An old adage in the world of football is uttered exclusively during days of wind and rain.
“It’s perfect football weather!”
That expression was warmly embraced by the shivering, yet ever passionate Ryerson Rams fans, who braved the cold to watch their men’s soccer team defeat the Windsor Lancers 1-0 in the OUA semifinals and qualify for nationals for the first time in their program’s history.
“[The game] went exactly how we wanted it to,” said forward Alex Braletic. “We’re not looking past tomorrow but we have a goal in mind and that’s the national championships. We’re not going to take tomorrow lightly but having said that, we’re prepared for nationals.”
Facing a tough Lancers’ side, Ryerson opened the scoring in added time of the first half, and held the lead until the final whistle. The goal came at the perfect time for Ryerson. Braletic switched a pass over to winger Viktor Anastasov, who crossed the field and found Martin Dabrowski on the other side.
Dabrowski set up his shot with some fancy footwork before letting loose and curling the ball past the Windsor keeper.
“I had a feeling someone would get on the end of it, and then Marty – out of all people, deserves it the most, more than anyone – gets us the win,” said Anastasov. “We were better than them from the very first minute. We were composed the whole time. We weren’t frantic. We stuck to the game plan and got it done.”
Dabrowski was emotional after the match.
“It’s been a hard week for my family,” said Dabrowski. “My dad passed away on Monday. I did it for him, to be honest.”
Holding back tears, he continued, “I’m just so proud. And my dad’s proud of me. It’s a great feeling.”
Braletic said, “This game was for Martin Dabrowski. Character has been guiding this team, and character got us (into the nationals).
“I don’t think it could’ve been a more fitting end to getting to nationals,” he added. “The fact that he scored the goal, I don’t believe in coincidences, that was meant to be.”
Rams assistant coach Filip Prostran said, “They have a chance to do something that Ryerson’s never done, and that’s win an OUA banner.” If they win against York University in the finals on Sunday, the Rams will bring Ryerson its first OUA title in the university’s history.
York University, a top side in the competition, features former Toronto FC regular Matt Stinson, as well as TFC Academy midfielder Dylan Sacramento. York defeated Carleton University 2-1 prior to the Rams match. The two teams will play the final at Birchmount Stadium at 2 p.m.