U Sports Soccer: A draw in the Hogtown Hoedown

The  University of Toronto Varsity Blues and the Ryerson University Rams failed to give each other the lowdown, in the downtown Hogtown showdown Sunday afternoon, playing to a deadlocked 0-0 .

The match was tightly contested throughout, and neither side was able to get on the front foot early. The first chance came in the 14th minute, with Ryerson forward Luca Di Marco firing his header off the crossbar- it was only seconds later that U of T would get a chance of their own. Ryerson netminder Ali Ghanzfari made a miraculous save in a scramble, keeping the game level one third through the half. 

The rest of the first half passed by without much notice. Other than a pair of chances for either team. Neither side was bewildering offensively, and on the defensive side of the equation- each team were near perfect. The one man who bucked the common trend in the half was Toronto midfielder Atchu Sivananthan, who hit the target five times.

Photo: Varsity Blues

The second half of the game did not have much more to offer. Both goalies stood tall at moments, however, neither were called upon too many times.  

In speaking with 49 after the match, U of T head coach Ilya Orlov said that his sides main focus of the day was the tactical plan. “ we knew it would be hard-fought in the  middle, so we worked on our press, and the game played out how we planned.” he also continued on by saying that his team could have pressed more aggressively near the end in order to find the winning goal.  Although, he felt his team executed their planned tactics to precision.

One of the factors which made the game tough for both sides was the temperature and blistering sunlight. Although for fans watching a sun-soaked soccer game is a pleasant time, as a player it can lead to overheating and dehydration. Making matters worse was the Varsity  Stadium pitch- which is artificial. Artificial playing surfaces have become notorious in the soccer community for their scorching heat in hot temperatures. In the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, some of the pitches were measured to hit over 80 degrees celsius- it would not have surprised me if that temperature was matched on Sunday afternoon. 

The 2015 world cup was also the first time that  FIFA began to integrate sanctioned cooling breaks through the games. These breaks are a rarity across the world, but in both the women’s and men’s matches on Sunday, the referees ordered them. Orlov spoke to 49 in regards to the usefulness of these breaks, saying “They’re good to get a bit of a rest, but there’s not much you can do tactically in such a short time.” by that quote, it seems as though the goal of the cooling break has been achieved. 

For Ryerson, the result is their third clean sheet of the season, all of which have come under the eye of veteran netminder Ali Ghanzafari. Ryersonrams.com spoke to Ghanzafari after the match, where the netminder said “We were confident and dominant in the second half.” unfortunately for the  Yonge street squad, that mentality did not translate to a goal.

The two downtown sides will not have to wait long to get the upper hand on the other, as the two schools are set to face each other this coming weekend at Ryerson’s home field,  Downsview Park. 

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