Men’s soccer preview: UBC defends title with new-look roster

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September 5, 2013, EDMONTON – The 2013 Canada West season opened with one game last weekend, while a complete schedule of contests take place September 6-8. With the top three in each division qualifying for playoffs, here is a look at the 11 men’s soccer schools as the 14-game schedule continues this weekend…

ALBERTA GOLDEN BEARS

2012 conference record: 9-2-4 (1st, Prairie Division)

2012 playoffs: 1-3 (CW 2nd)

Last CW title: 2003

Last CIS title: 2006

CIS ranking: #3

CW ranking: #2

Key additions: Tim Hickson (M), Tolu Esan (D), Ajay Khabra (M), Matthew van der Eyden (D)

Key returnees: Marcus Johnstone (S), Niko Saler (D), Osmo Bimba, Jay Vetsch (GK)

Key departures: Cam Schmidt (M), Zenon Markevych (M) and Jonah Feil (S)

EDMONTON- One season after claiming the Canada West silver medal, the University of Alberta Golden Bears should be in the hunt, once again, for the conference title. The Bears went 9-2-4 last season and hosted the Canada West championship tournament where they were sunk, 2-1 in overtime, by the eventual CIS champion UBC Thunderbirds.

With a number of key returning starters, as well as an impressive recruiting class and just a few departures, Len Vickery’s squad will be a strong contender within Canada West and at the national level. Rranked as the second best team in Canada West by the conference coaches, and the third best team nationally; the Golden Bears look to be solid in all facets of the game.

Coming back to the squad are two CIS first team all-Canadians in fifth-year goalie Jay Vetsch and fourth-year striker Marcus Johnstone, while Canada West all-stars returning to the Bears are defenders Scott Gilroy and Niko Saler, who was also the CIS rookie of the year award last season. Johnstone and Saler also represented Canada this past summer at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Russia. Other key returning players include defenders Osmo Bimba, David Agyeman and former national team player Eddy Sidra. The midfield returns Theo Chu, Moe Teliani, and CJ Gilroy, while joining Johnstone up front is Jermele Campbell, Glynndon Dobson and Kevin Perry.

Joining the program, which has been led by Vickery since 1985, are an impressive group of recruits that consist of players from professional reserve teams or on the cusp of national team commitments. Defender Tolu Esan, who hails from Calgary, has been invited to try-out for Canada’s U-17 team, and should he make the squad he would leaving for Dubai in October to play in the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Tim Hickson (midfield) and Matthew van der Eyden (defence) both have experience with the Vancouver Whitecaps organization, while midfielder Ajay Khabra joins the Evergreen and Gold from the FC Edmonton organization.

Alberta opens the season at the UNBC Timberwolves.

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

UBC THUNDERBIRDS

2012 conference record: 11-0-3 (1st, Pacific)

2012 playoffs: 5-0 (CW & CIS champion)

Last CW title: 2012

Last CIS title: 2012

CIS ranking: #1

CW ranking: #1

Key additions: Niall Cousens (F); Josh Odukomaya (M); Luigi Polisi (M); Mitchell Popadynetz (D)

Key returnees: Will Hyde (D); Paul Clerc (D); Reynold Stewart (M); Greg Smith (M); Navid Mashinchi (M); Luke O’Shea (G); Richard Meister (G)

Key departures: Gagan Dosanjh (F); Brandon Bonifacio (M); Marco Visintin (M); Steve Johnson (D); Devin Gunenc (D)

VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds will defend their 2012 CIS men’s soccer championship without many of the leading players from the squad that went undefeated last season.

Canada West Male Athlete of the Year, CIS tournament MVP and BLG Awards nominee Gagan Dosanjh moved on to F.C. Edmonton. The Thunderbirds have replaced the 5-foot-5 Dosanjh with a 6-foot-4 striker named Niall Cousens, who played professionally in the Czech Republic before returning home to play for the Vancouver Whitecaps Under-23 team this summer.

The three captains from last year, midfielders Brandon Bonifacio and Marco Visintin, along with defender Devin Gunenc, have all graduated, while defender Steve Johnson, who scored the winning goal in the CIS final against Cape Breton, is also gone.

Still, the T-Birds enter the 2013 season as the top-ranked team in the country. 

Both Luke O’Shea and Richard Meister give UBC solid options in net, while the defence is anchored by veterans Will Hyde and Paul Clerc, both Canada West all-stars. Second-year defenders Tyler Mertens and Bryan Fong continue to be solid contributors.

The Thunderbirds have the most depth in the midfield, which boasts players like Navid Mashinchi, Reynold Stewart, Greg Smith, Kent O’Connor and Milad Mehrabi. Mashinchi was a First Team Canada West All-Star last season.

http://www.gothunderbirds.ca/

CALGARY DINOS

2012 conference record: 6-6-3 (3rd, Prairie)

2012 playoffs: 0-1

Last CW title: 1980

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS Ranking: N/A

CW Ranking: #6

Key returnees: D Dominick Zator, F Izak Lawrence

Key additions: F Jaron Broom, F Andrew Stevenson

CALGARY – After a heart-breaking loss at the Canada West Final Six last season, the University of Calgary is back for another year and ready to find a spot back in the playoffs again.

Head coach Brian McDonnell returns for a fourth season at the helm.

The Dinos are deep in both the midfield and striker positions, expecting to be a threat each and every game. In the back field, there will be plenty opportunity for players to grab a spot at the full-back position as several players can fill the role.

At centre back, Dominick Zator will be a key component in the backfield for the Dinos as he is expected to take up a leadership role in just his second year at the University of Calgary. The Haskayne School of Business major will be relied on heavily to be the backbone of the Dinos defensive core.

Fifth-year Izak Lawrence will also be a major returnee as he comes off an All-Star season and is hungry to finish up his CIS career on a strong note. His skills up front for the Dinos will provide attacking threats.

Transfer Jaron Broom will look to make an impact with the Dinos program. Coming in after an impressive ACAC career with the SAIT Trojans, Broom will provide creativity and goal scoring threats that the Dinos have been lacking in years past. Not only was he an ACAC MVP in 2012, but also a champion during his time with SAIT.

Another recruit that has impressed the coaching staff during training camp has been Andrew Stevenson of Kelowna. As another big striker, he will push Lawrence for minutes on the pitch and is a clinical finisher in front of the goal.

The Calgary Dinos open their season with a home-and-away series with the Lethbridge Pronghorns, Sept. 7-8.

http://www.godinos.com/

FRASER VALLEY CASCADES

2012 conference record: 5-5-4 (4th, Pacific, missed playoffs)

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS Ranking: N/A

CW Ranking: #7

Key additions: Daniel Davidson (Striker), Dylan Jordan (Defence), Zach Hansen (Defence)

Key departures: Craig Robinson (Striker), Sasa Plavsic (Midfield), Brian Davis (Defence)

ABBOTSFORD, BC – The Fraser Valley Cascades are coming off their most successful Canada West regular season finishing 5-5-4 for 19 points, one point short of earning a post-season berth. As the Cascades prepare for their eighth regular season in the CIS, head coach Alan Errington looks to the largest returning group of student-athletes, in his nine years at the helm of the soccer team for leadership.

Led by Canada West second team All-Star, Mark Village, Abbotsford, BC who posted 4 wins, recorded 57 saves, 4 shutouts and 1.25 goals against average. The offence will have a new look with graduation of veteran forwards Craig Robinson and Sasa Plavsic, Coach Errington will look to Dalibor Plavsic, Justin Sekhon and James Najman to provide the scoring.

The Cascades are in good hands on defense led by veterans Colton O’Neill, Abbotsford, BC and Ravi Singh, Abbotsford. O’Neill, Sekhon and Singh have all won the school’s male rookie of the year award, giving Coach Errington a very talented nucleus to try to earn the program’s first conference post season spot.

The Cascades open the season against rival Trinity Western on Friday, Sept. 6 at Exhibition Field, in Chilliwack, B.C.

http://www.ufv.ca/athletics

LETHBRIDGE PRONGHORNS

2012 conference record: 4-5-6 (4th, Prairie, missed playoffs)

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

Key additions: Curtis Contenti (D), Odilichukwu Ohuegbe (M), Allan Siwella (M),

Key returnees: Tyler Boast (GK), Scott Slomp (D), Dom Point du Jour (M), Morgan Brownjohn (M)

Key departures: Matt Medoruma (M), Lucas Rajcic (D)

LETHBRIDGE, AB – After competing for a post-season spot into the final weekend of the season and earning the best point total in program history, the University of Lethbridge enters 2013  with a new sense of purpose.

The four wins in 2012 also tied the school record but a loss in the second-to-last conference game of the season ended the ‘Horns post season aspirations and left the team with a feeling of unfinished business.

The Pronghorns will have a veteran team, with 15 players returning from last season’s squad, and depth at all positions. After leading Canada West in shutouts last season with six, Tyler Boast will lead the ‘Horns from the backline out, but with the loss of workhorse defender Lucas Rajcic and Brett Silbernagel on the backline, Scott Slomp will be charge of leading a young but talented group of defenders.

Despite the graduation of Canada FISU team member Matt Medoruma, the ‘Horns strength will arguably be in the middle of the field with Dom Point du Jour, Morgan Brownjohn and Gui Costa all returning.  Point du Jour and Brownjohn tied for the team lead in goals with three and Brownjohn finished tied for 10th in Canada West point total with eight. The addition of Odilichukwu Ohuegbe will add to the ‘Horns talent at midfield.

Goal-scoring remains a concern with the ’Horns after only scoring 13 goals last season but if the team can score by committee again this season, a couple of timely goals will be the difference between the ‘Horns just missing the post-season or taking the next step forward.

The campaign kicks off with an important home-and-home series with the rival Calgary Dinos, beginning in Calgary with the return affair serving as the home-opener Sept. 8.

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

MOUNT ROYAL COUGARS

2012 conference record: 4-10-1 (5th, Prairie, missed playoffs)

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS Ranking: N/A

CW Ranking: #9

Key additions: S Mateo Valdes, M Thiago Silva, M Brad Crewe, MF Jeff Blake, D Tyrin Hutchings

Key departures: M Mohammed Hasoon, D Greg Miller, M Josh Doiron

CALGARY – After some growing pains during their first season in Canada West, the Mount Royal Cougars are looking to take the next step this season as they enter their second year. The goal this season is to make the play-offs, as they finished only a few wins shy of a berth in the first round last year.

In order for their play-off aspirations to come true the Cougars will have to score more than the nine goals they netted last season. To bolster their offence the Cougars went out this off-season and landed some highly touted offensive recruits. Striker Mateo Valdes and midfielders Brad Crewe and Thiago Silva will be counted on to spark the struggling offence. Shoring up the back end will be new Centre Fullback Tyrin Hutchings.

Canada West remains one of the toughest conferences in the nation, boasting last season’s national champions from UBC. If the Cougars are to reach their play-off goal this season they must start competing and taking points from the higher echelon teams within their own division and the entire conference.

Mount Royal will open its season on the road against Winnipeg on Sept. 6.

http://www.mrucougars.com/index.aspx

UNBC TIMBERWOLVES

2012 conference record: 1-13 (5th, Pacific, missed playoffs)

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS Ranking: N/A

CW Ranking: #13

Key additions: F Tofa Fakunle, M Jake Vickers, D Liam MacPhail, M Amedee Cimana

Key returnees: M Tyson Hunter, D Logan Phenuff, D Brett Bobier, D Connor Noftle, GK Tyrone Venhola, GK Mitch McFarlane

Key departures: F Danny Dell, M Sourosh Amani

PRINCE GEORGE, BC – The UNBC Timberwolves will take to the field in their second year after a difficult first, having added numerous new faces to the roster with the goal of improving on last season’s 1-13 record.

The Timberwolves have an interesting mix of additions to their roster. Second year head coach Alan Alderson has added two rookies, along with some local flair to help boost the team’s performance. Tofa Fakunle and Jake Vickers both were selected to represent Alberta at the 2013 Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, QC in August; Fakunle travelled with the team but Vickers was unable to attend due to prior commitments. Both Fakunle and Vickers play either striker or attacking midfield. The duo brings speed and scoring ability to the Timberwolves attacking line. In addition to the two new Albertans, Alderson is welcoming back two former UNBC players who will be returning to the squad after a year off, Liam MacPhail and Amedee Cimana. MacPhail will fill out the backline, working alongside returning player Logan Phenuff, while Cimana has made a seamless transition back into the midfield.

The Timberwolves only graduated one player from their 2012 roster, Danny Dell, who contributed incredible work ethic and leadership skills to UNBC for five years. The Timberwolves will also be missing attacking weapon Sourosh Amani, who pulled out halfway through the 2012 season due to injury. Amani will not be returning to the Timberwolves squad for the 2013 season.

The Timberwolves start their Canada West hosting Saskatchewan on Sept. 6 and Alberta on Sept. 8. All Timberwolves games can be viewed at unbc.canadawest.TV.

http://www.unbc.ca/timberwolves

SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES

2012 conference record: 6-5-4 (2nd, Prairie)

2012 playoffs: 2-1 (CW 3rd)

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS Ranking: N/A

CW Ranking: #5

Key returnees: Brett Levis, Carson McDonald, Mitch Bauche, Brandon Holmes, Eoin McFadden, Jordian Farahani

Key additions: Garrett Peters, Gabe Michaels, Greg Buckley, Kyle Moore

Key departures: Mark Diakiw, Dion Morgan, Nick Clark

SASKATOON – For the second time in three seasons, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies finished among the top three in the Canada West conference in 2012. Now they want nothing more than to return to the conference’s Final Six tournament and bring home their first-ever Canada West banner.

Returning to the team will be 2012 CIS Second Team All-Canadian Brett Levis. Levis, who just returned to the Huskies after a 10-day tryout with the Vancouver Whitecaps of the MLS, finished second in the conference-scoring race with nine goals and six assists. He had an all-star season with the Victoria Highlanders in the PDL during the summer months.

Also joining Levis back in the Huskies’ starting 11 is 2009 Canada West all-star midfielder Eoin McFadden, 2010 Canada West all-star defender Jordian Farahani, 2013 captain Brandon Holmes, second-year defenders Carson MacDonald and Mathew Gilliot and second-year midfielder Mitch Bauche. MacDonald, Gilliot and Bauche each missed starting in just one match in their rookie season.

The biggest change for the Huskies will be in net. With the departure of fifth-year keeper Mark Diakiw, third-year Engineering student Michal Bandula will assume starting role. Bandula has recorded 19 saves and allowing just three goals in three matches in his CIS career.

Saskatchewan opened the season with a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Wesmen on Saturday, Aug. 31. Levis scored two goals for the come from behind win and was named Canada West 1st Star of the Week.

http://huskies.usask.ca/

TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS

2012 conference record: 9-1-4 (2nd, Pacific)

2012 playoffs: 1-2 (CW 4th)

Last CW title: 2007

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS Ranking: N/A

CW Ranking: #4

Key additions: F Dominic Reinold, D Jonah Reinhart, D Matt Kasteel, M Elie Gindo

Key departures: F Spencer Schmidt, D Brayden Volkenant, D Cody Strelau, M Jason Wiens

LANGLEY, BC – For a Spartans team that was once a perennial national title contender – one that qualified for the CIS tournament five straight years, 2006-10 – it’s now been three years since the Langley school advanced to the championship event. This year, the TWU men’s soccer team plans to rectify that.

After an impressive 2012 regular season in which TWU lost just one game, an injury-laden Spartans side came up short at the conference championship, finishing fourth after losing in both the semfinal and bronze medal games.

However, with momentum on their side following last year’s impressive regular season campaign, TWU enters the 2013 season with plenty of optimism.

Up front, the Spartans lost a pair of big men in forwards Spencer Schmidt and Andre Costa, but over the summer, coach Pat Rohla more than filled the gap with the signing of German-born striker Dominic Reinold. The 6-foot-3 Reinold, who Rohla has described as a “program changer” will join the speedy Jarvis Ambaka, who was 2012 conference all-star up, up front to create a Thunder and Lightning combo that will no doubt provide fits for the opposition.

In the midfield, Canada West First Team All-Star and CIS Second Team All-Canadian Brayden Gant will once again be the team’s ever-steady engine. The now third-year captain will be joined by fellow returning starter Mitchell Rohla to form the team’s core in the middle of the park. Returnees Carlos del Aquila and Sam Delfts along with first-year Elie Gindo will compete for starters minutes alongside Gant and Rohla.

With the loss of Brayden Volkenant on the back line, the Spartans will move forward with a rather young defensive unit. Besides fifth-year centre back Rhys Volkenant, the Spartans back four will be entirely made up of first, second or third-year players. Returning starters Taylor Johnson and Kalem Scott will slot into their already established positions while first-year Jonah Reinhart will also likely see starting minutes. Beyond that, it’ll be third-year Andrew Dobbie and first-year Matt Kasteel fighting for playing time.

In goal, fourth-year Evan Lowther and second-year Andrew Hicks will compete for starting duties. Lowther started 10 of the Spartans 14 regular season games last year and the first two post-season contests. Hicks played in four regular season games and TWU’s Canada West bronze medal match.

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

VICTORIA VIKES

2012 conference record: 6-6-2 (3rd, Pacific)

2012 playoffs: 0-1

Last CW title: 2009

Last CIS title: 2011

CIS preseason ranking: N/A

CW ranking: #3

Key returnees: GK Elliot Mitrou, D Andrew Ravenhill, D Bobby Eng, F Gavin Barrett, M Cam Hundal, M Craig Gorman, M Craig Taylor, M Kurt Macaulay

Key additions: M Scot Jones, D Derek Brown

Key departures: M Wesley Barrett, D David Adams, M Nicholas Mavrikos, F Thomas Mallette

VICTORIA – University of Victoria Vikes head coach Bruce Wilson enters his 26th season at the helm of the men’s soccer program and will be on the hunt for his sixth Sam Davidson Memorial Trophy. Highlighting the Vikes roster will be 13 players who were a part of the 2011 CIS championship-winning team.

With the graduation of veterans Wesley Barrett and David Adams, the Vikes will be looking to their four fifth-year starters including goalkeeper Elliot Mitrou and defenders Andrew Ravenhill and Bobby Eng, as well as newly-converted forward Gavin Barrett. Ravenhill and Barrett were the lone Vikes to make the Canada West All-Star list last season, while Mitrou backstopped the Vikes in their 2011 CIS win going first in goals against average in the Canada West (0.67).

Looking down the line, the Vikes men will boast a deep roster of third and fourth year players including the midfield tandem of Craig Taylor, Craig Gorman and Cam Hundal. Gorman and Hundal were pivotal rookies in the 2011-12 season, combining for the majority of the Vikes goals. Hundal was also named the 2011 Canada West and UVic Rookie of the Year.

New additions for the Vikes include five-foot-eleven defender Derek Brown who has already made a good appearance for the Vikes in the pre-season. Brown, a produce of the Under-21 Gorge FC program in Victoria, will likely earn valuable minutes on the pitch as his height and speed have proven valuable assets. In addition, Wilson is looking to the youth of Sam Prette, Dominic Colantonio and Paul Dait to add to the dynamics of the squad.

Also making a return to the Vikes is assistant coach Ian Bridge, a long-time team Canada player and coach and former Vikes women’s soccer head coach. Bridge will patrol the sidelines with his former team Canada teammate Wilson for the 2013 season.

http://www.govikesgo.com/

WINNIPEG WESMEN

2012 conference record: 2-10-3 (6th, Prairie, missed playoffs)

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS Ranking: N/A

CW Ranking: #10

Key returnees: Adam Bromley (M), Kenny Sacramento (F), Tyson Farago (G), Gaetan Infantino (D), Ross Pinhammer (F), Scott Ansell (M)

Key additions: Enrique Garcea (D), Perez Fries (F), Amos Ganyea (F)

WINNIPEG – The Wesmen Men’s Soccer team will enter the 2013 Canada West Season with a year of CIS level soccer experience under their belt. The Wesmen participated in Canada West Soccer for the first time in 2012 and compiled a record of 2-10-3.

This season head coach Pedro Daza will field a squad with tons of experience and a good crop of recruits who are ready to showcase their skills. Goalkeeper Tyson Farago returns after an impressive first year in the Canada West Conference. Farago recorded three shutouts last year and led the conference with 94 saves.

Up front the Wesmen will be led by Ross Pinhammer, Scott Ansell, Adam Bromley and Kenny Sacramento. Pinhammer was second on the team with four goals last year while Ansell added three and Bromley adding a pair. Sacramento suffered an early season injury but will be looking to bounce back in 2013. Defender Gaetan Infantino returns to the back end and will provide both leadership and experience. Amos Ganyea who was forced to sit out last season due to an injury returns to add some depth to the team’s roster.

A pair of recruits Enrique Garcea and Perez Fries joins the team with impressive resumes and will look to make an impact in their first season with the Wesmen.

http://www.wesmen.ca/

Canada West Annual Publication: www.azbycx1928.com/cw78hjfdbje/

David Bandla, Communications

Canada West Universities Athletic Association

780-266-9378 (WEST)

canadawest.org / http://www.canadawest.tv/“>canadawest.tv

@cwuaa on Twitter

About Canada West Universities Athletic Association

Canada West is consistently the most decorated of the four conferences in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, winning 100 CIS national over the last 10 seasons. Comprised of 17 schools from the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, Canada West produces numerous major award winners and Academic All-Canadian student-athletes each year, with many going on to athletic success around the globe in pro leagues or events such as the Olympics, Paralympics or Universiade Games. www.canadawest.org / canadawest.tv / @cwuaa on Twitter

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