By Daniel Rocchi
The women’s soccer season is barely five weeks old, and with 11 first-years on its 27-player roster, familiarity is a scarce commodity for this year’s Rams team.
But there’s a trio of rookies on Ryerson’s defensive line that look like they’ve played together for years—because they have.
Before coming to Ryerson this fall, Erin Dicaire, Lindsey Hoffman and Madi Foote were teammates with the Darlington Fusion Soccer Club of the Ontario Youth Soccer League. All three were members of the Under-16 team that won a national championship in 2014 before winning an Ontario Cup provincial title with the U18 squad this past summer.
The Rams are hoping they can build around that winning experience.
“Any time you’re looking to move from average or below average to excellence, the first thing you need is talent,” said Rams head coach and Ryerson athletics director Ivan Joseph. “It doesn’t matter how great a coaching staff or how outstanding the facility is—if you don’t have talent, you don’t have the basic, fundamental building blocks.”
Foote slots in as a central midfielder or defender, depending on the situation, between fullbacks Dicaire and Hoffman. As kids, Dicaire and Foote played house league and rep soccer together, and both attended Maxwell Heights Secondary School in Oshawa. They met Hoffman when they joined Darlington, and the three believe their time with the club gives them an advantage on the field.
“We all know how we play,” said Dicaire. “If I get the ball, Lindsey knows what I’m doing on the other side and Madi … knows exactly what I’m doing … which helps a lot.”
For Foote, it comes down to trust. “I know [they’re] going to get the ball,” she said.
With each earning starting roles on the team in their first year of Ontario University Athletics (OUA) eligibility, Dicaire, Hoffman and Foote could form a key group on Ryerson’s defense for the next several seasons as the Rams attempt to transform themselves into a contender.
While the men’s team has become a perennial powerhouse, with three OUA Final Four appearances in the past three seasons, the women’s side hasn’t been able to establish sustained success.
Ryerson’s women’s team has made the playoffs three times since the OUA formed in 1997, with their last postseason appearance coming during the 2011-2012 season. Since the OUA formed, the team has never posted a winning regular-season record.
But with a large crop of promising rookies, anchored on the back end by Dicaire, Hoffman and Foote, Rams associate coach Tina Cook believes the team has a bright future.
“This is almost like our Year One,” said Cook. “We’ve had a big changeover in the team and this year is a large recruiting class with a lot of new faces, so in a sense this is our [first] foundation year of building our new team and our new culture.”
Cook says each of the three brings something unique to the field, pointing to Foote’s ability to initiate offense as a playmaker, Dicaire’s gritty and physical playing style and Hoffman’s precision when it comes to corner kicks and other set pieces. But she also sees a common trait between them.
“All three have a high soccer IQ,” she said. “You can see that they read the game and they understand the game.”
That intellectual approach should serve the trio well off the field too, with Dicaire studying biology and Hoffman and Foote taking biomedical science.
The girls have most of their classes together, and often do their schoolwork outside of class together. Since their schedules compliment each other, they also conduct group workouts and training sessions outside of regular team activities.
It’s that work ethic that Cook believes will lead all three of them to do great things with the Rams.
“Any one of them could be a legitimate contender for [OUA] Rookie of the Year,” she said. “Their future is bright.”