By Joseph Casciaro
Sometimes, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. That was the case for the Ryerson Rams women’s basketball team this season.
Coming off an amazing 2018-19 campaign that saw them finish 17-5, the Rams showed that they were a strong team throughout the year.
As the hosts of the U SPORTS Women’s Final 8, Ryerson looked to build on their successful regular season.
Sadly, they came up short in the tournament to number one-seeded Laval in the quarterfinals. Of course, losing to Laval is nothing to be ashamed of; they’re an extremely talented group of athletes that featured defensive player of the year Khaleann Caron-Goudreau and player of the year Sarah-Jane Marois.
“We’d certainly like to have that Laval game back, because I think we could give them a better shot than we did that night,” Clarke said.
“But I think we learned a lot from that experience. I think our returning players learned a lot from the whole weekend and got great experience playing three games in a national championship, against [the] best teams in the country and understanding what it takes to win at that level. So hopefully we’ll take some of those lessons forward and be excited to bring them into next season.”
But the team would respond by winning their next two games of the tournament to finish fifth out of the eight teams in the tournament.
Given how her team played this year, Clarke is ecstatic to see what her team is capable of next year.
Their senior leaders in Sofia Paska, Katherine Follis and Kiera Tiemens are all graduating and losing the impact they’ve had on the program will be a big blow.
But even with the departure of these players, Clarke says there’s a lot to look forward to.
“With that, it’s going to be a team effort to fill some of those voids,” Clarke added. “Obviously we have got players like Jama Bin-Edward, Bronwyn Williams and Emma Fraser, who will be fourth-year players next year.”
Clarke also says that she’s looking forward to seeing growth in Williams and Fraser, pointing them out as potential breakout candidates.
“Those two, in particular, have stepped up in big moments over their first three years, and even last year. Bronwyn had some big scoring moments for us last year, and we will definitely be leaning on her to do that. [And] we know Emma can do that…she’s demonstrated that in the past so they’ll definitely be a big part of what we’re doing.”
Overall, Clarke expects every woman on the team to step up next season and leave everything they have got on the court.
“Like I said, we don’t look at it in a way where it just going to be like two or three players…it’s going to be a team effort to adjust and adapt and grow.”