Royals men’s soccer a mystery in coming season
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
It’s safe to say that last year’s performance by the Douglas College Royals’ men’s soccer team was somewhat bittersweet. Coming into the playoffs with a .500-win percentage, and then earning a berth at the CCAA National Championships was the sweet part. Coming in 7th out of 8th was the bitter part.
Since the departure of several large players at the end of the 2015-2016 season, the Royals have struggled to find an identity. However, they did find themselves a star in Race Williams, who captured the PACWEST Rookie of the Year award for the Royals. This year, the situation is a bit strange.
Other than Williams, the Royals find themselves with almost a completely new roster. While exciting, the move is also frightening. A completely new roster could mean a rough first year for many of the new Royals, while they adjust to PACWEST levels of competition. With the season slated to start on September 6, many are excited to see the new Royals roster in action, as the team has been very diligent about keeping their training out of the spotlight.
That being said, it’s safe to say that the Royals will probably be a top three team in the PACWEST, likely finishing third once again. The undisputed favourites for the league would have to be the VIU Mariners. With Victor Blasco finding his pre-season legs off a devastating injury last year, and PACWEST’s Player of the Year Shun Tasako leading the team, VIU is expected to be a dominant force.
Of course, there is also the reigning PACWEST Champions and CCAA Bronze medalists, the Capilano Blues, though the offseason has been tough to the Blues. Their leading player, Kristian Yli-Hietanen, has moved on with his career, taking his talents to the UBC Thunderbirds. But even without Kristian the team is expected to be a powerhouse. Only time will tell how vital he was to their efforts.
Langara and Quest are expected to struggle once again, meaning the Royals are a solid second-third place team, unless they find themselves struggling. It’s unlikely it will come to that while Robby Toor and Paul Bahia are still the heads of the program.
The Royals have the potential to be league contenders, though they also have the potential to be league bottom feeders. It will be a brutal schedule to start the season, as a flurry of games will see the Royals play the first quarter of their season by the end of this week. Come next week, the Royals’ position among teams in the PACWEST should become much more clear.