TORONTO - The Ryerson Rams held the advantage but could not close out the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, settling for a 2-2 draw on Sunday afternoon.
The Rams (6-1-5) were up 2-0 at halftime over their downtown rivals, but allowed the Blues (5-5-1) to claw their way back into the game.
“We can’t seem to close,” associate coach Filip Prostran said. “I don’t think we played particularly well today. I know we were up early, but sometimes the score isn’t inductive of the play. But there were two moments of brilliance, very nice goals. We still have a lot of work to do.”
The Rams only found the net three times in the first half, but converted on two of them. Milos Scepanovic opened the scoring in the 18th minute, blasting a long strike past Rab Bruce-Lockhart. With his sixth tally, Scepanovic leads the Rams in goals and is sixth in the OUA.
Ryerson continued to press and three minutes later Nikola Melisovic finished a pinpoint cross with a beautiful diving header.
In the second half, U of T chipped away at the Rams lead. The Blues put pressure on the Ryerson defence and made the most of their chances, scoring on two of three shots. Midfielder Ezequiel Lubocki cut the deficit to one in the 57th minute and striker Adrian Dannel tied the score 10 minutes later.
“In the second half we came out less organized and they capitalized on their opportunities,” goalkeeper Christian Maraldo said. “We got too complacent with those two beautiful goals. I guess their pep-talk came through for them.”
Maraldo was solid for the Rams on Sunday, saving the tie with a diving save late in the contest. The third-year keeper dove to his left to punch out a quality strike from inside 15 yards to keep the Rams 11-game unbeaten streak alive.
“Christian has been clutch all year, making big saves,” captain Markus Molder said. “We’ll take the point, three points would have been nice, but it doesn’t really change much in the standings.”
The Rams currently sit third in the OUA East with 23 points. Second-seeded Carleton is three points above Ryerson while Toronto and Nipissing are tied for fourth with 16 points each. Toronto has a game in hand on the Rams, but one more Ryerson win guarantees at least a third-place finish.
Playing at Varsity Stadium, the closest OUA field to Ryerson, afforded the Rams a chance to play closer to home. Ryerson fans were blasting horns and cheering on their team and the support did not go unnoticed by the players.
“I think I heard a lot more people cheering for Ryerson,” Maraldo said.
Veterans Alex Braletic and Michael Jan also played for the first time since being injured on Sept. 23 against Toronto.
The Rams close out their regular season next weekend with a pair of games against Laurentian on Saturday and Nipissing on Sunday. Both games go at 3:15 p.m. from Birchmount Stadium.