In a week filled with high-intensity practices, the SAIT Trojans men’s soccer team trained with pace and purpose that they carried into a highly anticipated two-game road trip to start their season.
All the hard work proved beneficial as the Trojans arrived back in Calgary with a perfect three wins in three matches to start the 2017 campaign.
“This weekend sets the tone for the rest of the season,” stated head coach Grant Stevens, in a media release.
“What I like is that these back-to-back road trip games gives our players the psychological preparation they will need if we go to the conference championship.”
That’s exactly what the Trojans have their sights set on this season.
“Our goal is to finish at the top of our league, and it’s a realistic goal,” said midfielder Jake Walmsley, a fourth-year veteran of the Trojans.
The Trojans started the road trip against Lakeland College on Saturday, Sept. 16, and put their offense on display with a 6-0 victory.
They wrapped up the weekend with a tidy 2-0 win over Red Deer College on Sunday, Sept. 17, which secured them in top position, with nine points, in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC), while only conceding one goal over those three games.
“The team looks really strong, and just as strong as the other teams I’ve played on,” Walmsley added.
With a 3-1 win in their first match on Saturday, Sept. 9, the team knew there was still work to be done, but that first victory was exactly what the team needed to start off the season.
“We were tied at half time, and we were a bit down on ourselves, but we came out after, adjusted, turned it around and got two nice goals,” said Walmsley,
“In the second half we never felt like we were going to lose.”
The Trojans’ first week filled with hard work and preparation foreshadowed the results produced on the weekend’s road trip.
“We wanted to set a statement, and I think the statement was that we are really intense on the field, and some teams won’t like our intensity, but that’s how we’re going to play,” Walmsley stated.
Walmsley, who scored the second goal for the Trojans on Sunday in Red Deer, knows he and the other veteran players have leadership duties as the Trojans welcomed nine first-year players to their roster this season.
“You have to make sure they’re on top of their game during practice, and then include them outside of practice and make sure they feel like part of the team,” he said,
“You also have to give them their fair share of hassle and rookie responsibilities.”
“We know that we’ll have to earn our role,” said first-year player Dean Northover, who scored the Trojans’ first goal of the season in their opener versus Olds College, and added another tally at Lakeland College.
“It was good to get the jitters out in that first game of the year,” Northover said,
“I feel a lot more comfortable now,” he said.
“We seem to be coming together pretty well.”
Our goal is to finish at the top of our league, and it’s a realistic goal.- Jake Walmsley
“They’ve all been really nice and really taken us [first-year players] in,” Northover said, who played for coach Stevens as a teen-ager.
“It’s been really good.”