The men’s soccer team saw their season come to a close on Wednesday night, losing 2-0 away from home to the Ryerson Rams.
Even though they were well aware of their opponent’s style of play — it was their second game against them in five days — head coach Christian Hoefler said the team had a mental lapse early in the game which put the Gaels on their heels.
“We came in prepared,” he said on how the team approached Wednesday’s game. “We had a set plan. Unfortunately, right off the get-go, Ryerson had a quicker start than us and capitalized on a minor mistake we made.”
Hoefler alluded to the speed Ryerson brought to the game at the offset, forcing Queen’s to defend early. Even though they went down 1-0 three minutes in, Hoefler said the Gaels had been in “similar situations before” and weren’t “panicked or out-of-place.”
“I was quite proud of the players … we picked up the ball and brought it right to half,” Hoefler noted of his players’ strong resolve after suffering the early goal. “It just shows, you know, that against a quality team like Ryerson, they will capitalize on mistakes.”
After conceding their first goal, the coach added his players were “quite brave in defending and keeping [Ryerson] at bay,” for the rest of the match. The game’s telling statistic, however, was the Gaels’ lack of offense.
Even though a wave of second-half changes saw the team injected with a new energy, Queen’s recorded only two shots — both of which were not on
target — throughout 90 minutes. In the match, Ryerson continually pressured the Gaels with 21 shots on net. Moreover, the Rams edged the Gaels in corner kicks handily, recording 11 to the visitors’ one.
“I’ll give Ryerson credit — they were a bit more organized [and prepared] to the threat we had,” Hoefler said, adding his team’s execution “had to be a little better in the attacking third … we were lacking in that sense.”
Ultimately, a late Ryerson goal in minute 80 sealed the Gaels’ fate.
“Overall, I mean, it’s a disappointing result in a sense that we really believed we could go further,” Hoefler, who with the loss finished his first season as the Gaels’ full-time head coach. “But either way, I’m proud of our players — they never gave in.”
The Gaels’ 6-8-3 overall record this season was the first time the program fell below .500 since 2008-09. Looking back on the 2017 campaign, Hoefler said things could’ve gone better for his team this season.
“Even though results didn’t go in our favour,” he said, “there’s a lot of quality in our team … A lot of positives from this group of players and a lot of positives for the future.”
Despite the first-round loss, optimism continues to hover at a high for the program. With the coach expecting 18 to 20 of his players to return in the fall, Hoefler said the team will look to play more exhibitions and out-of-season matches so his players “can build together on the field and be more familiar with each other.”
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