By Chris Sanders
The Ryerson Rams women’s soccer team drew 1-1 against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues on Saturday.
Heading into the Downtown Toronto derby, the Varsity Blues held the final playoff spot in the East division; a four point advantage over the Rams who sat with 11 points. The rest of the East already booked their ticket to the postseason, leaving both sides clashing in arguably their most important game of the season.
The Rams’ opening minutes displayed a playoff hungry squad; winning defensive battles and creating solid goal scoring opportunities.
Both teams traded counter attacks, neither converting, but coming oh so close to breaking the scoreless deadlock.
Carrying the Rams in the first-half was rookie defender Keira Kent, who made crucial tackles leading to Ryerson’s offensive build up.
In the 21st minute, the Varsity Blues sent a soaring shot that fell out of the hands of goalkeeper Elisa Lapadula and skid along the goal line, before a diving clearance from the goalkeeper kept it out of the net.
The first-half would end in a 0-0 scoreline.
Ryerson was in much need of a hero to keep their playoff hopes in reach. In the 82’ minute midfielder Anastasia Grekos opened the scoring after pouncing on a loose ball following a Rams free-kick.
“I saw an opportunity to strike it,” said Grekos. “It was a one touch kind of hit. It felt so good, but again you can’t celebrate too much cause you have to focus on the last 10 minutes.”
Grekos’ heroics were short lived, standing as the game winner for six minutes before Toronto equalized with a goal of their own to sustain their four point edge over the home side in the standings.
“We did our job,” said Rams head coach Natalie Bukovec. “We switched off for a few seconds and got scored on from a set piece…”
Another trip to the playoffs is nearly out of the team’s control for the most part. With two games remaining against the Nipissing Lakers and Laurentian Voyageurs, it’ll be imperative for Ryerson to win both of their remaining games if they want to have any chance of keeping their season alive.
The Varsity Blues, on the other hand, share the same schedule as their Toronto rival. Winning at least one would clinch an OUA playoff berth. However, if both teams are tied in points at end of the season, the league will calculate which of the two has a greater win percentage.
Because there’s a possibility both squads can end with the same win/loss record and match goal differential, it’s likely the determining factor would boil down to head-to-head play; where the Varsity Blues took a 2-0 victory in their first meeting.
Despite the circumstances, the interim head coach states it’s a developmental process and she’s not concerned with this year’s results.
“It’s a long term process. Rome wasn’t built in a day and we’re a young team. I’m extremely pleased to know the team believe in the process just as bad as I do.”
UP NEXT: The Rams will next take on the Laurentian Voyageurs at Downsview Park on Oct 20. Kick-off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.