By Julian Bettencourt
After a comfortable win against Trent University last weekend, the Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold men’s soccer team couldn’t keep up its winning ways, falling to the No. 3 ranked Carleton Ravens by a score of 3-0.
It was a heated contest from the opening minute on a gloomy Saturday at Downsview Park. The two teams hadn’t faced each other since 2019, but past meetings have always seen tensions rise and Saturday was no different.
“The energy levels weren’t right, the intensity wasn’t right. Nothing fancy,” said head coach Filip Prostran. “Just the fight of the game was completely theirs.”
Despite the fight that the Bold showed, the best chances of the first half came from Carleton. It took them four minutes to test Bold goalkeeper Ali Ghazanfari, who produced a fantastic save to keep the score level.
The Bold struggled to find opportunities in the first half with the best chance coming on a curling freekick from midfielder Justin Santos, which was barely saved by the Ravens keeper.
Carleton found the opener in the 17th minute. A cross from the right was finished awkwardly by their opposite winger. The goal stood, despite claims of a handball by Bold player.
Just over 15 minutes later, Carleton made it 2-0 via another opportunity from the right side. The ball deflected and rebounded around the box until finding the feet of Carleton’s Luca Piccioli, who blasted a shot into the back of the net, doubling the Raven’s lead.
A 2-0 deficit left TMU with a lot of work to do in the second half and initially they responded well, with good stretches of possession and an uptick in chances. Another great save from Ghazanfari stopped a potential Ravens breakaway goal.
TMU’s momentum was quickly extinguished, all in a two minute stretch that the Bold players will want to forget.
First, a structured play by the Ravens ended in a composed turn and finish into the bottom right corner by Carleton’s Scott Mazzotta, increasing the deficit to 3-0.
A minute later, the aftermath of a TMU corner saw a Carleton player run through the middle of the pitch with plenty of space, until Bold defender Christian Westlaken stopped him with a harsh challenge around the half-way line.
The referee deemed Westlaken’s challenge a denial of a “clear goal-scoring opportunity” and decided to give him a straight red card, much to the dismay of the home crowd.
“My teammates are telling me it’s not [a red card] but regardless, myself and the rest of my team are gonna take responsibility for the game, for our performance, and move on.” said Westlaken after the match.
Going down to 10 men meant that it became all about damage control for the Bold for the remaining half hour. They still kept possession well, but it wasn’t enough to sway the scoreline.
Despite the final score, the team is remaining positive.
“These are lessons you don’t learn usually until playoffs…the emotions you feel after losing a game are much more positive than any easy win,” said Ghazanfari.
UP NEXT: TMU’s men’s soccer team is back at it again Sunday Sept. 25, when they take on the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks. Kick-off is set for 3:15 p.m. at Downsview Park.