As the time wound down on the Ryerson Rams’ final game of the season on Oct. 21, midfielder Alessia Carvalho couldn’t keep her eyes off the clock.
Ten minutes turned into five, then three. Soon, there were just 60 seconds left in her last ever game wearing a Rams jersey.
“I was like, ‘Oh no, this is actually coming to an end,’” Carvalho said. “When that final whistle blew, I just looked up and thought, ‘Wow. It’s over.’”
Once time had expired, Carvalho was instantly swarmed by her teammates. She looked for defender Gillian Rossi and they hugged. Carvalho and Rossi are both in their fourth and final year at Ryerson.
The pair walked off the Rams’ home field at Downsview Park together for the last time as teammates.
According to Carvalho, those last 10 minutes of the game ticked down far too quickly. She said it “would have been nice” if the time had gone by a little slower.
As for Rossi, the whole season breezed by.
“I was very excited (for my final season) but also nervous. I know how fast our season goes,” Rossi said. “When you get into your first year, you see the graduating players and you know that’s going to be you someday, so when the time actually came, it was starting to click with me … that next year I wouldn’t be there.”
The story continues after the infographic.
For both players, the end of their time as Rams is bittersweet. However, Rossi was able to end hers off on the highest note possible.
In their second-last game of the season, she scored her first ever Ontario University Athletics (OUA) goal in a 3-0 win against the Laurentian Voyageurs.
“I was sort of speechless, actually,” Rossi said. “I was just so happy.”
And interim head coach Natalie Bukovec was just as thrilled about Rossi’s achievement.
“I almost felt like I could cry tears of joy for Gillian,” Bukovec said. “She’s someone who leaves her blood and sweat on the field every single game … She was so deserving.”
Carvalho was hoping for similar results, but her season didn’t quite have the same storybook ending as Rossi’s.
“This year, I unfortunately only scored one goal. OK, I scored three but two were called offside,” she said with a laugh. “They weren’t offside.”
The story continues after the infographic.
One of those non-goals occurred in their final game, which ended up being a 1-1 tie against the Nipissing Lakers. Carvalho said her goal should have counted and her coach backs her up.
“I would say, whether I’m biased or not, it was onside,” Bukovec said. “Being offside in a game that we obviously wanted to win was super tough. It was just sheer bad luck.”
This bad luck hung over the team all season. The Rams had the third-highest shots on net across the OUA, with 199, but they only scored 13 goals in 16 games to show for it. The team finished tied for fifth-last in the OUA with 16 points and a 3-6-7 record.
They did have a chance to make the playoffs by winning their final two games in regulation. They won their first, but the tie game against Nipissing ended their season.
Despite this unfortunate end, it did not change the two seniors’ outlook on the campaign.
“Of course it would have been nice to make playoffs, but … the way we played has improved a huge amount from my first year,” Rossi said. “I’m really proud of us.”
“I had a really good year performance-wise. I felt that no matter what game we played … I still gave it my all,” Carvalho said.
With nothing left to leave out on the field, Carvalho and Rossi are now looking toward the future.
With one year of player eligibility at the OUA level left, Rossi is hoping to play one more season as she continues on to teachers’ college. Carvalho is taking the year after graduation off and is hoping to play soccer in some form, whether it’s in a women’s league or recreationally.
Bukovec, on the other hand, is left with the challenge of trying to fill the spaces the two impact players left behind.
“Gillian is … a natural leader. She’s basically the glue that holds our team together. It’s tough to see what the year is going to look like without a Gillian,” she said. “Alessia is one of the quickest players in the OUA … she’s a scoring threat.
“It’s going to be a tough loss for us … I wish we had (them) back for a fifth.”
But Rossi and Carvalho are not too worried about the future of the team without them.
“They’re going to be just fine. There’s so many leaders on that team,” Rossi said. “Based off the way they played this year, I’m really excited to see what they do next year.”
“(We realized) we could be a national-ranked team,” Carvalho said. “Next year and the years to come, it’ll get better.”
Rossi does have some parting advice for her old teammates, though.
“It goes by so fast and it’s sad when you don’t have it anymore,” she said. “But just do your best to enjoy every moment, good and bad, because they all shape you into who you end up to be.”
Top photo credits: Christian Bender/Ryerson Athletics (left), Alex D’Addese/Ryerson Athletics (right), Aidan Lising/Ryersonian (illustration)