WolfPack soccer teams are adjusting for intense play and new league formats
After a tough first season of CIS play, both WolfPack soccer teams are training hard and getting ready for their new league formats next season.
When the WolfPack women hit the field in September, it will be in a new league format with a 14-game regular season. The WolfPack women will be placed in a division with three other teams: UBC Okanagan, the University of Northern British Columbia and the University of Alberta. The team will also see interlock play against the other division in the pacific region and four teams from the prairie region.
Women’s head coach Tom McManus said his team has never played an Albertan team in the regular season before, and has never played teams from Saskatchewan or Manitoba, either.
While McManus is excited for the new variety of opponents, he isn’t expecting any easy wins.
“If everybody goes in thinking this will be easy, it’s not going to be easy. We’re going to struggle with it if we go in with that thought,” McManus said. “We’re going to have to go in hard and really play as hard as we can all the time.”
Although McManus was glad for the move to CIS, he said the women had a tough time adjusting to the new speed of the game.
“I tried to explain to them exactly what it was going to take. I think some listened but some didn’t,” McManus said. “They were kind of like deer in the headlights.”
But with their first year of CIS play under their belts, McManus expects the women to be better prepared, even with the loss of team captains Emily Edmundson and Bronwyn Crawford.
For next year’s team captains, McManus has his eye on midfielder Emily Oliver and forward Jaydene Radu.
“They’re both very well respected by the players and very well respected by the coaching staff. They don’t fluff off or say ‘oh I can’t make it’ or show up at the last minute. They’re there and they’re ready,” McManus said. “I’ve got a good feeling about the two of them.”
So far McManus has three new recruits signed: two midfielders from Kamloops and a goalkeeper from Richmond B.C.
“I’m looking to definitely come out of our division in a playoff situation and my goal is to make it to nationals,” McManus said. “I think that we do have the experience and the team.”
WolfPack men’s soccer had a tough time adjusting to the new speed of CIS as well, but they’re currently training hard and hoping to make a comeback.
The men won’t see regular season changes, but their post-season will now have the top four teams from each division play each other in a crossover format, with a final four advancing from there.
Team captain Travis Froehlich likes the new post-season format, but would prefer a more inclusive range of opponents in the regular season.
“I think it’d be cool to fly over to Saskatchewan and Edmonton and play those games during the regular season. It’s nice to go somewhere new and kind of experience it,” Froehlich said.
Although the team only has one new recruit signed so far, midfielder/ forward Mitchell Popadynetz, Froehlich said his team might regain some players that left before their eligibilities expired.
The soccer schedules have yet to be released, but because the women’s regular season has changed and the men’s hasn’t, it will likely mean separate travelling schedules for the teams.