By Chris Sanders
The Ryerson Rams men’s soccer team drew their first game of the season to the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks 3-3, after a second half meltdown at Downsview Park on Sept. 15.
When the final whistle blew, Ontario Tech players were heard screaming in celebration throughout the field, while a dejected Ryerson team disappointingly walked off the pitch, despite leading the game 3-1 with 11 minutes left to play.
“I told them this was the best thing for us,” said Rams head coach Filip Prostran. “We’ve got a lot of lessons to learn throughout the season and this is one of them.”
After playing their fourth winless team to begin the season, Prostran had some choice words for his younger players on the roster.
“Some guys don’t know what a great record is,” said Prostran. “Because traditionally [when] we’d have success against a team, we think we’re just going to show up and it’s going to happen again… and anytime a team could come in and beat you. It doesn’t matter what your record against them is in the past, doesn’t matter what your record is now or where you’re ranked.”
A sloppy first half filled with physicality resulted in officials handing out more cards than goals scored, with five yellow cards dealt between both teams.
Chances came and went until a bouncing ball—wet from the drizzle of rain—found Rams midfielder Andrew Barrett, who broke the deadlock for Ryerson in the 30th minute to score his first-ever goal of his Ontario University Athletics career.
“It feels good, but it’s unfortunate,” said Barrett. “I’d rather not score and win 1-0 then score and tie. It’s kind of bitter.”
Moments later, Ridgebacks midfielder Christopher Campoli would equalize the game with a header that slipped through Rams goalkeeper Ali Ghazanfari’s hands.
After regrouping at halftime, the Rams were more precise in the second half but the Ridgebacks wouldn’t settle for a loss either.
Taking the game into his own hands, Rams midfielder and captain Abdallah El-Chanti notched two straight goals, with the second one coming from him dribbling around multiple Ridgeback defenders at the edge of the box, before calmly finishing to give his team a 3-1 advantage.
“In the second half, we came out with a good fighting mentality. We pressed them, we worked hard, we were all over them,” said Prostran.
Before Ryerson knew it, the game crumbled in the final stretch of the second half.
In the 79th minute, Ghazanfari attempted to clear the ball from Ryerson’s half, but a deflection off Ridgebacks forward Fadi Salback would find its way in the back of the net to cut the lead to one.
Completing Ridgebacks’ comeback, Campoli found space on the wing and blistered a dagger past Ghazanfari to level the game at three-a-piece.
Ryerson pushed for a goal in the dying seconds of the game, earning a corner that located midfielder Antony Curic, but he was ruled offside as time soon expired.
“I think the biggest lesson was how to ‘kill’ a game,” said Prostran. “If the game was 2-1 we wouldn’t be dribbling and taking guys on and trying to score extra goals. If it was 2-1 then we’d be taking the ball to the corner, we’d be trying to waste time and play safe out of the back. The biggest lesson is in the game management.”
UP NEXT: Ryerson will take on the Toronto Varsity Blues for the first time this season on Sept. 22