By Brandon Buechler
It was a tale of two seasons for the Ryerson women’s soccer team (6-9-1) this year.
The women played to a dismal 2-6 record through the first eight contests of the season, struggling in all aspects of the game. But by the end they were fighting for a playoff spot and missed by just one point.
“When you come in with a young team, it takes a while to gel,” said head coach Kevin Souter. “We couldn’t quite figure out our system of play and our best formation.”
Souter added that early matches against strong teams like Toronto and Ottawa didn’t help the situation either.
“Confidence played a big part in it,” he said. “It was a difficult start to the season.”
However the Rams seemed to find their identity during the season’s home stretch, finishing with a 4-3-1 record in the last eight games.
Their first win came against Queen’s University, the first time a Ryerson women’s soccer team had defeated the Gaels. Then, near the season’s end, the women handed the No. 2 ranked University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) their only loss of the season.
Entering the final weekend of play, the team was tied with Laurentian for the final playoff spot. But a 1-0 loss to the Voyageurs pushed Ryerson out of a playoff spot for the third straight season.
Team captain and second team all-star Sarah Slattery credited the team’s revival to Ivan Joseph, Ryerson’s director of athletics and the head coach of the men’s team.
Joseph temporarily joined the coaching staff after the teams five-game slide to begin the season.
“He brought new energy to the team,” she said. “He picked up our intensity, and practices were like night and day. Then we started winning.”
Slattery said that Joseph gave the women a shot in the arm and Souter’s strategy steered them towards better results.
“[Souter’s] a smart coach, he knows the game well,” Slattery said. “It’ll be good to have him back next season — hopefully we’ll make the playoffs.”
Outgoing defenseman Amy Tahmizian said although missing the playoffs in her last season was disappointing, she was still proud of the team’s efforts.
“Great things happened this season… Alex Rodkin was named [Canadian Interuniversity Sport] athlete of the week and we defeated Queen’s and UOIT,” she wrote in an email. “I don’t think anyone could be upset with the season.”
Tahmizian said though she’s done her soccer career with Ryerson, she’d like to stay as involved as she can with the team.
“I’m their biggest fan and there’s no way they’re getting rid of me that easy,” she said.
Looking ahead to next season, rookie forward Rodkin said there is always room for improvement.
“We need to work on putting the game away,” she said. “We lost a lot of close games, so we just need to learn to get that extra point.”
Souter said the team should improve significantly next season with the year of experience under their belts.
“We’re going to have a young team again but they’ve got a lot of minutes on the pitch,” he said. “And finishing with a win allows us to go into the off-season strong.”