After last year’s record-breaking season, the Huskies men’s soccer team is back on the pitch and hungry for more.
In 2014, the team claimed it’s first Canada West championship in program history. The squad returns its top three leading scorers from last year as well as their starting keeper and a handful of veteran defenders. After a heartbreaking extra time loss in the quarter-finals at nationals last year, this year’s edition of the team enters 2015 with more experience and motivation.
The men’s soccer team head coach Bryce Chapman is hoping his team can return to form this season.
“I thought we competed with the nation’s best last year in a tournament where you lose one game and you’re out. We haven’t lost in regulation yet at nationals and when you put the eight best teams in the country together, it’s sometimes a bounce that doesn’t go your way,” Chapman said. “So we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and keep adding to what we’ve built and hopefully that puts us in a good spot at the end of the year.”
Over the past few years, the soccer program at the U of S has seen a complete turnaround. In 2009, the Huskies went 2–10–2, good enough for last place in the conference. Just five short years later, they were hoisting the CanWest championship trophy.
“If you look back at the last six years, we’ve taken significant steps forward. We’ve medalled in the last five of six and the last two years we’ve been to the national tournament. Our goals don’t change, you always want to put yourself in a divisional final four which gives you the best chance at being at the national tournament,” Chapman said.
The powerful offence is paced by Brett Levis, David Brown and Luigi Bekwayo — all of which finished in the top 10 in scoring in the conference last season. Levis actually led the conference in scoring with nine goals, while Brown wasn’t far behind with eight. Fifth-year keeper Michal Bandula will anchor the backend with defenders Fabian Dale and Carson MacDonald expecting to play key roles.
“I think we’re a quick team, we’ve shown we still have that attacking ability and a bit of flare and creativity, so we want to keep attacking teams versus what’s traditionally found in Saskatchewan where you sit back and defend,” Chapman said.
The only player who won’t return from last season is former captain Jordian Farahani. He was the undoubted leader and voice of the team and his loss will be a tough hole to fill. That being said, Chapman think he has a worthy replacement.
“With no disrespect to [Farahani] because he did a fantastic job, but I’m very happy with who our captain is this year. We’ve named Garrett Peters captain, he’s a fifth-year. He brings a lot of experience, he played for a few games in China this past summer. I think we’re in really good hands with what he’s doing as a leader.”
With a nice blend of veteran experience, youth and of course, skill, the Huskies look poised for another strong season in the CanWest. They return with a nearly identical roster from last year’s gold medal winning team, and with another year of experience under their belts, the sky’s the limit for the Dogs.
“They’re a young group and you have to experience final fours, you have to experience national tournaments to keep getting better,” Chapman said. “I don’t feel we have any major holes, it’s just a matter of putting your head down and making sure you stay consistent. But in this league, when you’re sitting at only 12 games, you don’t have much margin for error.”
Sept. 11 will see the Huskies officially start their season as they play MacEwan University at 12:30 p.m. On Sept. 13 they will have a hotly contested match with the University of Alberta, with the game scheduled for 2:15 p.m.