Men’s soccer off to the big show
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
Heading into the Provincial Championships (October 26-27), the men’s soccer team had one main goal in mind: qualify for Nationals in New Brunswick. A win in the semis was all the team needed to get through to Nationals, and they did just that with a 2-0 over the second seed, Langara. Although they lost to Thompson Rivers University in the final on penalty kicks, the fact remained: the Royals were going to Nationals.
“We knew the first game was the important one and the boys came out flying,” commented coach Robby Toor, before noting that the loss in the final wasn’t a huge issue. “They knew the ultimate goal of the season was to win a national title and we’ve qualified for that.”
Sunday (the final) showed a lot of great character in the older guys and even the rookies.
Keeper Marc Mincieli expressed some disappointment, but was clear that the team knows what the real prize is. “Our spirits are high and we are going to take the lessons learned and use them as our drive to excel in New Brunswick!”
Estefan Corra knows the journey isn’t over yet, but has no reservations about how he thinks Nationals will play out. “It won’t be easy, but we’ve put in a lot of work to get back to this final tournament and I believe this season is our season to bring it home.”
And what work the team has put in. With 14 rookies, it’s a little surprising how well this confident bunch of Royals has done. After a bit of a rough start to the year, the team went on to post an 8-2-4 record en route to the Picture Province.
“We had many egos in week one, however, we’ve all straightened out and become the brotherhood that we are today,” says Mincieli, who will be heading into his second national tourney as a member of the Royals. “Training this far has been more intense than ever and we have an all or nothing mentality going which we can attribute to our coaches and each other for being so competitive.”
Toor also spoke on the change the team has undergone. “I think the biggest thing that we’ve been proud of is the way this team has come together. We’ve gone through some adversity over the course of the season—ups and downs. I think the biggest thing for any team is the character they show when you’re down. And our boys have always bounced back.”
Different from previous Royals squads, this year’s edition hasn’t featured one specific star. Various players have stepped up and done what was needed of them throughout the year—like a true team. Case in point, as pointed out by Toor, the team doesn’t have a double-digit scorer this year; rather, their leading scorers have six apiece with multiple others contributing a few as well.
But for all the growth the team has gone through this year, no one thinks they’re at their best yet.
“’The sky is the limit,’” says Corra, hauling out the time-tested phrase.
Coach Toor adds, “I feel that at Nationals we will show that we’ve had yet to peak. And that’s always been our goal, to peak at Nationals, not before. We’re going hoping to bring back a gold medal. I definitely feel that we have the team to get the job done.”
The Royals have already turned heads this season, but the final act promises to be even better.