FREDERICTON, N.B. — An undefeated regular season has ended with two losses in a row on the national stage.
The Ryerson Rams men’s soccer team is heading back to Toronto winless at the CIS national tournament after losing 2-2 (3-4 PK) in a penalty shootout to the Saskatchewan Huskies in the consolation semifinal.
In a back-and-forth game between the two sides, Michael Velasquez opened scoring for the Rams with a strike from outside the box. Mitch Bauche equalized before the end of the first-half. In the second frame, Alex Braletic gave the Rams the lead but saw his effort cancelled out by Ryan Contenti. Armin Tankovic and Martin Dabrowski missed in the penalty shootout and Ryerson was eliminated from the tournament.
“Penalty shots is a coin flip,” associate coach Filip Prostran said. “I think in my four seasons here we’ve lost three times in penalty shots and once in overtime. We don’t play an unexciting game that’s for sure.”
Fielding a starting 11 without Braletic, Michael Jan, and Jacob O’Connor, the Rams looked regenerated. After barely mustering any offence yesterday in a 3-2 loss to Laval Rouge et Or, Ryerson worked its way into the Saskatchewan’s box with mercurial wing play from Luka Lee.
“This was a consolation game so it was a time to try guys for next year, kind of a future outlook starting line-up,” Prostran said.
The Rams opened scoring through the middle. Velasquez picked up play from about 25 yards out and unleashed a powerful strike that blew by keeper Michal Bandula and into the net.
The Huskies recovered and were a constant threat due to the mazy runs of Garrett Peters on the right wing. The Rams couldn’t hold on under the intense pressure and midfielder Mitch Bauche equalized for the Huskies.
Braletic repeated his second-half heroics against Laval and brought Ryerson ahead after latching on to a through ball and beating Bandula at the near post.
The game took a turn for the worse as Huskies striker David Brown fractured his wrist and left the game in an arm brace. Apparently inspired by their fallen comrade, Saskatchewan tied the game on their first possession after he left the pitch as Contenti brought the Huskies level once more.
Both teams battled out for a winning goal but penalty kicks were needed to decide the outcome.
Dabrowski missed the Rams fourth penalty and Myrah made no mistake when he stepped up to score the game winner.
Undefeated throughout the season, the Rams will head home winless with two losses against Laval and Saskatchewan at the CIS nationals. Braletic, Jan, and Tankovic have all played their final match as a Ram.
“You know this is probably the closest knit team I’ve ever been a part of,” Braletic said. “My career with the Rams is now over but I will definitely be playing some kind of behind the scenes role in the years to come.”