The Blues were favoured to win on this windy Saturday afternoon, since the Ryerson Rams were a middle division team last season, in comparison to the Blues, who came third in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Cup soccer competition in 2019.
However, it was obvious the Blues needed a kickstart to get going in the game, and they certainly provided one. They notched five shots from the 22nd to the 32nd minute.
Boasting a relatively new squad, the Blues came into the game with a 3-5-2 formation. While this provided them with a lot of offensive firepower, it left them somewhat exposed out wide. The Rams nipped at their heels and counterattacked whenever they could with their striker Shea Jeffery-Novak.
“I think we understand that when we have our wing-backs going forward that [we are giving up] channels,” Coach Angelo Cavalluzzo said in a post-game interview. “We know that that’s something that will expose us… but we’re fine with it. I think the things that it gives us going forward kind of outweigh [anything we lose]. It’s kind of a risk-reward [balance], and we think the risk is definitely a little bit lower and the reward is very very high.”
The risk proved to be worth it when the Blues found the back of the net in the second half of play. Miranda Badovinac drilled a ball past the Rams goalie at close range after a stellar cross by Hannah Chown in the 64th minute. It only seemed right for the striker and captain of the team to put the Blues ahead in the second half with the team’s first goal of the season.
The natural response from the Rams after this goal was to get overly physical after the Blues scored the goal. The game turned from clean consecutive passes to a clutter of shoving, elbows, and slide tackles. The Rams received two yellow cards in the second half in their scrappy attempts to win the ball back and score a goal.
The coaches expected the game to get chippy as well. “We knew going in that we were probably the better team from a footballing perspective, but we knew the fight had to be there… physically,” said Angelo.
The Blues turned up the intensity to hold off the Rams for the rest of the game. Eventually, a passing mistake resulted in a counterattack lead by Savannah Robinson of the Rams. The Rams crossed a dangerous ball into the box and an opponent Rams striker was eye to eye with the goal, but goalie Levanta Staggolis made a spectacular diving save — quite literally — which saved the game for the Blues.
The Blues play the Rams again on October 2 at Downsview Park, where they look to maintain their dominance against the other team. Given the results of this game, with Toronto outshooting the Rams 11–3, continuing the streak seems quite likely. Ultimately, the Blues are attempting to get one step closer to the OUA championship — a goal that coaches, players, and staff alike are looking forward to achieving.