Playoff Push

Photo by Davie Wong
Photo by Davie Wong

Men’s soccer provincials preview

By Davie Wong, Sports Editor

The men went into the soccer season with gold in their eyes. Although that is still the goal, the goal is now more of a vision, distant and wavering. The PACWEST soccer season has not been kind for the men’s soccer team. The team has been plagued by persistent injuries, suspensions, and discipline issues throughout the season.

But let’s go back to the beginning. It’s hard to believe that less than two months ago, we were just kicking off soccer season. Under the leadership of new captain Tony McCullough, the men started their season with a thrilling extra time win against the Langara Falcons. They followed it up with a loss to the VIU Mariners and a win against the Quest Kermodes, all in the same week.

The next six games were rather poor from the Royals. With a record of 2–3–1 over the span, the team had more than their fair share of hard losses. A 6–0 beating from the Capilano Blues, and a 4–3 thrashing by the league’s worst team were the lowlights of this squad.

The last three games have seen the squad really make an effort to bounce into provincial form. A record of 1–1–1 saw the team secure their spot in the playoffs and lock in their seeding.

In terms of talent, this year was a key for the men who are really retooling. Rookie Race Williams came 4th in the scoring race, racking up 5 goals in 11 games. Fellow Royals rookie Matteo Serka also ranked in the top 10 in terms of scoring, coming in 6th place with his 4 goals in 8 games.

This year was a huge step away from the previous year’s with fifth year winger Isaac Kyei filling in a more supportive role, supplying through balls and chances for the youngsters instead of racking up the tallies.

Goalkeeping-wise, it was always going to be impossible to fill in the shoes of Marc Mincelli, but Jared Horvath and Patrick Dominguez have done a solid job in his stead. Horvath holds an average goals-per-90-minutes of 1.63, and has played in 8 games with 1 shutout, while Dominguez holds an average of 2.56 and has played in 4 games. The two are rookies and have been training with, and under, fourth-year goalkeeper Ricky Gill.

Young talent will be a key as the team looks towards the Provincial Championships. Put up against the VIU Mariners, the Royals will need to be on their top form to take a win here. The Mariners have bested the Royal two out of three times this season. Both of them have been at home.

Although the playoffs will not be at the Royals home, it will still be in the Lower Mainland. Hosted by Capilano University, the two teams will meet up this coming weekend to do battle at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex.

A win means that the Royals will have an opportunity to compete at the National Championships. A loss means another chance for bronze. The Mariners are no pushovers, and the Royals need to focus on them to compete.

One of the keys for the Royals this season is mental momentum. When scoring first, the Royals almost never lose. When getting scored on first, the team seems to deflate and almost surrender. While that has been a project to correct throughout the season, and there have been signs of success, when the pressure really pours on during playoffs, it’ll be an opportunity to showcase whether or not the team can hold up. That being said, the solution could just be to score first.

Still, that happened the last time the two teams met, and the Mariners still came out ahead. However, this time, the Royals will be fielding a full roster for the first time since the beginning of the season. No suspensions, no injuries, and no discipline issues. The Royals are ready to pour it on. Let’s just see if the Mariners sink, or swim.