Huskie men’s soccer goalkeeper Patrick Pranger may be a newcomer to both Canada and university sports, but — with five shutouts to his name this season, the most recent against the top-ranking Alberta Golden Bears — he is certainly no stranger to the field.
Pranger, second-year marketing major in Edwards School of Business, arrived in Saskatoon two months ago, travelling as an international exchange student from his home in Sankt Anna am Aigen, Austria. On Sep. 28, and then again on Oct. 1, Pranger secured clean sheets, including six saves against the MacEwan Griffins and four against the Golden Bears, two of which came in the last three minutes of the game.
With these 10 saves, and an assist against the Griffins, Pranger led the men’s soccer team to an undefeated weekend. For these accomplishments, Pranger was named both U Sports Athlete of the Week and Canada West First Star.
Pranger is enthusiastic about the recognition he has won, but he also feels that the Huskies men’s soccer team as a whole deserves congratulations.
“It’s an honour for me,” Pranger said. “I came here two months ago, and [to] get all these awards — it’s a crazy feeling right now. It’s hard to describe… I think it’s not just an award for me. It’s an award for the whole team that is a result of the hard work we’ve put in there.”
Although Pranger is now a skilled keeper, he explains that his beginnings in this position were circumstantial rather than a personal choice.
“I started at six years [old] playing football, and I loved to play on the field — I never liked playing as a goalie,” Pranger said. “And the coach told me at the age of eight or nine, I guess, ‘Yeah, Patrick, you’re the tallest, and you have to go into the net. We need a keeper.’ I said, ‘No, no, I’m not going. I don’t want to go.’ [He said], ‘You have to go, we need a keeper.’ And that was the reason why I started being keeper.”
The men’s team came through the weekend with a 4-0 win against the Griffins and a 0-0 tie with the Golden Bears, pushing Saskatchewan to 7-4-1, second ranked in the Prairie division.
Pranger recalls the MacEwan game, where he made a long goalie assist, explaining that the Huskies really came together as a team.
“It was the first game, actually, that we started from the first minute to play confidently, high play, fast one-two touch football… I had a really good game. I was really [well] prepared for it,” Pranger said. “And in this case, I really have to say thanks … to my goalkeeper coach, Kent Kowalski. He’s — I’ve never had a coach like him. He prepares you for a game [perfectly] and gives you that amount of confidence you need.”
Although soccer is his main athletic pursuit, Pranger is also an avid hiker — he travelled to Alaska and the Yukon for a trip before the term — and he fosters an interest in agriculture, helping his parents with their organic vegetable farm in Austria.
To the Huskies’ benefit, Pranger has now fully embraced his role as goalie, enjoying the responsibility that comes with it.
“I still love to play in the field, but I like to play as keeper as well, playing in the back and [having] everything under control,” Pranger said. “You see the whole game in front of you… It’s a lot of pressure for a goalie, but I like this pressure. I actually need it. It keeps you in the game every time… I know I’m the last person. Behind me, there is nothing.”
Patrick Pranger and the Huskies men’s soccer team head west on Oct. 14 and 15 to meet the Calgary Dinos and the Mount Royal Cougars, their two final games in the Prairie division before the Canada West playoffs.
Jessica Klaassen-Wright / Editor-in-Chief
Photo: GetMyPhoto.ca / Supplied