TORONTO — The temperature at Downsview Park finally cooled off and with it, so did the Rams women's soccer team's offence.
Heading into the weekend, Ryerson knew what was on the line. Six points against Queen's and RMC would all-but secure a first-round playoff game at home, but a stale offensive night has made those hopes a little bit harder to secure. Not impossible by any stretch of the imagination, but now they need three points against RMC and some help from the other clubs that sandwich them in the OUA's East Division.
If not for the play of Rams netminder Elisa Lapadula (Brampton, Ont.), Queen's may well have run away with the match in the first half. Lapadula
See, everyone? There is a purpose in putting players on the posts for corners after all.
While the possession stayed comfortably in favour of Queen's, Ryerson was able to muster up a few chances, mainly on the counter-attack.
However, the possession afforded to Queen's ultimately paid off in the dying minutes of the half. Off of a foul in the centre of the pitch, the Gaels Laura Callendar unleashed a missile over the Rams wall and off the glove of Lapadula and in, giving the Gaels a lead just before both teams headed for the warmth of the clubhouse at the halftime break.
Ryerson picked it up in the second and had back-to-back chances in the early stages of the half. First, a race for the ball and a sneaky attempt on goal pitted Gaels netminder Anna Stephenson into a 15-yard foot-race against the ball. She won the race, barely, and cleared the ball away with less than a yard to spare. She would be tested again a minute later but again she was up to the task.
The Rams comeback efforts were delivered a serious blow in the 85th minute when Victoria Watson (Scarborough, Ont.) — who was arguably the Rams player of the game up to the point — was errantly issued her second yellow card of the game after strong shoulder-to-shoulder challenging, which saw her sent her off.
The steady Gaels club was able to use the extra body on the pitch to lock down the final five minutes on their way to the 1-0 victory. The win moves Queen's into a tie with Ottawa for second spot in the division, with a shot to secure a first-round bye.
“We knew coming into this game that Queen’s is a strong side and we’d have to change our tactics accordingly,” said associate coach Tina Cook after the game. “Although they had a fair amount of possession, I think we played our game and we had some chances. Unfortunately, they hit their one free kick, and we didn’t hit ours.”
The free kick that Cook is referring to was a lovely shot on goal from Callendar. At the other end, Queen's keeper Stephenson stopped the Rams four shots on goal en route to the clean sheet.
“I think our ladies came out strong tonight,” Cook added. “The first time we played Queen’s we didn’t have a great game. Coming out tonight we had a chance to prove that we could play with them, and I think we did that.”
The Rams will return to Downsview tomorrow night to host the RMC Paladins at 6:00 pm, still in search of that invaluable home playoff game.
“I think tomorrow night’s game will be very different. Queen’s and RMC are very different teams — different tactics, different ideas,” concluded Cook. “I think the ladies are ready to go, and with playoffs in mind, we know each game counts at this point. We’ll put it away tomorrow and then move forward onto Wednesday.”
Kick-off from North York will once again be at 6:00 pm, and as always, if you can't make the trip up you can stay up to date on Twitter @ryersonrams.