Soccer is an interesting game, on the surface it seems like a basic sport that’s all about kicking a reasonably sized ball into a net; it’s not, it is called the beautiful game because it encourages expression in a way that no other sport does.
It is not just about kicking the ball into the net but rather it is about how you get there, the passing, the movement, the teamwork; soccer is a combination of athleticism, technical skill and poise.
The men’s WolfPack soccer team has had the first two elements but have lacked in the finishing department for most of the season, until now.
The ’Pack beat the Alberta Golden Bears 3-1 on Oct. 27. It was an impressive performance that showed once again the balance of the WolfPack both in attack and defense.
TRU had a dominant performance in the first half and led 2-0 at the break in play.
Mitchell Popadynetz opened the scoring in the twenty-seventh minute with a long range shot that Alberta goalkeeper, Connor James, could not stop.
Josh Banton, one of TRU’s most reliable performers scored a header off Popadynetz’s free kick, the goal was scored 37 minutes into the game.
Alberta managed to get back in the contest with a goal in the fifty-third minute. Ajeej Sarkaria was the goal scorer.
TRU put the game to bed five minutes later, as the ever reliable, Justin Donaldson scored after a scramble in the eighteen yard area.
TRU like always, played well in defense but the difference this time was that they took advantage of their chances in the attacking third.
Popadynetz continues to be an offensive force as he contributed to the win with an assist and a goal.
The most ironic thing about this win was that three of the program’s most reliable players in Popadynetz, Donaldson and Banton, were the goal scorers.
After a slow start to the season the team is now hitting its best form at just the right time. This win is TRU’s sixth win in the last seven games, a phenomenal turnaround.
The team has gone from having slim hopes of qualifying for the playoffs to now potentially contending.
To an extent this result is an upset, but it’s not as surprising a result as it seems on the surface. The ’Pack played well enough to win in their 1-0 loss to the Golden Bears earlier in the season.
“Very happy for the boys. Overall it was a fantastic effort. The guys played great from the beginning to the end, defensively we were very sound,” said head coach John Antulov to TRU athletics. “The backline was absolutely fantastic. We were able to convert the chances that we got.”
Antulov also gave credit to his graduating players, Popadynetz, Lantmeeters, McPhie and Staiger for their performances and their contribution to the final result.
“Overall I’m happy with the way the guys played. They knew it was going to be a tough battle. They rose up to the occasion,” Antulov added.
TRU have beat the sixth and number one ranked teams in the last few weeks; a massive accomplishment.
They will be headed to the final four for the second straight year. Spirits should be high as the team has hit their stride at just the right time.