Men’s soccer preview: September 17

Photo by Davie Wong
Photo by Davie Wong

Royals got the Blues (Capilano Blues, that is)

By Davie Wong, Sports Editor

No one can deny that it’s been a hard week for the Royals men’s soccer team. Three games in the span of four days will bring down the level of any team. But next week might be their hardest week yet. They only play one game, and that’s on Sunday. However, they play against the defending provincial champions and defending CCAA silver medalists. The Capilano Blues are not a team to be trifled with.

The first week of action was pretty good for the Royals. They ended 2–1–0. However, their form was inconsistent this weekend. They looked to struggle a bit against the Langara Falcons, and barely picked up a gritty win there. Then they just completely dropped the ball against VIU, and got run over. While they managed to turn it around against Quest the next day, no one will argue with me when I say that beating Quest is not a huge achievement.

The team will need to turn it on big time next week if they want to stand a chance against the Capilano Blues, because the Blues look unstoppable coming out of the gates. A young team last year with a ton of first-year rookies, the team is now older, and arguably much better than last year. Lead by fifth-year veteran Devan Woolley in the midfield, and PACWEST’s Men’s Soccer Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and All-Star Kristian Yli-Hietanen, the Blues are looking red-hot.

They came into the season with a commanding 1–0 win over the Quest Kermodes. They then picked up their game and dominated Langara, running all over, around, and through them with a 5–0 win. This is the same Langara team that gave the Royals a run for their money to start the season.

However, all is not lost for the Royals. Capilano happens to have a tough match against the Mariners the day before going up against the Royals. If VIU plays close to as well as they did against the Royals, it should wear the Blues down some. Hopefully, travel and fatigue will be a factor that the Blues will have to accommodate for.

Whatever shape the Blues may be in come game time against the Royals, there are a couple key things the Royals will need to do on their end. First off, they need to get their offensive dots connected. Two out of three Royals goals came early in the game this week, while teams were still off guard. Furthermore, two of three goals from the Royals came from bad mistakes that the opposition nearly gifted them. It’s unlikely that the Blue will do either of those.

Secondly, they have to lock down Yli-Hietanen and Keith Jackson. Yli-Hietanen is a lethal threat, who, if left unguarded, will tear through a team. But Jackson is a stranger variable. He’s coming off a hat-trick against Langara, so it’s assumed he’ll be ever-present for the Blues next week.

The Royals also may want to consider shutting down Jackson’s set-up man Nic Morello. Morello set up Jackson for most of his hat-tricks, as well as scoring from the penalty spot against Langara. Having been proven a dangerous distributor, it would be wise to minimize his time with the ball.

No matter what the result, the game between these two heavyweights will likely be a fight of epic proportions that is retold time and time again.