Busy off-season produces results for Huskies men’s soccer

By in Sports & Health

Sports Editor

Following countless hours of summer training and three tough exhibition matches against top-rated Ontario soccer programs York University and Toronto FC Academy, the Huskies men’s soccer squad is ready for another year of Canada West competition.

With the new season right around the corner, the men’s soccer team is looking to bounce back with a vengeance after last season’s devastating mere two point exclusion from the Canadian Interuniversity Sport playoffs.

The prairie dogs’ gruelling offseason efforts were evident over the weekend as they effortlessly defeated the Red Deer College Kings 3-0 and 6-2 on Aug. 28 and 29 at PotashCorp’s Field 7.

Part of a two game non-conference series, the matches were aimed at continuing to help the Huskies prepare for the upcoming season, slated to begin Sept. 12.

Huskie Steve Irinici scored twice and Jordian Farahini once for the men’s soccer team Saturday afternoon in the Huskies 3-0 shutout.

The Huskies looked calm and controlled as the majority of the match saw action in the opposition’s defensive zone, with few offensive opportunities presenting themselves to the young Red Deer squad.

Coming up short in the CIS playoff race last season, the Huskies have utilized the slogan “practice makes perfect.”

In addition to recently training with the internationally renowned Toronto FC Academy and last year’s CIS champions York University, the Huskies also managed to clinch the Victoria Keg Cup in March by defeating Trinity Western University 2-1 in the tournament’s final.

Huskies Josh Northey and Jerson Barandica-Hamilton also became the first players in the history of the men’s soccer program to be named to the Canadian team for the International University Sports Federation Games over the summer.

It is this kind of experience that will add depth to Saskatchewan’s core and greatly improve their chances of reaching CIS playoff status in 2009-10.

Huskies head coach Bryce Chapman has been at the helm of organizing the extensive off-season training schedule that has found the Huskies nearly travelling coast to coast in hopes of bettering their chances in the Canada West.

“It was the best camp I’ve put together,” Chapman said. “We worked closely with the Toronto FC, they put us up in the Bank of Montreal stadium and had us in the Major League Soccer locker room there.”

“The best thing is that we were playing against some really good competition.”

The Huskies played two games against the Toronto FC Academy, losing the first 4-1 and tying the second 1-1. The third and final match of the Ontario road trip was played against last year’s CIS champs, York University, where the Huskies lost a close game 3-2.

After a brief two-year hiatus, Huskies forward Saud Ahmad returned to the soccer team’s arsenal. He readily agrees that the Toronto training camp was a definite highlight of his summer.

“Being in the Bank of Montreal stadium was exciting for sure,” said Ahmad. “It seats 20,000 fans. It was cool because not many guys can say they’ve played there against the pro guys. It was nice getting out of Saskatoon for awhile and experiencing a bigger city.”

When asked what valuable lessons he learned in Toronto as a coach, Chapman said it was the little things that count.

“When you work with the professional side you see how things should be done, and it’s details that win championships. The fine little things right from travel to timetable during the day, to diets for our players, for physio and recovery. It’s all the things, not just on the field but the whole picture, which really is crucial.”

The Huskies men’s soccer team is preparing for a match against the Huskies Alumni on Sept. 5 and open the CIS season on Sept. 12 at home when they go head to head with the Trinity Western University Spartans.