A big net to fill
The men’s soccer season is young and so is the new starting goalie. But even without the steadying presence of CIS first team all-Canadian Ben Ur in net, nobody is worried that the backup has the top job.
Jason Ross, 19, knows the weight is on his shoulders now that he’s replacing the graduating keeper, but he says he relishes the opportunity.
“Me, personally, I really don’t get that stressed,” says Ross.
“If anything, I like that spotlight. If you’re going to be a goalie you kind of have to. And I think I can definitely, in a year or two, get up to his level. It’s something to strive for,” he says.
Only in his second year, Ross has started every game this season, a fair jump from the two games he played as a backup. His training right now focuses primarily on the technical aspects of his game.
Ur has confidence in the new goalie as well. “Looking at him as a player right now,” he says, “I definitely feel that he’s at a much higher level than I was when I was in my second year.”
Ross’ coaches are by no means new faces to him. He already has a lot of experience with Tigers head coach Pat Nearing.
“He was actually my first real coach. He coached me for about five or six years of my youth career, which started when I was about 10 or 11 with a club team in Bedford,” remembers Ross.
“He coached me right up until 17 years old. He’s been pretty much my first and only coach.”
Nearing has nothing but praise for his long-time student either, describing him as “very intense, very competitive, very skilled as a goaltender, and a great team player.”
And the goalkeeper coach? None other than Ur himself.
“Ben has had so much experience, playing in the CIS for as long as he did, being at the top of the country. It isn’t weird at all [to have him as my coach],” says Ross.
“Last year I was backing him up. We’d be training and doing drills and he would kind of run it, so it’s really no different this year. Only now, come game time, I’m the one in the net.”
Ross has seen a lot of early success this year playing for a squad that has, at times, struggled to score. He has kept his 2-2-2 team competitive, conceding only eight goals in six games.
Soccer fans will get to know Ross pretty well in the years to come, as he intends to use all five years of eligibility. He will finish his second year as a science student and hopes to transfer into Dal’s architecture program, extending his degree by another four years.
Ross is a bit young yet to imagine where he’ll be in four years but he hopes to continue playing soccer once his Tigers career draws to a close.
“I think I would love to go to tryouts and see if there are any possibilities there. I mean, if you’re going to play a sport, you always want to be the best.”
His coaches and teammates expect nothing less from him, and with this season and three more ahead of him, anything is possible.
“I definitely feel that he has the skill set and the confidence to be the best goalkeeper in this league, for sure,” says Ur.