Trojans men’s soccer team seeking national glory

After coming up short in overtime of the Alberta College’s Athletic Conference (ACAC) gold medal game, the SAIT Trojans men’s soccer team remain positive in their preparation for nationals.

“The season (8-2) has been exceptional,” said head coach Grant Stevens in an interview prior to the start of the national tournament.

“The boys have now learned that if they play to my instructions, they’re going to win.”

Stevens said, other than the two losses during the season, the team played to its full capability.

“If we can apply those same principles, same sentiment, and same attitude to nationals, I think we’ll do well.”

Stevens said a big factor in how the Trojans fair at nationals is how they handle the spotlight.

“Stage fright might be present in a few of them that have never been there,” said Stevens.

Stevens said he needs to find out which rookies he can slot into the lineup that will be comfortable on the big stage.

“You make one mistake at this level, and it’s going to cost you.

“Attitude has to be top class, with no mistakes.”

Although “there’s nothing better than winning,” Stevens said it’s the experience of playing for the biggest prize that he wants his players to take in.

“All I want is for them to go out there and have an exceptional experience.

“Win, lose, draw, that doesn’t matter to me.”

Trojans first-year forward and leading goal scorer William Akio said in order to succeed at nationals, they need to come together as a team.

“When we play as a team, we’re unstoppable,” said Akio.

“We’ve had games where we had more individual skills, and it kind of let us down, but when we play as a team, no one can stop us.”

Akio also said he needs to find his goal-scoring touch from earlier in the season, in order to help his team compete.

“During the regular season, I was scoring a lot of goals and helping the team out.

“I need to start picking it up again, especially at nationals, because everything’s going to count there.”

Third-year midfielder Jake Walmsley said winning nationals is a “huge task,” and the team’s defence will need to be as strong as possible to win.

“I think we have the best defence in the entire ACAC,” said Walmsley.

“If we can continue to keep them at zeroes or ones, it only takes one from us to win.”

The Trojans opening game of nationals was to be against the number one ranked Hawks, from Humber College in Toronto.

“We’re going to have to focus a lot defensively, but it’s not impossible at all,” said Walmsley.

“We can do it.”

The Humber Hawks are the defending national champions, and also enter this year’s national championship with a perfect 13-0 record, including a sweep of provincials in Ontario.

Attitude has to be top class, with no mistakes. – Grant Stevens

A key part of the Hawks team that the Trojans will look to slow down is Marcos Nunes.

Nunes finished tied for the Ontario College’s Athletic Association (OCAA) lead in goals, and also won the OCAA 2016 player of the year award.

About Joel Griffith 7 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Joel Griffith is working as a reporter for The Press during the 2016-17 academic year.