Personal essay: The Rams men’s soccer team wants to go out with a bang

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By Abdallah El-Chanti

Editor’s note: The Rams men’s soccer team advanced to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) semi-finals with a 4-0 win over the Waterloo Warriors on Nov. 3. Fifth-year senior and team captain Abdallah El-Chanti reflects on the season, the team’s playoff run and his Rams career in The Eyeopener

It has been a long journey with the Rams.  

Through the many ups and downs, there hasn’t been a moment where I thought to myself that I didn’t make the right decision by coming back to the team.

We have been through heartbreaking losses over the course of my career. The loss on penalty kicks in 2017 to the York Lions stands out the most to me. It was a moment where we were so close to clinching a spot at nationals, but we fell short. 

Despite the losses, there were also happy moments like when we beat the University of Toronto (U of T) in penalty kicks in the quarter finals in 2017 and the 3-1 win against Carleton at home in 2019. 

I just want to live in the moment each game and appreciate it all the way through

Of course off the field, it has been amazing with the team being like another family. I’ve loved all the memories I have made over the years in this program. 

Playoffs are here and it has been a tremendously exhausting season. The intensity of this year has been like no other. Ten games in the span of a little over a month is a lot on the body. 

Many of us are carrying injuries and minor knocks, but that’s part of the game and we have to live with it.

I am ready to give my best one last time as a Ram. The supporters this year have been extra special and nothing like past years. They are extra loud and you can feel them throughout the whole game. 

They bring flares to games, making you want to score and win even more just to hear them celebrate with us. We have never had this much support throughout a season and playoffs are extra special. 

It makes us feel like we’re at a professional game. They should know we will give it our best. We have one goal and we want to make history by winning a championship. 

We will give our best and then whatever happens from there we shall see. The fans should be expecting a great playoff atmosphere with a lot of hunger from us.

I can’t just pick one or two players that will stand out for us. We have a lot of quality on the squad. 

I believe Praveen Ahilan is the best goalie in U Sports. We have been through a lot together along with Moe Jawad. As the seniors on the team, we know the real season is starting now.

It’s our last year playing together and we want to go out with a bang.  

Our back line with Moe Abdallah, Brandon Barone, Christian Westlaken, Kai Martin, Thomas Maccarone, Tomas Casraldo, Henrique Rodrigues, Nial Ansair and Alessandro Fargione has been a wall that is very difficult to break down. 

Our midfield combination of Faisal Ghaffur, Jacob Carlos, Sean Fainski, Christopher Castillo and Olly Wales worked out great all season. We never know who to play because they are all class players.  

We want to make history together

Zak Abdi, Luca Di Marco, Justin Santos, Akeim Villous and Azaan Sayed have been on fire all season, scoring goals from anywhere and everywhere for us. Though we are in a great place, playoffs are tricky in Ontario University Athletics and we have to show up that day to win—no matter who the opponent is. 

Any playoff game is tough and playing against the York Lions won’t be any different. They worked hard to make it into the playoffs and now they have nothing to lose. I expect both teams to come out with fire, wanting to win.

Coaches Filip Prostran and Kasy Kiarash have been exceptional this year. They have always been such great coaches together—a dynamic duo. But this year feels different. 

We all have more fire in us and we feed off our coaches. It’s amazing when a player wants to win for the team, but when a player wants to win for their coaches as well, it’s just a completely different level. It sparks a fire in us.

The motivation we have to win is quite different than years before. We want to make history together and as tough as it will be, we will give it our best and whatever happens from there we’ll live with it. 

COVID-19 has definitely hit everyone hard, some more than others. We have been training all through the pandemic to get to where we are now. 

We knew we just had to work hard all offseason because playoffs were going to come fast. Now it’s time to fight through what’s left of our season. 

It is a little sad to know that this is my last season with these lads on the field. But I hope it lasts a couple of more weeks and all the way to nationals so I can enjoy it for a little longer. 

I just want to live in the moment each game and appreciate it all the way through to the last second I play as a Ram.

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