Saskatoon – Buoyed by a roster that returns nearly every contributor from a squad that finished second in the Prairie Division of Canada West soccer last season, the 2018 edition of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s soccer team appears poised to build, and improve upon, past success.

“The young guys from last year want to evolve with the team, take on leadership roles and the big thing for our group is having a number of different leaders,” said Huskie head coach Bryce Chapman. “It takes a number of different players to bring a group like this together.”

Entering his 15th season at the helm of the program, Chapman will have the benefit of utilizing a roster that features the top-five point scorers from last season in Gabriel Buatois (6 points), Kwame Opoku-Addai (6), Marcello Gonzalez (5), Tyler Redl (5) and Bryce Marinus (3).

“We have a lot of talent, right now it is about finding a way to use that talent but also play within a system that we want,” said Chapman. “The things that we can control are our work ethic and being difficult to play against. We can play well with the ball but we also have to be defensively responsible.”

Defensively the Huskies will be led into battle once again by team captain Jacob Powell. The centre back from Coquitlam, B.C. was ever-present last year and provided a steadying presence for what was a young squad. Now in his fourth-year with the team, Powell has twice been honoured at the Canada West level, being named a second team all-star in 2016-17 and a first team all-star last season.

A number of new faces to the squad will also look to make an impact in their first season of Canada West action.

Tobi Ojo, Jordan Fiske, Davidson Fadare and Joshua Fichter have all suited up for Team Saskatchewan throughout their minor soccer careers, while Christian Scerbo, Nikolas Baikas and Dorion Zambuchini also enter the program with strong pedigrees.

“We are excited about this group of student athletes not just for this year but the years to come,” said Chapman. “They all bring different pieces that will contribute to our program, university and community.”

The Huskies are set to begin their season with a trip to Calgary, Alta. where they will face the Calgary Dinos on Aug. 25 at 2 p.m. and the Mount Royal Cougars on Aug. 26 at 1:30 p.m.