TRU WolfPack men’s soccer team has another stiff test this weekend in the Canada West.
The WolfPack (1-1) will hit the road for the first time this young 2016 campaign as they pay a visit to the Trinity Western University Spartans on Friday, Sept. 2, and University of the Fraser Valley Cascades Saturday, Sept 3.
The Spartans are unbeaten in two starts while the Cascades have yet to play.
“We are looking forward to this first road swing,” said TRU head coach John Antulov. “It is very exciting and we know we are in for two difficult matches. These are two teams that were one game away from going to Nationals last season, so we know it will be a challenge.”
Following a win over UVIC and a narrow defeat at the hands of defending league champion UBC last week, the WolfPack did some positive things according to the coach. “I feel we have good confidence from those two games, but we have to put those aside and be ready for two more difficult ones.”
“UFV is a high-pressure team and never gives up so we are woking on fast play and holding possession under pressure while Trinity is very similar,” Antulov said. “Both will be very difficult to break down, so this will be our focus this week along with keeping our defensive shape.”
The ‘Pack are led by Canada West first all-star of the week Justin Donaldson (2nd year, midfield, Kamloops) on offense. He had four goals the first week. That was one more than Elijah Adekugbke of Trinity Western.
“I feel I am going to get some more attention this weekend,” Donaldson says. “I expect to be pressured a bit more. But we have quite the attack.”
“Justin had a great weekend,” Antulov said about his top gunner. “Hopefully his play will create space and opportunities for other players if the opposition decides to focus on him. We were hoping to have contributions from other players aside from Ryan (Glanville, 4th year, forward, Williams Lake; Canada West 2nd team all-star last year) and Mitch (Popadynetz, 3rd year, forward, Nelson). This is a good start and we hope that trend continues.”
Popadynetz is tied for second in points with three points.
Adekugbe is tied for the lead in Canada West shots with nine-one better than Donaldson.
Clay Harsany (2nd year, keeper, High River, Alta.) is third in league in saves (10) and fifth in the league in saves percentage (8.33).
The WolfPack have utilized almost their entire bench so far this year which is something Antulov believes is evidence of their depth. “We are happy with that. Our focus though has been to work together as a group and ensure everyone understands it will take 22 players to be successful. Sometimes depth is a challenge for a coach to ensure everyone stays happy. But that’s a good problem to have.”
After the weekend, the WolfPack return home to face UNBC Timberwolves Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10-11. Kickoff both those days will be 1 p.m.