The SAIT Trojans men’s soccer team kicked off its 2014 season with a bold statement, outscoring its first two opponents 11-0.
The Trojans season opener featured an 8-0 pounding dished out to the Olds College Broncos in Alberta Colleges Athletic Association (ACAC) action.
In week two, the Trojans kept it rolling, with a 3-0 triumph over the Lethbridge College Kodiaks.
The results of the first two games were a direct message to the rest of the league: This is not the same team as last year.
In the 2013-2014 season, the club had a mediocre record of five wins and five losses and failed to clinch a playoff spot.
When asked what it’s going to take in order for the team to improve this year, the Trojans head coach Grant Stevens responded with one simple word: “Win.”
“Just win. If you have the winning philosophy, you are going to win. If you doubt yourself, regardless of how good you are, you are never going to win,” Stevens said in an interview.
The Trojans are loaded with strikers, and they seized the spotlight in their first two games, scoring a commanding 11 goals.
“Our strength is our forwards,” said SAIT goalkeeper Jordan Phillips.
“We’ve got a lot of attacking talent this year. We’ve brought in a lot of strikers and its proven well so far.”
Despite all the hype surrounding the team’s scoring punch, coach Stevens had praise for the Trojans rookie netminders, Phillips and Paul Claassen.
“We’ve got a solid goalkeeping duo,” said Stevens.
“Last year we struggled with goalkeepers and I think the results from last year reflect that.”
Goaltender Jordan Phillips currently sports an unblemished 2-0 record, with zero goals against. The Trojans stable defenders have given Phillips the luxury of not seeing many shots against in their first two matches.
“The fewer shots I have, the easier it is to do my job and it means that the defenders are playing strong,” said Phillips, “I’d rather be bored than busy, because it means we’re doing well.”
Don’t blink, because the Trojans have a quick 10-game season. Most of the players are also unfamiliar with each other, since nearly half of SAIT’s roster consists of freshman.
“We are all from different backgrounds and from different teams,” said Phillips.
“By the end of the season, if we play like we’ve been playing together for years, then its mission accomplished.”
“We have veterans coming through,” said Stevens.
“There’s this kind of atmosphere they bring into the locker room which is exceptional and the rookies just love it.”
Nico Aravena, a SAIT forward, dominated in the season opener, registering three goals. This was triple his total goals last season.
“I think if I can just work hard and take the chances when I get them, I’ll have some success this year,” said Aravena.
“We have a lot of talented players and I think even the players that are not on the starting 11 are very skillful.”
Aravena believes that the unfamiliarity within the group hasn’t affected the team in the early stages of the season.
“We have a lot of chemistry. You can see it on the field. We understand each other and it’s nice to watch.”
Stevens recognizes the importance of keeping the ball out of his team’s zone and applying the pressure on the opposing squad.
“The ball needs to get to the strikers, and our midfielders and defenders are doing just that. There’s a kind of relay between all the different sections of the field.”
By the end of the season, if we play like we’ve been playing together for years, then its mission accomplished. – Jordan Phillips
This story was written on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014. The Trojans lost 3-2 on Sept. 14, against the Medicine Hat Rattlers.
The Trojans have seven games remaining in the season, on their 2014/2015 schedule.