After failing to net a single goal in their first game against longtime rivals the Varsity Blues, the Rams not only put themselves on the board with two goals but netted a historic victory made sweeter as it happened at their Downsview Park home opener.
The two goals from second-year defender and midfielder Skylar Sheehan-Alleyene and fourth-year midfielder Christiana Daniel helped secure what was also the team’s first win this season.
“Obviously there’s that Toronto rivalry… so it’s a little more nerve wracking,” said Rams women’s head coach Natalie Bukovec.
Last week the Rams dropped their first game of the season at Varsity Stadium. That game started off with some hope as second-year forward Shea Jeffery-Novak put the ball in the back of the net in the 30th minute. Unfortunately, the goal was taken away after she was ruled offside.
A repeating outcome seemed possible at Downsview Park on Saturday, as fourth-year Varsity Blue winger Miranda Badovinac put the ball past Rams keeper Elisa Lapadula in the 34th minute.
Nine minutes later Sheehan-Alleyene was given an opportunity to put the Rams on the board. After connecting on an across-the-field pass, she was able to put the ball past Varsity Blue goalkeeper Maddy Nardin to tie the game up while also scoring Ryerson’s first goal of the season.
“It’s just the start for me, I hope to be scoring way more goals,” said Sheehan-Alleyene. She said that it felt like all of her practices came together to help her have the opportunity to score.
Bukovec said that Sheehan-Alleyene told her at halftime that she was glad to stay back at practice yesterday because they practiced passing and headers, which was how she scored.
“She’s a phenomenal athlete with incredible speed and has a great left foot. She was a key part of the objective tonight,” Bukovec said.
After last week’s game against the Varsity Blues, Bukovec said that she focused on how the specific lines were playing, especially the front line and the midline.
The backline was key, especially at the end of the first half as goalkeeper Elisa Lapadula stopped a penalty kick from Badovinac, keeping the game at a draw. Lapadula stopped seven out of eight shots on goal from the Varsity Blues over the course of the game.
“She’s our spine,” said Sheehan-Alleyene.
Early in the second half, Daniel was able to get another header past Nardin, giving the Rams a 2-1 lead. Daniel has only scored three goals before this one in her four seasons with the team.
“I don’t usually score, I’m the one who finesses the ball and doesn’t really shoot,” said Daniel. “It’s nice to be a part of it.”
The rare goal from Daniel’s seemed to be what the Rams needed, said Bukovec.
“It seemed to ramp everyone up,” she said, “In the first half we were a little late to get going but after halftime it seemed to ramp everyone up and we were able to capitalize on a goal.”
The Rams finished the game off strong defensively, as the Varsity Blues made six shot attempts in the second half.
Once the team won, they poured out onto the field to celebrate with each other.
“It’s good to have a little bit of fun,” said Bukovec, “24 hours after you win or lose is a good amount of time to either celebrate or dwell.”
The team now turns its sights to the Nippissing Lakers, who are 2-0 to start their season (although that could change when they face off against the Algoma Thunderbirds, Sunday in Sault Ste. Marie).
The Rams play the Lakers on Oct. 8 at Nipissing Field in North Bay. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m.
Donald Higney was the Co-Sports Editor & Reporter of On The Record News for the Fall 2021 semester.