By Xavier Eeswaran
The Ryerson Rams men’s soccer team’s season came to an end after falling to the University of Toronto Varsity Blues 3-1 in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) quarterfinals on Oct. 27 at Downsview Park.
Artem Tesker, Nikola Stakic and Nicola Russo scored for Toronto, while Ryerson’s lone goal came from midfielder Abdallah El-Chanti’s penalty kick in the 67th minute.
“It’s a tough one to swallow,” said Rams head coach Filip Prostran. “They came with more fight today that was the difference.”
The first goal for the Varsity Blues came when Tesker scored off a rebound in the 26th minute. Less than 10 minutes later, the Rams nearly scored off a header that hit the crossbar but was then cleared off the goal line. The Rams hit the post four times during the match.
Scoring one more goal in the final minute of the first half, the Varsity Blues added their third goal less than 10 minutes into the second half.
El-Chanti’s goal began a Rams comeback that had Ryerson controlling the ball in Toronto’s half for the better part of the game’s final 30 minutes.
“I thought we turned on the fight too late,” said coach Prostran. “10-15 minutes into the second half we started to get it going but by that time the mountain was too high to climb.”
It was the third matchup this season between the Rams and the Varsity Blues, and also a rematch of last year’s OUA quarterfinals where the Rams came out on top.
It’s the first time since 2012 that the Rams failed to advance past the OUA quarterfinals.
Entering this game, the Rams had won five of the last six games against the Varsity Blues, tying the only game they did not win back in September.
“We’ve had a lot of success in the past,” said Prostran. “We showed that in defeat, we fight till the end.”
An early end to the season the Rams weren’t expected, they have five graduating players that include goalkeeper Ali Ghazanfari, forward Muaz Saleh, defenders Nathaniel Tambakis, Arya Hemati and Venizelos Koutsoulianos.
Even though this loss might sting for a while, coach Prostran is proud of how his team wrapped up the end of their season.
“This soccer thing it’s gonna come and it’s gonna go. If we’re not using this for a bigger platform then we’re missing the whole piece of this time in our lives,” said Prostran.
“[We showed] that we’re classy, that we honour other teams. We say congratulations when it’s due, we stick together and we don’t turn on each other.”