Men’s and women’s soccer teams prepare for playoffs

By in Sports & Health
U of S Huskies midfielder Payton Izsak kicks the ball during the second-half of the Canada West women’s soccer game against the UBC Thunderbirds at Field 7 in Nutrien Park on Oct. 13.

A few weeks away from playoffs, the Huskies soccer teams reflect on their season. Both teams have fewer points than they had at this time last year, but strong individual performances from both veteran and rookie players still stand out in the season so far.

Last season, the men’s team had a run in the championship that ended with a quarter-final 5-1 defeat against the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack — the only goal of the match for the Huskies was scored by striker Tyler Redl. The women’s team was also defeated in the quarter-finals, in a 3-0 match against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.

Before the start of the 2018 season, the men’s team highlighted their returning core players as a strength for the team. Gabriel Buatois, Kwame Opoku-Addai, Marcello Gonzalez, Tyler Redl and Bryce Marinus were the top point scorers last year, and they have continued to make a strong positive impact. This core team is collectively responsible for seven of the 16 goals of the season so far.

This year’s recruits are also worthy of recognition. Rookies Tobi Ojo and Nikolas Baikas have made their mark as point scorers — so far, they have scored three goals each.

The men’s soccer team had a strong start to their season on Aug. 25 with a decisive 4-2 victory against the Calgary Dinos on the Dinos’ home turf. Their next two games, however, were less successful, with a 2-3 loss against the Mount Royal Cougars and a 1-2 defeat against the Alberta Golden Bears.

Midfielder Haley Mercier dribbles the ball downfield during the second-half of the Canada West women’s soccer game against UBC Thunderbirds at Field 7 in Nutrien Park on Oct. 13.

After that, the team pulled off a 2-1 victory against the MacEwan Griffins on Sept. 2, but afterward, they experienced two 0-3 losses — against the UBC Thunderbirds and the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves, respectively — as well as a 0-1 loss against the University of Fraser Valley Cascades.

In their most recent games, the men’s team tied the UBC Okanagan Heat in a 1-1 match, defeated the Griffins again with a score of 2-0, and lost once again to the Golden Bears at 0-4,  before tying the Lethbridge Pronghorns 2-2 and then winning against them 2-1. All in all, it’s been a good season for the men’s team, despite a couple of missed opportunities.

Nine new recruits on the Huskies women’s soccer team were expected to give the team an edge this season and they have not disappointed — the new additions are responsible for nine of the 14 goals of the season so far, with Cassidy Hayward and Taisa Gabruch having scored two goals each and Payton Izsak having scored five.

After two ties and a win between their invitationals and exhibition game, the women’s team kicked off their season with a 2-2 draw against the University of Winnipeg Wesmen. Their tying streak continued with 1-1 games against the Manitoba Bisons and the MacEwan Griffins and a 2-2 match against the UNBC Timberwolves, before ending with a 1-2 loss against the Alberta Pandas.

Afterward, the women’s team lost 0-3 against the Cougars, 0-4 against the Dinos and 1-2 against the Pronghorns. In their more recent games, the team won against the Regina Rams twice, both times with a score of 1-0, lost 0-1 to the Thunderbirds and lost 0-4 to the Victoria Vikes.

Ana Cristina Camacho / Staff Writer

Photos: Heywood Yu