Despite being unbeaten since last season, the Ryerson men’s soccer team may have some trouble this year in defending its Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East division title.
The team placed second in the OUA tournament last year and holds a 4-0 winning record for the current season, but associate coach Filip Prostran said the team’s biggest problem might be living up to the standards it set last year.
Prostran says the players face “high and unrealistic” expectations, which the team must learn to manage if it wants to succeed.
It may come as a surprise that the coach of a successful team is being cautious about the season, but Prostran says he is trying not to get too ahead of himself and the rest of his team — and for a very good reason.
“To be honest, the togetherness is the secret to our success,” he said, adding that it will be challenging to maintain cohesion as there are many new faces joining the team this year.
“We’re looking to re-establish that (cohesion) with a big influx of new players,” he said. “It’s a big culture shift.”
After the end of last season, many of the team’s most important leaders graduated, leaving room for many new, young players, many of whom Prostran says lack the experience the seniors brought to the the team’s previous incarnation.
These young players may be expected to fill a big void, Prostran said, though he stressed that should not necessarily be the case.
“We can’t expect too much from our first years, and we can’t place too much on them,” he said.
Prostran says he plans to address these concerns through road trips and group presentations to get everybody working together, which he says may translate into a positive effect on the team’s performance on the field.
“At this point, a lot is still unknown,” Prostran said. “I won’t know how good we are until probably about three-quarters into the season. In the end, it’s about not defining the season by wins but by growth and team unity.”