Photo: Bryan Meler

Rye highs: The top Rams moments of the year

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By Dan Rocchi

Men’s basketball defends OUA gold, Earns national silver

When the Rams won Ryerson’s first OUA championship last season, they did so in the familiar confines of Coca-Cola Court in front of their home fans. To defend their title this year, they had to beat Carleton at the Ravens’ Nest. Ryerson hadn’t beaten the Ravens at home since January 2000, while Carleton entered the OUA gold medal game with a 21-0 record.

Bolstered by a 29-point performance from Adika Peter-McNeilly and 24 second-half points from fellow guard Ammanuel Diressa, the Rams secured the improbable 86-79 road win to claim their second straight OUA title.

One week after taking the OUA crown, the Rams travelled to Halifax to go head-to-head with the country’s best squads for the national title. Ryerson came away from the last two national tournaments with bronze medals, and was looking for its first-ever appearance in the gold medal game. The top-seeded Rams beat the Saint Mary’s Huskies and the host Dalhousie Tigers in a pair of tight games to earn a spot in the finals against none other than the Carleton Ravens.

Carleton came out firing, leading by 24 points late  in the third quarter. The Rams got to within six points, but Carleton pulled away to win 78-69, earning their seventh straight national title.

The Rams’ U Sports silver medal is the best finish in program history, and just the second national silver in Ryerson history.

Women’s curling earns trip to nationals

With a 1-3 record through their first four games of the OUA championship tournament in February, the Rams needed to win all three of their remaining round-robin games to have a hope of making the playoffs. Ryerson went 3-0 to secure the final playoff spot in their pool.

An impressive quarter-final upset of the Brock Badgers—who won OUA silver in 2016 and were 7-0 in round-robin play—and a semi-final victory over Carleton sent Ryerson to the gold medal game. The Rams lost that game to Laurentian, but their silver medal finish earned them a berth in the U Sports national championship in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Ryerson went 2-5 in the round robin, missing the U Sports playoff round. But qualifying for nationals was an unprecedented step forward for a club that didn’t exist two seasons ago.

Women’s volleyball hosts U Sports final 8

The top women’s volleyball teams in Canadian university athletics played under the bright lights of the Mattamy Athletic Centre when Ryerson hosted the U Sports national tournament in March.

As the host school, Ryerson automatically qualified for the tournament, despite a last-place finish at the OUA Final Four. It marked the Rams’ first appearance at nationals since 2002. Last season, they barely missed out on a berth at the tournament when they lost to the University of Toronto in the OUA gold medal game.

Ryerson finished the regular season with a 15-4 record, but dropped their tournament-opening game to Alberta in straight sets, putting an end to their championship aspirations. UBC took home the gold as Ryerson lost its consolation semi-final match against Dalhousie to close out the season.

Men’s soccer wins 13 straight

With an OUA championship game appearance in 2013 and two Final Four berths in as many seasons since, the Rams entered this season with high expectations. But no one was expecting Ryerson to kick off the year with 13 straight wins, the longest winning streak in team history.

Over their 13-game winning streak, the Rams outscored their opponents by an astounding combined score of 45-3, helping them finish the year with the second-highest goal total in the OUA and a league-best eight goals against.

The Rams finally lost on Oct. 12: a 2-1 defeat at the hands of their crosstown rivals at the University of Toronto. Ryerson clinched first place in the OUA East for the fourth straight season, finishing the regular season with a 14-1-1 record before losing in the Final Four.

Women’s hockey beats Queen’s

Coming into the 2016-2017 campaign, the Rams had at least one win against 10 of the other 12 teams in the OUA. Ryerson was 0-6 all-time against the Nipissing Lakers and 0-12 against the Queen’s Gaels.

On Nov. 12, the Rams rolled into Kingston riding a two-game losing streak, having lost four of their last five games.

With the Rams down 2-0 in the second period, Sarah McGilvray and Blair Malthaner both scored their first goals of the season to tie the game. The Gaels retook the lead early in the third period, but goals from Malthaner and Kryshanda Green gave the Rams a 4-3 win for their first-ever victory against Queen’s.

The Rams lost both of the year’s games against Nipissing, but beat Queen’s in a February shootout at home for a historic season sweep.

Record year for men’s hockey

There was plenty of uncertainty surrounding the Rams as they entered a season without (now-retired) head coach Graham Wise behind the bench for the first time in a decade.

But under interim head coach Johnny Duco, the Rams set program records with 136 goals scored and 22 wins for a 22-4-2 regular season record—the best record in the OUA.

Aaron Armstrong set a new single-season record with an OUA-best 46 points, and team captain Michael Fine made his last season at Ryerson his best. Posting career highs in goals, assists and points, Fine finished his career as Rams men’s hockey’s all-time leading scorer with 134 points in 124 regular season games.

Ryerson beat Waterloo in the first round of the playoffs before losing to Windsor in the OUA West semi-final.

Fast pitch makes Rye debut

After a year of fundraising, organizing and advocating, the women’s fastpitch team played its inaugural season as an official Ryerson club in 2016.

On Sept. 9, Carly Forrester scored the first run in team history in the second inning of the team’s first game, a 12-5 extra-innings loss to Queen’s. Their second game—played that same  night as part of a doubleheader against the Gaels—ended prematurely when the lights at Dieppe Park shut off in the fifth inning, leaving the Rams with a 6-2 loss.

The Rams got their first two wins as members of the Ontario Intercollegiate Women’s Fastpitch Association just two days later, sweeping a doubleheader against York.

Ryerson finished its inaugural regular season with a 7-15 record, missing the playoffs.

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