Ryerson women’s soccer continuing to build on 2019 success despite pandemic

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By Koylan Azofeifa

The Ryerson Rams women’s soccer team has returned to the field after Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and U Sports announced the cancellation of their 2020 season.

For the Rams, the news was disappointing, coming off their strongest season in program history. The team advanced to the OUA quarter-finals for the first time ever, knocking out the Nipissing Lakers in a nail-biting match that culminated in a shootout. 

“Although we understand why, it’s a bitter feeling”

Unfortunately they would fall victim in the quarter-finals to the No. 1 ranked team in the country and eventual conference bronze medalists, the Ottawa Gee-Gees. 

Despite the loss, their win against Nipissing had the team excited to improve on their success—before COVID-19 derailed those plans.

“We are all disappointed with our season being cancelled,” said Alessia Zito, senior goalkeeper. “We came off a high last year by making it the furthest that Ryerson women’s soccer has ever gotten.” 

“It’s hard for all the girls, especially the seniors, ending our year like this. Definitely not what we expected and although we understand why, it’s a bitter feeling.”

The team is curently training at The Hangar Sport and Events Centre while following all necessary health and safety guidelines.

“We train two to three times a week as of right now and have lifts. We have our own personalized gym at The Hangar which is really cool and has come in a perfect time,” said Zito. 

Not all the players have come back to Toronto though. Some players on the roster have been using this time to compete with their hometown club teams. 

That’s the case for senior midfielder Katie Joyce. The third-year player is back home in Newfoundland training with the Feildians Athletic Association (FAA).

“I’ve had the opportunity to train and compete all summer with my club team,” said Joyce. “We are currently in-season until October, competing for a provincial title.”

As a senior, Joyce said she pictured her final year to be completely different, but she acknowledges people’s health and safety comes first.

“I always imagined how my senior game would feel; the last time in the dressing room with my teammates, having my family fly out for the ceremony, one last run at a title,” said Joyce.

“COVID did us a favour because it made everyone realize the love of the game we have and the fight and drive we have to want to play”

It is not yet known if seniors will be getting a Senior Day this year.

Another player who has found some positives amidst the difficult situation facing the team is new recruit Emily Porteous. Porteous suffered a concussion when playing soccer at the NCAA division two level with the University of West Alabama. The injury forced her to come back home to Canada.

“I’m definitely upset that there won’t be a season but due to my special circumstance it’s nice to get a break and take the time to recover,” said Porteous. 

Porteous is training with the team while she recovers from her injury. One added benefit she’s found at Ryerson is the opportunity to rehabilitate and train with longtime friends from her early days playing the sport.   

“Being able to come back to training and having it with my lifelong friends is even better,” said Porteous. “I can’t wait to win with them just like we did as kids.”

Porteous and her teammates are confident this year will make the team better and set a strong foundation for future seasons to come.  After last season’s newfound success, even if it was cut short by the pandemic, the team feels as motivated as ever to win.

“I definitely think it will make the team stronger,” said Zito. “COVID did us a favour because it made everyone realize the love of the game we have and the fight and drive we have to want to play.”

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