By Chris Sanders
Sean Fafinski had only scored one goal in his career at Ryerson before Saturday’s home-opener.
Fortunately for the Rams men’s soccer team, he’d find a way to score his second, giving his group an eventual 2-1 victory over the UOIT Ridgebacks on Saturday afternoon.
Around this time last year, the Rams went undefeated through the first 6 games of the season in spectacular fashion. Then things took an unexpected turn.
Due to a player not meeting the student-athlete academic requirements, Ryerson was forced to forfeit the first six games and wins of their season. The Rams would go on another unbeaten run to finish the season with 9 wins, a draw and the 6 poignant losses which would have changed the landscape of Ryerson’s playoff seeding. Assuming they did meet the academic criteria, the team would have been the first seed in the OUA East.
But now all Ryerson can do is look forward and compete to the same success on the foundation they’ve built.
“Last year, I thought we went the season undefeated,” said Fafinski.
Holding no grudges over the incident, the second-year mid-fielder doesn’t lose any sleep over it.
“That’s ok. We just want to show the rest of the league we’re the best team… this year is our year.”
Despite the troublesome weather and a absent Raheem Rose due to injury, the Rams looked sharp in their first challenge against a gritty Ridgeback side.
The opening minutes couldn’t have gone any better for the Rams; controlling the pace of the game without letting up possession. Before the clock could hit 10 minutes, captain Abdallah El-Chanti found himself racing through a gap in the UOIT defence before burying his first goal of the season to put Ryerson ahead.
But the momentum would eventually shift to the away side, who took advantage of an inexperienced Rams squad.
After gaining possession, UOIT striker George Meditskos finessed a shot farside, off the post and in to tie the game at the 32-minute.
More of the same pursued in the second half, as both teams struggled to capitalize on opportunities and find their groove.
Despite a series of sloppy passes and poor decisions, the Rams would capitalize.
With 3 minutes left of regular time, the ball was slipping and sliding outside the Ridgeback’s penalty box before landing at the feet of Fafinski. Doing no wrong, one touch was all that was needed before blasting it past the keeper for a 2-1 advantage for Ryerson.
“I’m not the first to score a lot of goals,” said Fafinski. “When it comes, it feels so good”.
Fafinski’s heroics would stand as the winner, giving the Rams a solid three points that could go a long way to live up to the standards of last year’s success.
Despite the win, head coach Filip Prostran believes the team is capable of playing better at a higher level,
“It wasn’t pretty,” he said. “There’s something to be said about a first game. We’re fortunate to get out of there with the win.”
At the end of the day, achieving another “undefeated” season may not be realistic with such a young roster. But if anyone is able to handle adversity, it’s going be Prostran and his Rams.
UP NEXT: The Rams will take on Trent University at Downsview Park today at 3:30 p.m.