By Brandon Buechler
Ryerson’s men’s soccer team’s rollercoaster 2017-2018 regular season–arguably one of the most controversial in Ryerson sports history–is over.
With a resounding 4-0 victory against Kingston’s Royal Military College (RMC), the Rams secured their position in the 2017 OUA playoffs, where they’ll be playing for their first provincial title in program history and a chance to reach nationals for the first time since 2013.
It was a resounding bookend to a near-perfect season that saw the men’s squad forfeit six of its games—five victories and a tie—due to fielding an academically ineligible player in September.
The Rams went from defending division champions, perched atop the OUA East, to an eighth-place squad with their playoff position in jeopardy. They responded by not suffering a loss in their 10 remaining games—nine wins and one tie—which included Saturday night’s victory to secure the third seed in their division.
Playing on their home turf at Downsview Park, Ryerson kept the Paladins (0-13-3) winless this season behind two goals from Kussai Salman and a combined shutout performance from their goalkeepers Alex Christie and Greg Zatulovsky.
During an offense-heavy first half, Salman opened the scoring in the 4th minute, finding the back of the net against Paladin’s keeper Arman Afkham-Ebrahim.
Salman’s goal was followed by Ryerson’s Alex Meczarski and Akibul Hoque scoring goals of their own in the 15th and 23rd minutes respectively, before Salman kicked the door down in the 36th minute with his second of the night.
In the second, with Ryerson holding a commanding 4-0 lead, it was all defence on both sides; Ryerson managed another four shots while RMC had just six all game.
It was a perfect end, after it appeared at one point that the Rams season was all but over. Had they not forfeited their early matches, Ryerson would have had their first undefeated regular-season record since 2013.
Now, the men look toward the playoffs where, standings and box-scores aside, Ryerson is expected to be a serious contender for first-place and a position in the 2017 U Sports championship in British Columbia.
The third-place Rams (9-6-1) will host the sixth-place Queen’s University Gaels (6-7-3) to begin their playoff run—the same team they defeated to secure home-field advantage this weekend.
The Rams and Gaels faced each other twice during the regular season, with Ryerson taking both victories and outscoring their opponents 5-1, the most recent being a 2-1 victory on Friday.
Up Next: The Rams will play Wednesday Oct. 25 against Queen’s, with the time of their match yet to be decided.