LANGLEY, British Columbia – Coming off a Canada West bronze-medal winning season, the Trinity Western University men’s soccer team has its sights set on building upon a successful first year with under coach Mike Shearon. With a developing nucleus – one that now features a strong group of veteran talent – the Spartans appear primed to take another step forward as they aim to make a return to the national dance for the first time since 2009.
The Spartans open their Canada West season Friday and Saturday on the road, with a pair of critical early-season contests against Victoria (Friday, 7:15 p.m.) and UBC (Saturday, 6:30 p.m.).
COACH MIKE SHEARON:
“We accomplished something last year and we’re looking to continue on with pushing the program forward. We have a lot of guys who are upperclassmen now and it’s time that we start to realize the potential of this group. That’s what we’re hoping to accomplish this year.”
With the graduation of Andrew Hicks (Langley), the Spartans will turn a new page on their goaltending position this year. A three-pronged competition for the starting role has ensued, with third-year James Hielema (Calgary), second-year Jordan Kasian (Calgary) and first-year Sebastian Colyn (Langley) all battling to be the Spartans go-to netminder.
The backline will be anchored by a few familiar faces, with Caleb Johnson (Calgary), Vaggeli Boucas (Langley) and Austin Kasian (Calgary) returning as the likely starters. With the graduation of Connor Noftle (Chilliwack, B.C.) and Taylor Johnson (Calgary), the Spartans will look to second-year centre back Scott Poffenroth (Calgary) to take on significant minutes, while fourth-year transfer Josh Hardy (Burnaby, B.C.), who comes to TWU via Langara College, should slot into a regular role as early as the opening weekend.
With an impressive 2016 season guiding the Spartans midfield, fourth-year Joel Waterman (Aldergrove, B.C.) will quarterback TWU’s attack while continuing to push the pace as a box-to-box threat. Beyond Waterman, fifth-year Elie Gindo (Langley) will once again be a steadying force in the midfield, along with the likes of Dominic Poletto (Calgary), Sebastian Wingfield (DuPont, Wash.), Jacob Low (Port Moody, B.C.) and the speedy Aidan Moore (Langley, B.C.).
Up front, the Spartans will rely upon the fourth-year duo of Vito Poletto (Calgary) and Leighton Johnson (Calgary). With both players entering their senior years, the Spartans have a dynamic pair who have the potential to be very regular offensive contributors.
BY THE NUMBERS
2016 CW regular season record: 9-5-2, 2nd in Pacific Division
2016 post-season record (CW and U SPORTS combined): 2-1, 3rd in CW
Last Canada West championship / total CW championships: 2007 / 3
2016 CW regular season ranks:
Offence: 22 goals, 9th
Defence: 21 goals against, 8th
Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):
Josh Hardy / D / 4th / Burnaby, B.C. / Langara College
Sebastian Colyn / GK / 1st / Langley, B.C. / Langley Christian
Gordon Grice / M / 1st / Burnaby, B.C. / Burnaby North