Rams claim OUA bronze medal over McMaster
TORONTO - The Ryerson Rams snapped a three-year skid of losing the OUA bronze medal game in a bittersweet 3-0 victory over the McMaster Marauders at York’s Alumni Field on Saturday afternoon.
One day after a crushing defeat in extra time penalty kicks against host York Lions, the Rams still close out the season with some new hardware. The bronze medal marks Ryerson’s first medal in the OUA Final Four since their silver in 2013, a game also lost to the Lions.
The first half saw the Rams execute flawlessly on both ends of the field. Praveen Ahilan (Unionville, Ont.) held off early charges by the Marauders to keep the match level off the start. In the 12th minute, Arya Hemati scored the game-opener off of a point blank free kick in the corner of the box. From there, the Rams offence was showing incredible coordination, with a passing play catching Marauders keeper Andrew McCulloch (Unionville, Ont.) out of the net and allowing Nick Lambis (Pickering, Ont.) to score on a wide open net in the 15th minute.
The second half started slowly, with McCulloch at the receiving end of hard contact and leaving the field to be replaced by defender Alex Matsubara (Kelowna, B.C.). From there, the Marauders defence tightened to keep the Rams at bay. At the very end, Daniel Merean broke through and closed the game 3-0.
While yesterday’s disappointment remained, the Rams leave with bronze medals and their heads held high. Head coach Filip Prostran promoted the unity of the team coming into their final match as a unit.
“It was a challenging game in a lot of ways,” Prostran said. “Today was about enjoying each other’s company, about ending the season on a high. I truly believe this team didn’t lose one game all year. That’s something to be thankful for and I’m extremely proud of the group and what they’ve been able to accomplish, and the adversity they’ve been able to overcome.”
Two key players who played their last game in the blue and gold are Lambis and team captain Kyle Stewart (Kingston, Jamaica). As they leave the pitch, they reflect on the impact that they have had on the Ryerson Rams soccer program.
“We’ve instilled a winning culture in the team,” Lambis said. “If anything to remember us by, I’d say just how hard we worked and to keep that going.”
“You don’t always have to be the most technical player,” Stewart continued, “as long as you play hard and have heart, that’s what we’ve been priding ourselves on.”
After a period of brief reflection on this season, the returning team already has their sights set on the possibilities that lie ahead.
“We’ve got big things coming,” Prostran finished. “We have the foundations in place to build something special here.”