By Peter Ash
Despite allowing a goal within the first 30 seconds of the game, the Ryerson Rams men’s soccer team found a way to get the job done on the road and take a 3-1 win over the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.
Playing as the away team, the Rams picked up their fourth consecutive win on the season and their third straight win over the Varsity Blues (playoffs included).
“Every time we play U of T it’s always a one goal game, a penalty shot or overtime,” said Rams head coach Filip Prostran after Sunday’s matchup. “I’ve always said, what makes a good rivalry is two great programs, and that’s what we had today.”
At first, it seemed like the Rams were going to be in for a long afternoon, after a sloppy turnover turned into a quick goal for the Varsity Blues 25 seconds into the game.
However, that lead wouldn’t last long with the Rams using their speed to get back into the game. In the 9th minute, third-year forward Abdallah El-Chanti bursted through the middle of the field; blowing by a Varsity Blues defender before being taken down by their goalie, Stefan Dusciuc, in the box to draw a penalty.
The captain wouldn’t make a mistake on his opportunity, shooting it past the U of T goalkeeper and into the right corner to level the game at 1-1.
From there on out, the Rams constantly pressed U of T’s backline, forcing them to play on their heels for most of the first half.
After gaining possession from a Varsity Blues turnover, the Rams then made a solid push to the net. A good cross from Ryerson midfielder Sean Fafinski put the ball at the feet of teammate Andrew Dias, who would then control it before putting it into the back of the net to give his team a 2-1 lead at the 26th minute.
The sudden change of pace and aggression caused the home side to get frustrated, leading to a hard foul on Rams defender Nathaniel Tambakis. Unfortunately, the right wing back wouldn’t be able to keep his cool as the match went on, fouling another player and getting sent off with a red card. Despite only having 10 men to start the second half, the Rams continued to play aggressive and force the Varsity Blues to play their game.
This would end up paying dividends for Ryerson, as they’d end up cashing in on a key opportunity in the 57th minute. After forcing the Varsity Blues to commit a foul, the Rams found themselves with a free kick chance just outside of the box. Midfielder Arya Hemati would make sure that the situation didn’t go unnoticed, curling a free kick inside the top right corner to give the Rams some insurance with a 3-1 lead.
“Before we came into the game, (Coach Prostran) told us how he looked at all of the scores of our games against U of T,” Hemati said. “They were all decided on one goal, so getting the third goal to make us go up by two was such an incredible feeling.”
The Varsity Blues would try to crack the Rams’ back line, but they’d come up empty at the end of the 90 minutes.
“Our plan wasn’t to just sit and counter, ” Prostran said. “But when you do, there ends up being a lot of space behind the team with the ball to attack. It helps to have guys like Raheem (Rose), Kussai (Salman) and Diaz who have a lot of speed… because it plays into their game a little bit more.”
UP NEXT: The Rams will look to improve to 5-0 when they take on the Carleton Ravens at Downsview Park. Kick-off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.