For the first time this season, the Huskies men’s soccer team had earned consecutive wins at a crucial point in the season.
This young team, which includes 12 first-year players, is heading into the final regular-season weekend after winning four straight games. Before this winning streak, the team had not earned a win in their previous seven matches — four of which were ties.
“When we had those ties in mid-season, our performances were good and we were outshooting and out-chancing our opponents, but we were not being rewarded for the work,” said head coach Bryce Chapman. “We have had a [long] season with a bunch of road games, so it is exciting to see the hunger this young group has.”
Last week was a monumental one for the team as they defeated the formerly second-place Calgary Dinos and then took down the first-place Mount Royal Cougars. As a result, the Huskies jumped ahead of Calgary in the standings to take the reins of second place in the prairie division heading into the final regular-season weekend of the year.
First-year midfielder Fraser McLeod scored in the 86th minute to earn the big win against Calgary.
“It is so awesome for the team. The momentum is finally going and things are clicking. Three wins in a row now and we are moving up the standings,” McLeod said after the big win against Calgary.
It was another second-half goal that pushed the Huskies past Mount Royal with fifth-year veteran Marcello Gonzalez scoring his first goal of the season. Gonzalez’s beautiful volley toppled the division leaders.
“It is unbelievable — I have been waiting to get a goal all season and I am happy it came [in] this game because I had a lot of family down to watch today,” said Gonzalez, a Regina-native. “I took a good first touch, it went up for a good volley on the weak foot and I just hit it — it came off my foot nicely.”
A tough September month in a short season typically buries most teams in the Canada West conference and destroys any shot at post-season success. Chapman ensures his squad will continue to improve on their impressive performances and will not lose focus as their games begin to carry higher stakes.
“We preach the same message since day one,” said Chapman. “We want to make sure our performances are getting better, and when the performance gets better, results start to fall for the team.”
Chapman also points out the team’s young players are progressing in front of his own eyes.
“You can see this group is starting to mature and grind to pull off the win in tight games,” said Chapman. “We are focusing hard on training and not getting ahead of ourselves.”
The significance of these two wins against high-quality opponents cannot be understated. Now winners of four straight games, the Huskies are in a prime position to host a home playoff game, as the top two seeds in each division earn that luxury.
“The guys are comfortable with the field and the crowd,” said Chapman. “Playing at home is a massive piece — we like playing on our home field in front of the fans and we are definitely going after the second spot [in the division].”
The Huskies will head to Edmonton to finish their regular season, with matches against the University of Alberta on Oct. 19 and MacEwan University on Oct. 20. The results of the final regular-season weekend of the year will dictate playoff seeding for the quarter-final matches to be played on Oct. 26.
Visit huskies.usask.ca to see if the Huskies secured a home playoff game after their final regular-season game at MacEwan.
Photo: Supplied by GetMyPhoto.ca | Huskie Athletics