Photo by Alex D'Addese

Trip to nationals slips from Rams hands in loss

By Andrea Elliott
TORONTO - Another season wrapped up for the Ryerson Rams men's soccer team in heartbreak fashion, losing to their rival Toronto Varsity Blues 2-1 in the OUA bronze medal game at Birchmount Stadium.


The loss leaves the Rams on the outside of the national championship picture, as the Blues snatched the final OUA berth to the U Sports championship tournament with the win.

There was no shortage of drama on Sunday and the Varsity Blues set the tone by opening the scoring in the 11th minute. Striker Nirun Sivananthan found space on the left side of the pitch and fired a shot past Ryerson keeper Praveen Ahilan (Unionville, Ont.) to lift the visitors to a 1-0 lead.

Toronto doubled their lead in the 35th minute as Russell Rodrigues knocked in a rebound attempt at the side of the net after an initial impressive save by Ahilan.

Then, shortly after, the game lost much of its momentum as Rams midfielder Jackson Tooke (Toronto) suffered a major injury. After being stretchered off the pitch with his leg braced, the Rams rallied around their fallen teammate and applied late pressure before the halftime whistle blew.

An inspirational halftime speech in the Rams locker room gave the home side extra motivation and the comeback bid was on.

The Rams found the back of the net just six minutes into the second half as Kyle Stewart (Kingston, Jamaica) headed home a perfect free ball delivery from Adam Hemati (Vaughan, Ont.) as the two captains hooked up to cut the deficit to just one.

Momentum stayed with the Rams in the 65th minute when Toronto's Sivananthan was sent off with an automatic red card.

Ryerson used the man-up advantage to their favour for the remainder of the game as they dominated possession and scoring opportunities. The Rams appeared to tie the score late in the match but the linesman flagged the play for a hand contact to negate the equalizer.

"It invigorates the team with so much emotional energy when something like that happens," said head coach Filip Prostran about the Tooke injury. "The guys rallied behind him; had some great words at halftime and got the early goal in the second. We were on them, on them, on them, but the game can be cruel sometimes."

The loss marks the third straight season that the Rams have lost out in the bronze medal game to the Varsity Blues.

"The OUA tournament, I always say, is harder to win than the national tournament," said Prostran. "The No. 1, 3, 4 and 5 teams in the country just played (here) so if you get out of here, you're playing (some) easier teams. The OUA tournament is so difficult and this year proved that. Is it a mental hurdle? Maybe. I mostly feel for the guys that put all the time and work and effort into it. It feels unsatisfying and unjust in a way but we tip our caps to U of T."



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