By Xavier Eeswaran
The Ryerson Rams men’s soccer team held on to win 1-0 in their home opener over the Queen’s Gaels at Downsview Park on Sept. 7.
It was midfielder Muaz Saleh checking into the game in the second half and wasting no time at all, scoring the game’s deciding goal on a breakaway in the 51st minute.
“Muaz is a unique beast,” said Rams head coach Filip Prostran. “Sometimes he comes in and changes the game like he did today.”
Before the game-winning goal, Saleh was given a yellow card. It was his first of the season and third since the 2018-2019 season. Due to the accumulation of three yellow cards, Saleh will have to sit out of the Rams’ next home game against the Royal Military College (RMC).
“Believe it or not, it wasn’t supposed to be a yellow card because I got the ball first,” said Saleh. “I don’t care about the yellow card as long as we got the win.”
Despite the win, the Rams weren’t thrilled with the outcome, as several of their scoring chances went to waste.
“I wouldn’t say it was a great performance but we got the job done,” said coach Prostran.
Notably missing from the team’s starting lineup was U SPORTS All-Rookie Kai Martin, who led the Rams with five assists last season. Martin did check into the match with about 20 minutes left as coach Prostran was eager to mix and match with his lineup.
“We’re still working through our rotations. I know Kai is an excellent right back,” said coach Prostran. “Kai is really important to what we do. Today Nate (Tambakis) started, but in the next game against RMC, Kai will most likely be starting.”
Although the team wasn’t playing at its peak form offensively, their defence and goalkeeper Ali Ghazanfari were sensational as they shutout Queen’s.
“I think we held it down big time, our defensive shape was phenomenal,” said Saleh.
A key reason why the Rams did not concede was in large part due to a highlight-reel diving save from Ghazanfari, who denied a strike from six yards out just before halftime.
“Most goalies at this level don’t make that save,” said Coach Prostran. “He’s a big-time goalie, All-Canadian level.”
UP NEXT: The Rams men’s soccer team plays their next game tomorrow against RMC at Downsview Park.