Canada West 2012 Men’s Soccer Preview: Two divisions, expanded playoffs

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EDMONTON – The 2012 Canada West season begins this weekend with Winnipeg, Mount Royal and UNBC all joining the battle for conference supremacy.

Top three teams in both the Prairie and Pacific divisions advance to the post-season. The Pacific Division teams play 14 games, the Prairie Division 15 each.

Here is a look at the 11 men’s soccer schools as Week 1 approaches…

ALBERTA GOLDEN BEARS

2011 conference record: 7-3-4, 4th

2011 playoffs: 3-2 (CIS 4th)

Last CW title: 2011

Last CIS title: 2006

CIS ranking: #4

CW ranking: #3

Key additions: Eddy Sidra (D), Moe Teliani (M), Niko Saler (D), Brad Hughes (Goalkeeper), Niko Jankovic (M)

Key returnees: Marcus Johnstone (S), Cameron Schmidt (M), Osmo Bimba (D), Jay Vetsch (GK)

Key departures: Brett Colvin (M/S), Milan Timotijevic (M/S), Andrew Hood (S)

EDMONTON – With a veteran returning roster and a solid group of new recruits, the Alberta Golden Bears are in a good position to successfully defend their Canada West title.

After a 2011 campaign that saw the Bears finish fourth in the regular season, but a post-season that included the conference trophy and a fourth-place finish at the CIS national championship, Len Vickery’s squad should once again be among the best teams in Canada West.

The defending Canada West champions return seven starters and 14 players overall, including goalie Jay Vetsch, strikers Marcus Johnstone and Jonah Feil, midfielders Cameron Schmidt, and CJ Gilroy and defensive stalwarts Osmo Bimba and Christopher Roberts.

Johnstone, the CIS rookie of the year in 2010, led Alberta in goals last season, notching five, as well as eight points, and will be counted upon to lead the Golden Bears’ offence this season. Fifth-year midfielder Cam Schmidt, who had five assists and seven point last season, will be a key component to Alberta’s goal production as well.

Theywill need to overcome the loss of the team’s all-time leading goal scorer in Brett Colvin, who led the team in points last season, as well as offensive stars Milan Timotijevic and Andrew Hood. Combined, those players totaled 20 points for Alberta last season, including 12 goals.

Defensively, Bimba and Roberts will anchor the Golden Bears’ backline, playing in front of veteran goalie Jay Vetsch who finished the 2011 season with six wins and two shutouts.

Bolstering the Golden Bears’ line-up is the return of Eddy Sidra. The Sudan-born defender was the Golden Bears’ rookie of the year in 2006, and helped them win their last CIS title. Since then, the 5-10 fleet-footed defender has earned three caps playing for Canada, and spent a couple of years playing for Energie Cottbus in the German developmental league.

Newcomers Moe Teliani (midfield), Niko Saler (defence) and 6-4 midfielder Niko Jankovic will push the starting 11 as well, while ACAC goalie transfer Brad Hughes, who last played for Red Deer College, provides Alberta with a steady 1-2 punch between the pipes.

http://www.bears.ualberta.ca/

UBC THUNDERBIRDS

2011 conference record: 7-1-6, 2nd

2011 playoffs: 1-1 (CW silver)

Last CW title: 2010

Last CIS title: 2007

CIS ranking: #10t

CW ranking: #2

Key additions: Reynold Stewart (MF); Tyler Mertens (D)

Key returnees: Will Hyde (D); Brandon Bonifacio (MF), Navid Mashinchi (MF), Kent O’Connor (MF), Sean Haley (MF); Gagandeep Dosanjh (F)

Key departures: Jason Gill (D), Matt Allard (D);l Tyson Keam (MF)

VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds are looking to get back to the CIS championships after missing out by the slimmest of margins last season, losing in the Canada West championship game on an 89th minute goal.

Most of the offence returns to the lineup in 2012. UBC recorded a league-high 32 goals last year and players responsible for 29 of them are back. They include the team’s leading scorers from the last two seasons, Sean Haley (2011) and Gagandeep Dosanjh (2010), as well as Second Team All-Canadian midfielder Navid Mashinchi.

Other prominent players in the midfield will be Kent O’Connor and fifth-year senior Brandon Bonifacio. Transfer Reynold Stewart, a two-time Canadian College Player of the Year, is also a midfielder.

The Thunderbirds do suffer some big losses on defence as First Team All-Canadian Jason Gill has graduated, along with another defensive stalwart, Matt Allard.

UBC went undefeated in five non-conference games (two NCAA, two CIS and one NAIA), conceding just one goal in the process.

http://www.gothunderbirds.ca/

CALGARY DINOS

2011 conference record: 6-6-2, 5th

2011 playoffs: N/A

Last CW title: 1980

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS ranking: N/A

CW ranking: #6

Key addition: Brett Howard

Key returnees: Izak Lawrence, Jeff Marsden

Key departures: Devin Delany, Ben Cole, Dustin Ruddell

CALGARY – A revamp to the Canada West men’s soccer format has added to the anticipation building for the Calgary Dinos as they gear up for the 2012 season.

Head coach Brian McDonnell enters his third year with the Dinos, following a 6-6-2 campaign last year, and will be looking to get back in the playoffs after getting a taste of it in 2010. Overall, the club will be searching for more offensive production after ranking sixth in goals scored in the conference. In the back field, Calgary will hope for another solid year from the goaltending tandem of Jordan Unreimer and Colin Hasick.

Calgary had four fifth-year players who wrapped up this eligibility last year in defender Dustin Ruddell, midfielders Ben Cole and Devin Delany, and forward Jeremy Jenkyns. Born in Vancouver, B.C., Delany may be the most critical player to replace as the Dinos will now have to do without the leadership he brought as team captain.

Among the recruits that will take to West Varsity Soccer Pitch this month will be Brett Howard, a familiar name to Dinos’ followers. After being away from the team for a year, Howard returns to his hometown club where he was second in team scoring during the 2010 campaign. Reunited with fellow striker Lawrence, the duo should give Calgary back some of the offence which was missing last season.

 

http://www.godinos.com/

FRASER VALLEY CASCADES

2011 conference record: 1-11-2, 8th

2011 playoffs: N/A

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS ranking: N/A

CW ranking: #7

Key additions: Dalibor Plavsic (M), Connor MacMillan (M), Matthew Kidwell (GK)

Key returnees: MF Sasa Plavsic, F Craig Robinson, GK Mark Village

Key departures: none

ABBOTSFORD, BC – The UFV Cascades enter the 2012 regular season looking to crack the Canada West post- season for the first time in their seven years affiliated with the conference.

The team has had an excellent recruiting summer bringing in several new faces that will help UFV improve in the conference standings. Coach Alan Errington will be counting on veterans Sasa Plavsic, a fourth-year midfielder, who has led the Cascades in scoring the past two years with a total of 16 goals, and senior forward Craig Robinson, who will play his final CIS season in front of his hometown friends and family in the Cascades new home Exhibition Field. Coach Errington is also counting on veteran goalkeeper Mark Village to have a breakthrough year and lead the young defence which features the past two UFV Cascades “Male Rookie of the Year” award recipients, Colton O’Neill and Ravi Singh.

The Cascades welcome Dalibor Plavsic and Connor MacMillan to the offence to help Robinson and Sasa Plavsic improve on last year’s 20 goals scored. The two highly recruited rookie forwards look to help the offense become more explosive and give Coach Errington more options up front.

http://www.ufv.ca/athletics

LETHBRIDGE PRONGHORNS

2011 conference record: 1-11-2, 7th

2011 playoffs: N/A

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS ranking: N/A

CW ranking: #8

Key additions: Dominic Rigaux (midfield), Keon Kirlew (striker), Nathan Marks (midfield), Dominique Point Du Jour (midfield)

Key returnees: Lucas Rajcic (defender), Morgan Brownjohn (midfield), Matt Medoruma ( midfield), Conner Brady (defender)

Key departures: Colin Pattison (goalkeeper), Justin Lariviere (defender)

LETHBRIDGE, AB – The Lethbridge Pronghorns enter 2012 with a young, but talented roster. The Horns have 15 players returning from last season and have added 12 players to push the veterans for playing time.

After setting a Canada West single-season record with 94 saves last season, the graduation of goaltender Colin Pattison leaves some uncertainty in the ‘Horns crease. Pattison played all but 25 minutes last season and Tyler Boast is the only keeper on the roster with any Canada West experience.

Returning fifth-year midfielder Matt Medoruma and defenders Brett Silbernagel and Luc Rajcic are expected to provide quality leadership on and off the field. Morgan Brownjohn, Scott Slomp and Conner Brady all return and will add a good combination of speed, size and skill to the team.

Newcomers who will get a chance to showcase themselves in Canada West include Dominic Rigaux, Keon Kirlew, Nathan Marks, and Dominique Point Du Jour.

The ‘Horns open the season on the West Coast visiting TWU and UBC and will host the Calgary Dinos September 15th in the 2012 home opener.

http://www.uleth.ca/horns/

MOUNT ROYAL COUGARS

2011 conference record: 5-3-1, 2nd in South Division (ACAC)

2011 playoffs: 1-2

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS ranking: N/A

CW ranking: #9

Key additions: FB Greg Miller, ST Cody Cook, MF Bilal Ghanem

Key returnees: ST Sean Colvin, MF Caden Sawatzky, GK David Thalheimer

Key departures: Josh Buchanan, Kyle Gimenez, Jamie MacDonald

CALGARY – The Mount Royal Cougars enter CIS with an impressive winning tradition. With 13 provincial titles and three national championships, they leave Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference as its most winning program over the past 20 years.

Now onto Canada West for the Cougars and third-year head coach Jamie Pollock and his blend of 12 returning players and 12 newcomers.

The Cougars will count heavily once again on forward Sean Colvin, an ACAC all-star in 2011-12. Colvin potted a team-best six goals in 10 regular season contests. Mount Royal’s one-two offensive punch also again includes midfielder Caden Sawatzky, who record five goals last year in Pollack’s defensive-first system.

The Cougars’ front also features Josh Doiron and Tom Clancy while Graeme Thomson, Sean Burchill and John McDonald will lead the defensive group and Allan Miller is back in the middle for his fifth and final year.

In goal, the Cougars have David Thalheimer in uniform for his second year as starter. Thalheimer posted 1.16 goals against average in nine regular season contests in 2011-12.

The Cougars open CIS play with a home-and-home against the Alberta Golden Bears, visiting Edmonton Sept. 8 and returning home Sept. 9 for a 2 p.m. contest the next day.

http://www.mtroyal.ca/CampusServices/AthleticsRecreation/Athletics/index.htm

UNBC TIMBERWOLVES

2011 conference record: 6-2-4 (PacWest)

2011 playoffs: 0-2

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS ranking: N/A

CW ranking: #11

Key additions: M Sourosh Amani, M Tyson Hunter, D Logan Phenuff, D Brett Bobier, D Connor Noftle, GK Tyrone Venhola, GK Mitch McFarlane, GK Jonathon Richards

Key returnees: F Danny Dell, M Andrew Seabrook, M Alessandro Deviato

Key departures: GK Kyle Flannagan, D Scott DeBianchi

PRINCE GEORGE, BC – The UNBC Timberwolves are entering uncharted territory, adding 17 names to the 2011 roster, six of which have played in previous years, but are coming back for the Timberwolves’ inaugural Canada West season. Along with an updated roster comes an updated coaching staff. The Timberwolves will be led by head coach Alan Alderson.

Alderson comes to the Prince George from Calgary where he was involved as the Coaching Director for two separate soccer clubs. His credentials extended into the provincial level coaching as the head coach for Alberta’s U16 boys team. Alderson also brings a wealth of university experience, as the head coach of the Trinity Western men’s soccer program during Trinity’s very own transition from the college league to the CIS.

Rookie trio Tyson Hunter (Langley, BC), Connor Noftle (Chilliwack, BC) and Tyrone Venhola (Abbotsford, BC) all made the move up north to play for coach Alderson. The three spread themselves across the field starting with Venhola in net, Noftle in the backline and Hunter in the midfield. Hunter has been showing his skills while connecting with midfield transfer Sourosh Amani. Amani has made a name for himself by being involved in each of the Timberwolves preseason goals.

Out of the six returning players Danny Dell (Burns Lake, BC) is one to keep an eye on. The Timberwolves sole fifth year player, Dell was ranked in the PacWest’s top scores during the 2011 season. The team welcomes back midfielders Alessandro Deviato and Andrew Seabrook. Deviato returns to the Timberwolves after a leave during which his program took him away from Prince George. Seabrook will come back from retirement to help lead the green UNBC squad through their transition season.

The Timberwolves start their Canada West season with a double-header hosted by the University of Victoria on Sept. 7-8. Both games are set to kickoff at 7:15 pm.

http://www.unbc.ca/athletics/

SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES

2011 conference record: 5-7-2, 6th

2011 playoffs: N/A

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS ranking: N/A

CW ranking: #5

Key additions: Mitchell Bauche, Mathew Gillott, Carson MacDonald

Key returnees: Brett Levis, Dion Morgan, Mark Diakiw

Key departures: Jerson Barandica-Hamilton, Josh Northey, Eoin McFadden

SASKATOON – A brand new Saskatchewan Huskies men’s soccer team will step onto the field in 2012.

The Huskies enter 2012 with a young roster after the departures of CIS All-Canadians and Canada West MVPs Jerson Barandica-Hamilton and Josh Northey, as well as captain Eoin McFadden. Saskatchewan will look to youth to help make waves in the tough Canada West conference.

Saskatchewan had a disappointing year in 2011. After reaching the conference final in 2010, the Huskies finished with a 5-7-2 record in the 2011 season and found themselves on the outside of the post-season.

“It’s important to remember the impact our senior players left over the years but it is just as important that this year’s players step up and start to put their stamp on the UofS soccer program,” said Huskie head coach Bryce Chapman, who enters his ninth season at the helm. “I believe this year’s group is dynamic enough to start paving their own path in the Canada West and continue to bring the program further up the ladder.”

Returning to the team with experience will be 2011 Canada West All-Star and second-year striker Brett Levis, as well as fifth-year defender Dion Morgan and fifth-year keeper Mark Diakiw. Playing in just 10 games in his rookie season, Levis turned heads scoring four goals including two game winners. He will be looked to as the offensive spark for the Huskies. Morgan has been the leader of in the midfield for the Huskies, while Diakiw started 12 of the Huskies games in 2011 making 66 saves. Both Morgan and Diakiw played in the Canada West final in 2010.

Rookies Carson MacDonald, Mathew Gillott and Mitchell Bauche are expected to make an impact in their first season. Centre back MacDonald won three city soccer titles in Saskatoon, while Bauche won the high school provincial championship and is described as a dynamic midfielder. Gillott, who is a third generation Huskie, brings versatility. He can play as a left footed full back or in the midfield.

Saskatchewan opens the Canada West season in a home-and-home with the new University of Winnipeg Wesmen this weekend. The teams battle in Winnipeg on September 7, before returning to Saskatoon on Sept. 9.

http://huskies.usask.ca/

TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS

2011 conference record: 8-4-2, 3rd

2011 playoffs: 0-2 (4th CW)

Last CW title: 2007

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS ranking: N/A

CW ranking: #4

Key additions: Kalem Scott (D), Martin Awad Ibrahim (M)

Key returnees: Brayden Volkenant (D), Cody Strelau (D), Rhys Volkenant (D), Brayden Gant (M), Jordan Whitehead (M), Mitchell Rohla (M), Spencer Schmidt (F)

Key departures: Andrew Fink (G), James Farenhorst (D), Liam McAllister (D), Shawn Parkes (D), Gogo VItic (M)

LANGLEY, BC – With nine players graduating from last year’s team, this season’s Trinity Western Spartans will have a new look, a new vibe and a number of new faces in the starting lineup. But despite a variety of changes to the roster, coach Pat Rohla’s side was unbeaten in the preseason and looks like a team ready to challenge in Canada West.

Up front, the Spartans will rely on last year’s leading scorer Spencer Schmidt, along with emerging forward Jarvis Ambaka and Brazilian striker Andre Costa, who was second on the team in scoring in 2010 with five goals but missed all of last year due to injury.

In the middle of the park, Trinity Western will be led by the likes of Brayden Gant, Jordan Whitehead and Mitchell Rohla. With impressive showings in preseason, the trio will anchor what should be a strong midfield. The fourth spot in the midfield will likely see time split between a number of players including, amongst others, veteran Jason Wiens and first-year players Cameron Parkes, who is the brother of former Spartan Shawn Parkes, and Martin Awad Ibrahim, who comes to the Spartans after playing in Egypt.

On the defensive end, the Volkenant brothers, Brayden and Rhys, and Cody Strelau will be expected to play pivotal roles this year for the Spartans. Also, look for first-year centre-back Kalem Scott to make an immediate impact.

With both goalkeepers Andrew Fink and Andrew Kowan graduating, the Spartans will be relying on second-year Evan Lowther and newcomer Andrew Hicks to shoulder the load between the woodwork.

http://www.twu.ca/athletics/

VICTORIA VIKES

2011 conference record: 10-2-2, 1st

2011 playoffs: 4-1 (CW bronze, CIS champions)

Last CW title: 2009

Last CIS title: 2011

CIS ranking: #1

CW ranking: #1

Key additions: M Gareth Langdon, M Sam Pretty, M Adam Ravenhill, M Cam Stokes

Key returnees: D Gavin Barrett, M Lucas Barrett, D Toshi Hayashi, D Wes Barrett, F Jordie Oberg, M David Adams, F Craig Taylor, M Thomas Mallette, M. Cam Hundal, M Craig Gorman, GK Elliot Mitrou

Key departures: D Colin Wilson, D Joel Gomez, F Peter Richmond, M Miguel Romeo, M Kyle Kostis, M Corey Sanford, D James Rhodes, GK Daniel Kilpatrick

VICTORIA – Two-time CIS Coach of the Year Bruce Wilson is entering into his 25th year as head coach of the University of Victoria Vikes men’s soccer team. Wilson enters this milestone year coming off a memorable 2011 season where the Vikes posted a 10-2-2 Canada West record and went 3-0 on home soil to win UVic’s fifth Sam Davidson Memorial trophy.

Throughout the 2011 regular season, the depth of the Vikes side validated their own seed at the Victoria-hosted national tournament. The Vikes men entered the Canada West Final Four after going undefeated for 12 consecutive matches.

Wilson was named the 2011 Canada West Coach of the Year for the ninth season and has been at the helm of three of the five men’s soccer championship-winning teams. This year, if the Vikes qualify, they will compete at the national championship without a home crowd as the tournament moves to Laval, Que.

Among the key returnees for the year are second year midfielders Cam Hundal (Terrace, B.C.) and Craig Gorman (Victoria, B.C.). The 2011 rookie-duo made caught lots of eyes last season with Hundal picking up Canada West Rookie of the Year honours and being named the 2011 CIS Tournament MVP. Gorman was third in points in the Canada West and was named a Canada West First Team All-Star.

Defensively, the Vikes are be backed by fifth year David Adams (Surrey, B.C.), who will also captain the team. Defender Gavin Barrett (Richmond, B.C.) will be another key player in the defensive lineup along with the return of defender Bobby Eng (Richmond, B.C.), who missed out on last year’s Championship after suffering a broken leg in a late regular season game. Fourth year netminder Elliot Mitrou will be back for another year after last season’s 0.897 save percentage and leading the Canada West 0.67 goals against average.

The Vikes lost eight members of last year’s title-winning team. Amongst them were veteran goalkeeper Daniel Kilpatrick (Victoria, B.C.), team co-captain Miguel Romeo (Buenos Aires, Arg.) and defender Joel Gomez (Surrey, B.C.).

Not to be rattled, the Vikes will boast strong freshman talent in local midfielders Garreth Langdon (Victoria, B.C.), Sam Pretty (Victoria, B.C.), and Adam Ravenhill (Victoria, B.C.), as well as Langara College transfer Cam Stokes (Richmond, B.C.).

The Vikes kick off their Canada West season with a double-header at Centennial Stadium, against the University of Northern British Columbia on Sept. 7-8. Both games will take place at 7:15 p.m. PST and will be broadcast live at http://uvic.canadawest.tv.

http://www.govikesgo.com/

WINNIPEG WESMEN

2011 conference record: First year in Canada West

2011 playoffs: N/A

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS ranking: N/A

CW ranking: #10

Key additions: Krzysztof Szulc (M), Jordan Smith (D), Ryan Greencorn (D/M)

Key returnees: Adam Bromley (M), Kenny Sacramento (F), Tyson Farago (GK)

WINNIPEG – A new era has begun on the campus of the University of Winnipeg, with the addition of CIS soccer to the ever growing list of varsity teams.

The Wesmen enter 2012 fresh off of winning back-to-back Manitoba Colleges Athletics Conference championships. Last year, the squad finished with a perfect 10-0 record during the regular season and post season.

Head coach Pedro Daza will field a squad with tons of experience and ready for the challenge this season. Co-captains Adam Bromley and Kenny Sacramento will both be leaders on the field and their experience will be beneficial to the Wesmen success.

Bromley was named the MCAC Most Valuable Player while Sacramento was named to the MCAC Conference All-Star Team and was selected as the playoff MVP.

Goalkeeper Tyson Farago and defender Gaetan Infantino will be asked to provide strong defensive play to keep the opposition’s chances to a minimum. Midfielder Scott Ansell, a member of the back-to-back championship teams and forward Richard Rundle will play key minutes for the team this season.

 

http://www.wesmen.ca/

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