A 72nd-minute goal from first-year striker Colin O’Dwyer gave the Varsity Blues all three points in the standings, handing the Rams men’s soccer team their first loss of the season at their home opener at Downsview Park.
The 1-0 loss was more than disappointing for the team and the hundreds of fans in attendance. The Rams dominated the first half, with a high press that kept the Varsity Blues mostly under control.
Towards the end of the first half, play became a bit chippy. First-year Varsity Blues midfielder Shon Siegelwachs got a yellow card, followed by fourth-year Rams midfielder Sean Fafinski, and fourth-year Varsity Blues defender Matthew Paoletta.
The best chance of the half fell to rookie Justin Santos after a sloppy pass from Varsity Blues goalkeeper Jacob Gundermann. The ball was collected by Santos, who went one-on-one with Gundermann. The first-year goalkeeper made an outstanding right-handed save to keep the game scoreless going into halftime.
There were some chances the Rams could have capitalized on regardless of who was in net, said head coach Filip Prostran — although he made sure to praise Gundermann for his saves.
“It’s a game of chances, that’s the story of soccer and you see that at every level,” said Prostran.
The second half began the same way the first half ended, with plenty of late challenges that slowed the game down and intensified the atmosphere, as well as another series of yellow cards for Santos, Luca Di Marco, Faisal Ghaffur and Zakaria Abdi.
In the 72nd minute, a cross came into the Rams box that was headed down, bounced once, and slipped into the bottom corner to give the Varsity Blues the lead they never relinquished.
“It was just a bit of a mess in the middle,” said fifth-year goalkeeper Praveen Ahilan. “They beat us to the ball and got it in the goal. We were unlucky and missed our chances.”
Only four minutes later a late challenge from Santos sent a Varsity Blues defender into the bleachers and left him rolling on the ground off the field of play. The Rams players and fans became incensed when the player rolled back onto the pitch and stopped the game from getting back underway.
A fracas ensued with players yelling at each other which culminated in one fan coming onto the field and shoving a Varsity Blues player, the fan was promptly thrown out by the referee.
In the last 10 minutes of regular time and the entirety of stoppage time, the fans cheered their players on and jeered the Varsity Blues players as well as the referee.
The crowd “was fantastic,” said Prostran. “It was electric. They were cheering, going crazy, yelling, screaming — for the most part, all positive stuff.”
The Rams men’s soccer will look to bounce back next weekend against the Nipissing Lakers. The Lakers are currently undefeated, with seven goals scored in two games.
The Rams are scheduled to play the Lakers on Oct. 8 in North Bay. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.