The Rams men’s soccer team has advanced to the OUA semifinals after a dominant 4-0 victory at Downsview Park Wednesday over the Waterloo Warriors.
The scoring started early for the Rams, as third-year midfielder Christian Westlaken scored his first goal eight minutes into the game.
Westlaken had not scored up to this point during his tenure with the Rams. He finished with an assist and four shots in his rookie year, and had two shots in a loss against Ontario Tech in his second year.
Fourth-year midfielder Sean Fafinski, who also scored Wednesday, took notice of Westlaken’s performance.
“I’m happy for him, he deserves it,” said Fafinski. “He’s been playing out of his mind this whole season. He’s one of our leaders and he deserves both goals.”
Rams head coach Filip Prostran also commented on Westlaken’s leadership.
“His calming presence and his ability to find a way to win are invaluable to the team,” said Prostran.
Westlaken scored early in the second half as well to put the team up 3-0.
The second goal of the night came from first-year midfielder Justin Santos, who also assisted on Westlaken’s first goal. After dribbling the ball from the midfield down towards the net, he spiralled the ball past second-year Waterloo goalkeeper Simon Grande.
Fafinski called the goal one of the best of the season.
“Santos has been playing very well,” said Fafinski. “He can make something out of nothing.”
The last goal of the night came courtesy of Fafinski in the 74th minute of the game, removing any doubt that the Rams would advance to the next round.
Prostran said for this playoff game he focused on enhancing the Rams game plan instead of worrying about how Waterloo would line up.
“It’s all about us,” Prostran said. “You can’t really control how a coach is going to line up or all that. We focused on our principles of play, the things that we do well, and just worrying about getting us a little bit better and sharper for the game.”
Fafinski echoed his coach’s sentiments as the team prepares to play the York Lions, the second ranked team in the country, in the semifinals. York beat the University of Toronto Varsity Blues 1-0 Wednesday to set up the semifinal match.
“We’ll look into both teams, we’ll see tonight who qualified but mostly it’s about us,” said Fafinski, speaking before the York-U of T game. “We’ll focus on our system and focus on what we can do best.”
The Rams played the Lions in the 2018 OUA semifinals, with the Lions winning 1-0. Now with a game against them this upcoming Saturday at York Lions Stadium, they will have a chance to make it to the finals and win their first conference championship.
Donald Higney was the Co-Sports Editor & Reporter of On The Record News for the Fall 2021 semester.