firing on all cylinders,” Prostran said. “We’re not playing the right way, working the right way and we’ve got a lot of work to do in a short amount of time.”
Lee is optimistic that the Rams can get out of the funk that they’re in before playoffs begin.
“We have the talent, we have the skill, and it’s just a matter of putting it all together again,” he said. “That’s not to say that it’s fallen apart though.”
The Rams will play against Laurentian this Saturday and against Nipissing on Sunday before their first playoff game next week.