By Bronté James
Brunswickan Sports Editor
I have been covering the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds men’s soccer team for three years and have come to know the team, form bonds and learn the intricate details that come along with covering the sport. The only downside is I’ve only been exposed to the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) setting and haven’t had a chance to see what the other leagues – the OUA, Canada West and Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) were like.
This past weekend I had the chance to see seven other teams from across the country display their passion, drive, talent and desire for a national Canadian Interuniversity Sport title out on the turf. One of the teams I watched, and that exemplified many of these qualities, was the Ryerson Rams. I must say, the Reds weren’t the only team I was hoping would do well. By the end of the weekend I considered myself a Rams fan.
Their first game was against Laval Route et Or – who would later take the silver medal. The team started off a little slow, wasn’t always first to the ball and had a few sloppy kicks, but later found their groove. The Rams’ first goal, a beauty of a kick from behind the halfway line, was taken less than five seconds into the first-half by Alex Braletic, the CIS player of the year – a title which he proved he earned this past weekend.
But the CIS MVP’s efforts weren’t enough and his side would fall 3-2 to the Rouge et Or.
The tournament wasn’t over for Ryerson as they would take on the Saskatchewan Huskies in the consolation semi-final.
This would be one of my favourite games to watch over the weekend – despite, of course, watching the Reds play – as it was filled with drama, suspense and determination to finish in the top five.
A back-and-forth attacking match ended in a 2-2 draw at the end of 90 minutes.
Being a consolation round, there would be no overtime and the game would go straight to penalty kicks – the worst way to win or lose a game. It doesn’t reveal the true essence of the last 90 minutes played and it puts keepers in a very difficult position.
Huskies keeper Michal Bandula would come out on top, making a crucial stop on a weak shot from Martin Dabrowski, and Saskatchewan would not be denied in the penalty shootout en route to the consolation final.
Although I was happy to see the Huskies off to play in the fifth-place game, their first appearance at CIS nationals, I had hoped the Rams might instead.
Their associate coach, Filip Prostran was nothing but personable in the first few interviews and always remembered my name – which, trust me, is a feat for some people.
I had also come to know two great journalists from the Ryerson University journalism program. They were able to give me some of the ins and outs of the team, making my stories a little more human rather than statistical.
Overall, I would have to say the Rams put in a valiant effort at the nationals and were able to display what Rams pride means.
They were classy, talented, kind and I look forward to seeing their 2014 season play out. I may not be a Ryerson student, but hey, doesn’t mean I can’t be a fan.
Good luck, Rams. Keep up the good work.