Photo by Hung Le

Rams return to playoffs after six-year absence

By Adam Jenkins

TORONTO — The year was 2011 when the Ryerson Rams women's soccer team last made the OUA playoffs. Now for the fourth time in program history, they have made it back.

After their record-breaking regular season which saw the team record seven wins (the most in the regular season), the attention shifts to Laurentian in hopes that they can continue to blaze a path for this program, which with a win would include their first playoff victory for Ryerson women's soccer.

The path to the playoffs was not an easy one, and it certainly saw its fair share of hurdles. One of the youngest teams that Ryerson has fielded in a few seasons, was tasked with coming together and improving as this program looks to the future. While the veterans helped ease the first-years into university life and OUA competition, they quickly showed the vets that they had some game themselves, leading the team in several offensive categories.

Leading the way in the goal-scoring department was standout rookie Victoria Watson (Scarborough, Ont.) who finished regular season competition leading the team and tied for ninth in the OUA with her nine goals scored.

"The first years have brought exactly what we needed. Coming into this year, we needed players who could keep our goals against down AND bring our goals for up," reflects Soraya El-houni. "We got just that with solid defenders, playmakers and a hungry striker."

Rams associate coach Tina Cook, who has been with the program since 2014, agrees that the play of her first-years has been nothing short of remarkable.

"Our incoming class this year has been instrumental in the team's success this season. In most games this season, 50% or more of our starting line up have been first-year players," Cook says. "This shows the impact that these ladies have had on moving the program forward."

El-houni, who was one of the seniors honoured this past weekend on Senior Night, is getting her first taste of postseason action, in what is likely her final season in the OUA, as she is set to graduate with Ryerson's first cohort of RTA: Sport Media students. With the opportunity in front of her, she relishes the thought of what a win would mean to her, and the program she's devoted herself to over the past four seasons.

"A win would be everything... it's hard to put into words. As an athlete, you love to play in regular season games, but really, you live to play in games that actually matter," El-houni adds. "It's been a while since I've been apart of one of those games, and I want to be apart of more [of them] this season."

When another graduating senior, Brittney Clendenan (Ottawa, Ont.) went down with a gut-wrenching, season-ending leg injury midway through the season, the Rams very well could have flatlined. Instead, they rallied around their netminder and third-year keeper Elisa Lapadula (Brampton, Ont.) stepped up and helped carry Ryerson to a playoff spot in relief of Clendenan.

In their two meetings during the season, Ryerson had Laurentian's number, winning both games 1-0 and 2-0, respectively, shutting them out in the season series.

However, the toughest test is yet to come. Laurentian will have home-field advantage on their side, and more importantly, they have playoff experience in their corner as well. Compounding both of those factors, is tomorrow's forecast. Sudbury is in for rain and a temperature hovering around 5°C by the match's 3:00 pm kick-off.

"We know that playing up north in the cold and rain on a grass field won't make our game easy, but we are ready for the challenge. We had similar conditions in North Bay a couple of weeks ago which gave us a little taste of what to expect tomorrow," Cook explains. "We are excited for a playoff game no matter the conditions."

El-houni agrees that the conditions are challenging, but it is nothing that her Rams can't handle.

"Weather definitely impacts the way a team plays tactically, but I think as a player, when the weather is significantly different than your natural element you let the coaches worry about the tactics throughout the game and you make sure that whatever you're asked to do, you do it at max effort to the best of your ability," she says. "It's definitely more of a mental struggle in bad weather."

It appears that Cook and El-houni feel ready for anything, including the weather. Besides, how does that old adage go again? 'Both teams have to play in the same conditions,' I believe.

The Rams know what's at stake, and while the pressure may be higher than what they're used to, they're also appreciating the moment and will arrive at the pitch tomorrow ready to battle.

"Moving past the first round of playoffs would be a program first and a historic achievement for Rams women's soccer," Cook concludes. "With that said, we planned to be in this position and we are fully confident that we have what it takes to win in the postseason. This team will continue to set new records."

Kickoff from the LU Soccer Fields will be at 3:00 pm sharp Wednesday afternoon. Be sure to keep it locked to @ryersonrams on Twitter, for the latest news and score updates.




  • Video Highlights
  • Video Features
Soccer (W)
Feature: Ask A Ram - Jalen Simms
Soccer (W)
Feature: Ask A Ram - Alessia Carvalho
Soccer (W)
Highlights | WSOC vs Carleton, Sept. 24, 2017
Soccer (W)
Feature: Ask A Ram - Brittney Clendenan
Soccer (W)
Highlights | WSOC vs Nipissing, Aug. 27, 2017
Soccer (W)
Highlights | WSOC vs Laurentian, Aug. 26, 2017
Ryerson Rams Care