MSOC preview: Conference regular season kicks off Friday

MSOC preview: Conference regular season kicks off Friday

Canada West Communications

Highlights:

  • Fraser Valley vs. UBC and Trinity Western vs. Victoria kick off the new season on Friday night
  • The defending CW champion Alberta Golden Bears open the season atop the CW coaches pre-season poll, and open their title defence Saturday against Mount Royal
  • The season leads to Kamloops, B.C., as the Thompson Rivers WolfPack are set to host nationals November 9-12 

EDMONTON – The 2017-18 Canada West (CW) regular season begins this weekend, as men's soccer returns to the turf. 

A pair of Friday night games open the season, as the UBC Thunderbirds host the Fraser Valley Cascades (6:30 p.m. PDT), and the Victoria Vikes welcome the Trinity Western Spartans to Vancouver Island (7:15 p.m. PDT). 

COMPLETE MSOC SCHEDULE 

Entering the season as the favourites to repeat as conference champions are the Alberta Golden Bears, who open their CW and U SPORTS title defences Saturday on the road against Mount Royal (1:30 p.m. MDT). 

The Bears topped the annual pre-season coaches poll, earning nine of a possible 12 first-place votes, finishing with 141 points – five better than last year's CW silver medalists from UBC. 

UBC was the only other school to secure first-place nods from the conference's 13 coaches, as the T-Birds finished with four top votes.

Slotting in behind Alberta and UBC were the Spartans (112 pts.), and a pair of Stampede City teams in the Calgary Dinos (93 pts.) and Mount Royal Cougars (82 pts.).

Those teams enter the 2017 season in search of a trip to Kamloops, B.C. come November, as the Thompson Rivers WolfPack are set to host the U SPORTS national tournament November 9-12. 

The WolfPack enter the season expected to finish in the middle of the pack, slotting in seventh in the coaches poll with 81 points.

2017 CW men's soccer pre-season coaches poll

Place / Team / Points (First-place votes)

  1. Alberta / 141 (9)
  2. UBC / 136 (4)
  3. Trinity Western / 112
  4. Calgary / 93
  5. Mount Royal / 82
  6. *Fraser Valley / 81  
  7. Thompson Rivers / 81       
  8. Saskatchewan / 76 
  9. Victoria / 74  
  10. *Lethbridge / 39      
  11. UBCO / 39    
  12. UNBC / 35    
  13. MacEwan / 25

NOTES: First-place vote worth 12 pts., second-place worth 11 pts. etc. / *Awarded higher position based on greater number of higher placed votes.           

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA GOLDEN BEARS

2016 CW regular season record: /13-1-2/, 1st Prairie Division

2016 post-season record (CW and U SPORTS combined): 6-0, Canada West Champion

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2016 / 11

Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: 2016 / 5 

2016 CW regular season ranks:

Offence: 41 goals, 2nd

Defence: 14 goals against, 2nd

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Goals: 19 – Ajeej Sarkaria, Forward

Assists: 7 – Niko Saler, Defender

Points: 25 – Ajeej Sarkaria, Forward

Wins: 13 – Connor James, Keeper

Shutouts: 8 – Connor James, Keeper

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team): 

Ivan Borka/ Midfielder/ 4/ Winnipeg, Manitoba/ Drury University (NCAA)

Easton Ongaro/ Forward/ 1/ Edmonton, Alberta/ Green and Gold Soccer Academy

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Niko Saler/ Defender/ Lethbridge, AB/ 5

Tim Hickson/ Defender/ Edmonton, AB/ 4

Key performer:

Bruno Zebie

Midfielder

3rd-year

Paris, France

With the departure of team captain Tim Hickson and UAlberta Male Athlete of the Year Niko Saler, the Golden Bears will rely on a young core to content in 2017, centered around midfielder Bruno Zebie. The second team Canada West all-star was tremendous in his first season with the Bears, impacting the game at both ends of the pitch. The box-to-box mid, alongside reigning player of the year Ajeej Sarkaria and conference all-star Connor James, gives the Golden Bears a strong chance at repeating as conference and U SPORTS champions. 

UBC THUNDERBIRDS

2016 CW regular season record: 9-1-6, 1st Pacific Division

2016 post-season record (CW and U SPORTS combined): 4-2, 5th at U SPORTS Championship 

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2015 / 16

Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: 2013 / 13

2016 CW regular season ranks:

Offence: 26 goals, 3rd

Defence: 10 goals against, 1st 

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Goals: 6 – Titouan Chopin, Forward

Assists: 6 – Zach Verhoven, Forward

Points: 9 – Zach Verhoven, Forward

Wins: 5 – Jason Roberts, Goalkeeper

Shutouts: 6 – Jason Roberts, Goalkeeper 

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Victory Shumbusho / forward / 1 / Chilliwack, B.C. / Whitecaps Residency

Sam Fletcher / midfielder / 1 / Victoria, B.C. / Vancouver Island Wave

Patrick Izett / midfielder / 1 / Delta, B.C. / Whitecaps Residency

Kristian Yli-Hietanen / forward / 3 / North Vancouver, B.C. / TSS Rovers

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Bryan Fong / defender / Vancouver, B.C. / 5

Tyler Mertens / defender / Port Coquitlam, B.C. / 5

Jules Chopin / midfielder / Kaslo, B.C. / 3

Titouan Chopin / forward / Kaslo, B.C. / 2

Key performer:

Chad Bush

Goalkeeper

Third

Ottawa, Ont. 

Chad Bush is looking to rebound after missing a large chunk of the 2016 season because of injury. He was impressive in seven regular season appearances, going 4-0-2, with a pair of shutouts, before leading UBC to a fifth-place finish at the U SPORTS national championship tournament. Bush and Jason Roberts combined to help the T-Bird defence finish the regular season campaign with a league-low 10 goals against.

UBC OKANAGAN HEAT 

2016 CW regular season record: / 6-8-2 /, 4th Pacific

2016 post-season record (CW and U SPORTS combined): 0-1, Lost 1-0 in CW quarter-finals

Last CW championship / total CW championships: / 

2016 CW regular season ranks:

Offence: 13 goals, 12th

Defence: 20 goals against, 6th 

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Goals: 3 – Nikhil Reddy, Midfield

Assists: 3 – Cole Kingzett, Midfield

Points: 4 – Cole Kingzett, Midfield, Nikhil Reddy, Midfield, Luke Warkentin, Forward

Wins: 6 – Mitch McCaw, Keeper

Shutouts: 5 – Mitch McCaw, Keeper 

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Sam MacDonald / D / 1 / Kelowna / Team BC

Aaron Mulama / F / 1 / Abbotsford / Team BC

Taylor Pichie / M / 1 / Kelowna / Kelowna United

Jimmy Steel / M / 1 / Salt Spring Island / Mid Isle FC 

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Kieran Large / M / Victoria / 2

Zach Rachinski / F / Kamloops / 1

Luke Warkentin / F / Surrey / 2

Spencer Young / D / Kelowna / 1

Key performer:

Mitch McCaw

Goalkeeper

5th-year

Calgary, AB 

Last season Mitch McCaw was the first ever soccer player form UBC Okanagan to earn a spot on a Canada West All-Star team. Mitch's skill in the net was put to the test in every match last season as the Heat averaged under a goal a game, with such a narrow margin for error McCaw stepped up and notched five shutouts and won six matches to pull the UBCO squad to a trip to the post season.

McCaw was great in the Quarter-final match on the road in Edmonton allowing just one goal yet his team ended up falling 1-0 to the eventual national champion albert Golden Bears.

If UBCO once again struggle to score it will be McCaw once again whom the Heat look upon to keep them in the match and return to the postseason. 

CALGARY DINOS

2016 CW regular season record: 9-4-3, 2nd Prairie Division

2016 post-season record (CW and U SPORTS combined): 1-2, CW 4th place 

Last CW championship / total CW championships (if no championships, list highest previous finish): 1980 / 1

Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: / 

2016 CW regular season ranks:

Offence: 45 G, 1st CW

Defence: 18 GA, 5th CW 

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Goals: 15 – Dominic Russo, F

Assists: 11 – Dominick Zator, D

Points: 24 – Dominic Russo, F

Wins: 8 – Hunter Brett, GK

Shutouts: 4 – Hunter Brett, GK

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Will Hesson / M / 1 / Calgary, Alta. / Calgary Foothills

Jake Ruschkowski / GK / 1 / Calgary, Alta. / Calgary Foothills

Adam Huskic / D / 1 / Calgary, Alta. / Calgary Villains

Jeff Spolnik / M / 1 / Calgary, Alta. / Calgary Foothills

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Dominic Russo / F / Calgary / 5

Dominick Zator / D / Calgary / 5

Kieran Lane-Oppenheim / F / Calgary, Alta. / 5 

Key performer:

Bori Falaye

Midfield / Forward

2nd-year

Calgary, Alta.

It's a youth movement for the University of Calgary Dinos men's soccer squad in 2017, following the departure of a core of graduating seniors led by a pair of All-Canadians, striker Dominic Russo and fullback Dominick Zator. Heading into the campaign, 16 players are in either their first or second year of eligibility, and the Dinos will look to Bori Falaye to provide an offensive spark. 

Falaye was the Canada West rookie of the year in 2016 thanks to a seven-goal, five assist campaign that saw him finish third in the league in scoring, despite an injury-shortened season. In addition to becoming Calgary's first CW rookie of the year since 1997, Falaye was also named a second team conference all-star.

UFV CASCADES

2016 CW regular season record: 8-6-2, 3rd in Pacific Division

2016 post-season record (CW and U SPORTS combined): 0-1 

Last CW championship / total CW championships (if no championships, list highest previous finish): 2013, 2015 / 3rd

Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: / 

2016 CW regular season ranks:

Offence: 19 goals, 10th

Defence: 15 goals against, 3rd

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Goals: 5 – Justin Sekhon, M

Assists: 2 – four players tied

Points: 6 – Sekhon and James Najman, F

Wins: 5 – Alex Skrzeta, GK

Shutouts: 5 – Skrzeta 

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

John Kasper / D / Year 1 / Langley, B.C. / Vancouver Whitecaps U18

Spencer Williams / M / Year 1 / Tenby, Wales / Haverford County FC

Karan Kular / F / Year 1 / Surrey, B.C. / Surrey United

Parman Minhas / M / Year 1 / Abbotsford, B.C. / Coastal FC

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Connor MacMillan / M / Chilliwack, B.C. / 5

James Najman / F / Surrey, B.C. / 5

Justin Sekhon / M / Abbotsford, B.C. / 5

Sahib Phagura / D / Abbotsford, B.C. / 5

Sukh Dhaliwal / D / Abbotsford, B.C. / 4

Daniel Davidson / F / Abbotsford, B.C. / 3 

Key performer

Tammer Byrne

Centre back

4th-year

Abbotsford, B.C.

Fourth-year centre back Tammer Byrne is the leader of a stingy Cascades back line which allowed just 15 goals (third-fewest in Canada West) and paved the way for eight clean sheets in 16 league games in 2016. Byrne is a two-time Canada West all-star (second team in 2015, first team in 2016) and will wear the captain's armband for UFV this season.

LETHBRIDGE PRONGHORNS

2016 CW regular season record: /8-6-2/, 4th in Prairie Division

2016 post-season record (CW and U SPORTS combined): 0-1, Canada West quarter-final loss 

Last CW championship / total CW championships: Highest finish 3rd in 2000

Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: /

2016 CW regular season ranks:

Offence: 24 goals, T-5

Defence: 24 goals against, T-7 

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Goals: 7 – Chris Rushworth, Midfield

Assists: 8 – Nico Pasquotti, Midfield

Points: 11 – Chris Rushworth, Midfield

Wins: 8 – Nolan French, Goalkeeper

Shutouts: 4 – Nolan French, Goalkeeper

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Ellis Davies/ Midfield /1st year / Calgary, Alberta/ Trinity Western

Hayes Wittrock /Midfield/ 2nd year/ Lethbridge, Alberta/ Columbia College 

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Chris Rushworth/ Midfield/ Cranbrook, B.C. / 4

Nico Pasquotti/ Midfield/ Lethbridge, Alberta/ 1

Kendell Wiens/ Striker/ Lethbridge, Alberta/ 3

Domenic Rigaux/ Midfield/ Oyen, Alberta/ 5

Key performer:

Sean Gaiesky

Midfield

4th-year

Prince George, B.C.

With the majority of the offensive fire power that propelled the Lethbridge Pronghorns to their first playoff appearance since 2000 departing, captain Sean Gaiesky will be tasked to lead a relatively young Pronghorn side, searching for their second consecutive playoff berth. 

If the Pronghorns are to continue trending upwards, Gaiesky will need to solidify midfield on both sides of the ball but especially on the defensive side. Outgoing players accounted for exactly half of the team's 24 goals scored last season and low scoring games will likely be key to the team's success this season.

MACEWAN GRIFFINS

2016 CW regular season record: 2-11-3, 6th in Prairie Division

2016 post-season record (CW and U SPORTS combined): Missed playoffs 

Last CW championship / total CW championships: /

Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: / 

2016 CW regular season ranks:

Offence: 12 goals, 14th

Defence: 37 goals against, 13th

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Goals: 4 – Lahai Mansaray, F

Assists: 2 – Samuel Foster, D

Points: 5 – Lahai Mansaray, F

Wins: 2 – Dylon Powley, GK

Shutouts: 2 – Dylon Powley, GK

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Dory Elliott / GK / 1 / Edmonton / Vancouver Whitecaps

Sean Douglas / D / 4 / Winnipeg / Grande Prairie Regional College

Christian Kosmin / M / 1 / Edmonton / Edmonton Scottish

Zibusiso Moyo / D / 2 / Edmonton / King's University College 

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Dylon Powley / GK / 2 / Edmonton / Foothills FC

Bryce Prochnau / D / 3 / Edmonton / Edmonton Scottish 

Key performer

Lahai Mansaray

Forward

3rd-year

Edmonton, Alta.

After recording six goals and 10 points in his first two seasons with the Griffins, the dynamic playmaker returns for a third campaign as one of MacEwan's veterans in 2017-18. Mansaray's creativity, speed and ball control made him the subject of double teams often last season. With the potential for a vastly improved and more balanced scoring attack on the Griffins, he could find more open space to unleash his lethal shot this season.

MOUNT ROYAL COUGARS

2016 CW regular season record: 8-4-4 3rd

2016 post-season record: 0-1  

Last CW championship / total CW championships: Highest finish 3rd in 2015 and 2016

Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: / 

2016 CW regular season ranks:

Offence: 25 goals, 4th

Defence: 15 goals against, 4th

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Goals: 8 – Cody Cook, M

Assists: 3 – Cody Cook, M

Points: 11 – Cody Cook, M

Wins: 2 – Cailyn Leeson, GK

Shutouts: 4 – Cailyn Leeson, GK 

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team): 

Joshua Munoz /1 / Winnipeg, MB / Team MB

Noah Ratushny / 1 / Calgary, AB / Saint Mary's Saints

Hafiz Mahjor / 1 / Calgary AB / Sparta FC CUSA

Kylan Johnson / 1 / Calgary, AB / Calgary Juventus 

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Cody Cook / M / Cranbrook, BC / 5

Kamil Zielinski / GK / Calgary, AB / 5

Tyrin Hutchings / D / Calgary, AB / 4

Key performer

Jeff Blake

Midfield

5th-year

Calgary, Alta.

A versatile player that provides the Cougars with some positional flexibility, Bake is MRU's leader on and off the field as a veteran fifth-year presence on a team that lost some key pieces from last season.

UNBC TIMBERWOLVES

2016 CW regular season record: 4-10-2, 12th

Last CW championship / total CW championships: Highest finish 12th in 2016

2016 CW regular season ranks:

Offence: 18 GF, 11th

Defence: 34 GA, 12th 

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Goals: 5 – Tofa Fakunle, Midfield, Francesco Bartolillo, Midfield

Assists: 4 – Fakunle, Bartolillo

Points: 9 – Fakunle, Bartolillo 

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Joel Watson / Midfield / 1st Year/ Victoria, BC / Victoria Highlanders

Tyrone Venhola / Goalkeeper / 5th Year / Abbotsford, BC / UNBC (2015-2016)

Stuart Rowlands / Forward / 2nd Year / Chilliwack, BC / UFV

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Mitch MacFarlane / Goalkeeper / Prince George, BC / 5

Keenan Cartwright / Midfield/ Squamish, BC, / 1

Key performer:

Tofa Fakunle

Midfield

5th-year

Calgary, AB 

Heading into his fifth and final season with the Timberwolves, captain Tofa Fakunle looks to lead UNBC into the Canada West playoffs. The program all-time leader in goals, assists, and points, Fakunle is an emotional leader, captaining last year's squad to team records for goals, wins, and points. 

SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES

2016 CW regular season record: 6-7-3, 5th Prairie Division

2016 post-season record (CW and U SPORTS combined): N/A 

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2014 / 1

Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: 2013 / 6th

2016 CW regular season ranks:

Offence: 24 goals, 5th

Defence: 27 goals against, 5th

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Goals: 4 – Jacob Powell, M

Assists: 4 – Bryce Marinus, M

Points: 6 – Bryce Marinus, M

Wins: 6 – Greg Buckley, GK

Shutouts: 4 – Greg Buckley, GK

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Kwame Opoku / MID / 1 / Calgary, AB / Calgary Foothills FC U23

Tobias Hyrich-Krueger / STR / 2 / Winnipeg, MB / WSA Winnipeg

Joseph Powell / MID / 1 / Coquitlam BC / Coquitlam Metro-Ford

Zach Edwards / CB / 1 / Saskatoon / Centennial Chargers

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Mitch Bauche / MID / Saskatoon, SK / 5

Greg Buckley / GK / Saskatoon, SK / 4

Key performer:

Jacob Powell

Midfield

3rd-year

Coquitlam, BC

An offensive threat from midfield, Jacob Powell enters his third-year of eligibility with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies as captain. The Business student led the Huskies in goals with four in 2016 and played in all 16 matches. He was named a Canada West Second Team All-Star for his efforts.  Powell will be joined by his younger brother, Joseph, in 2017.

THOMPSON RIVERS WOLFPACK

2016 CW regular season record: 6-9-1, 5th in Pacific

Last CW championship / total CW championships: /

Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: /

2016 CW regular season ranks:

Offence: 24 goals, T-5th CW

Defence: 24 goals, T-6th CW 

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Goals: 10 - Ryan Glanville, F  

Assists: 5 - Mitchell Popadynetz, F

Points: 11 - Glanville, F

Wins: 6 - Claye Harsany, GK

Shutouts: 5 - Harsany 

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

James Fraser / F / 2nd year / Penticton, BC / SFU/Penticton Pinnacles

Anatoli Leveille / M / 1st year / Winnipeg, MB / REX Whitecaps Academy

Jan Perrlas Glasmacher / M / 2nd year / Barcelona, Spain / Virginia Tech

Alex Ram / GK / 1st year / Leicester, UK / Leicehershire County FA

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Claye Harsany / GK /  High River, AB / 2

Key performer:

Ryan Glanville

Forward

5th-year

Williams Lake, BC

The two-time CW all-star and Academic All-Canadian looks to lead a WolfPack squad getting set to make its debut at nationals, as TRU hosts the U SPORTS tournament November 9-12.

TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS

2016 CW regular season record: 9-5-2, 2nd in Pacific Division  

2016 post-season record (CW and U SPORTS combined): 2-1, 3rd   

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2007 / 3

Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: 2006 & 2008 / 2nd Place 

2016 CW regular season ranks:

Offence: 22 goals, 9th

Defence: 21 goals against, 8th 

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Goals: 6 – Elijah Adekugbe, Midfielder

Assists: 6 – Elijah Adekugbe, Midfielder

Points: 12 – Elijah Adekugbe, Midfielder

Wins: 9 – Andrew Hicks, Goalkeeper

Shutouts: 4 – Andrew Hicks, Goalkeeper

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Josh Hardy / D / 4th / Burnaby, B.C. / Langara College

Sebastian Colyn / GK / 1st / Langley, B.C. / Langley Christian

Gordon Grice / M / 1st / Burnaby, B.C. / Burnaby North 

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Andrew Hicks / GK / Surrey, B.C. / 5

Mitchell Urzinger / M / Langley, B.C. / 4

Taylor Johnson / D / Calgary / 5

Connor Noftle / D / Chilliwack, B.C. / 2 

Key performer:

Joel Waterman

Midfielder

4th-year

Aldergrove, B.C. 

Coming into his fourth season with the Spartans, Joel Waterman has solidified himself as one to TWU's most critical pieces in the middle of the park and one of the most entertaining midfielders to watch in Canada West. After an impressive 2016 campaign with TWU, Waterman built on his third-year success with a strong summer playing in the PDL with TSS Rovers in which he finished second on his team in minutes played. Waterman was a dominant force last year with TWU, patrolling the midfield and will once again guide the Spartans ship from box to box. 

VICTORIA VIKES

2016 CW regular season record: 5-10-1, 6th in Pacific Division

2016 post-season record: /

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2009 / 13

Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships Year: 2011 / 5

2016 CW regular season ranks:

Offence: 23 goals, 8th

Defence: 31 goals against, 11th 

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Goals: 6 – Isaac Koch, MID

Assists: 3 – Paulo Dait, MID

Points: 8 – Paulo Dait, MID

Wins: 4 – Noah Pawlowski, GK

Shutouts: 2 – Noah Pawlowski, GK

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Will Adams / MID / 1 / Victoria, B.C. / Reynolds Secondary

Josh Lamothe / D / 1 / Victoria, B.C. / Reynolds Secondary

Ian Whibley / Fd / 1 / Errington, B.C. / Ballenas Secondary

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Adam Ravenhill / D / Victoria, B.C. / 5

Noah Pawlowski / GK / Victoria, B.C. / 4

Samuel Prette / F / Victoria, B.C. / 5

Key performer:

Isaac Koch

Midfielder

3rd-year

West Kelowna, B.C.

Despite missing significant time due to injury Isaac Koch led the Vikes in scoring in the 2016 season, recording six goals in just eight games played.

 A midfielder who loves to cut into the middle of the field from a wide position, Koch uses a mixture of speed and a thunderous shot to blaze past defenders and leave opposing goalies helpless to keep the ball out of the net. 

Going into just his third year of eligibility, Koch will undoubtedly play a large role in the offence as the Vikes look to return to the Canada West playoffs after missing out last season.