The bad air quality affected a lot of people over the summer, but none more than the men’s soccer team who had their season opener later than they would have liked and were not able to get enough games in the pre-season.
TRU opened their season on August 27, two days later than originally scheduled, with a 1-0 loss to UFV.
It was a game that TRU dominated and should have won, but didn’t due to their inability to finish off their opportunities. TRU had 16 shots to UFV’s 7.
After that game head coach John Antulov admitted to TRU Athletics that he believed that rustiness was a major factor in his team’s performance.
TRU finally demonstrated their true potential against UBCO with a 4-0 win in the first game of the Presidents Cup.
Scores were tied at 0-0 in the first half with TRU playing better, but unable to convert.
In the second half, TRU turned the heat on and produced a dominant attacking display with four unanswered goals.
TRU outshot UBCO 16-6 in the contest.
“We were really clicking especially in that second half. The guys were really moving the ball around,” Antulov said to TRU athletics. “We knew if we could get some opportunities, especially on the flanks, we could cause some problems.”
Justin Donaldson was a key performer in that game, his work rate with and without the ball is impressive and the team seems to be dangerous whether he is playing on the left or right wing.
TRU then followed up that result with a good draw against UBCO in Kelowna in the second game of the Presidents Cup.
It can be argued it was a good result given the fact it was away from home and the fact the team had to travel within 48 hours from the previous game. It also doesn’t hurt to have four points out of six against your rivals.
TRU followed that up with a tough 2-0 loss to UBC. The ‘Pack gave away a goal in the first half and found it difficult to create opportunities.
The game also marked the debut of two players, Khalifa Fanne, a fourth-year from France and Levi Andoh, a first-year from England.
TRU was also able to secure a 3-3 draw against UVic.
The WolfPack was down 2-0 at half-time, but showed enough character to come back and tie the game 2-2. Josh Banton eventually scored a stoppage-time goal to make it 3-3 after UVic had gone ahead again.
Antulov did mention to TRU Athletics the need for his team to improve their performance in the final third of the pitch, something that will be crucial for TRU if they are going to qualify or have a deep run in the playoffs.
Mitchell Popadynetz will be the key player in attack, Justin Donaldson will provide the work rate on the wing and James Fraser’s hold-up play and his ability to create space for his teammates will also be very important if TRU is to score more goals.
It’s not a perfect start for the ‘Pack men’s soccer, but there is plenty of time left to get things right this season.