Claye Harsany is enjoying a pretty charmed life these days. And it is no accident.
The second-year soccer player from High River, Alta., is a hard worker. That diligence is paying off with the TRU WolfPack men’s team.
As the team enters its third weekend of play in the Canada West, Harsany has become the WolfPack’s starting keeper after winning the job in training camp. As well, he enters his second year pursuing a bachelor of science degree and is an CIS Academic All Canadian.
Harsany has played in all four matches (1-3), the WolfPack have played this year with a goals against average of 1. He is second in the Canada West in saves (18).
“For the first four games to come out 1-3 as a team wasn’t the start we were looking for,” Harsany said about TRU and his start.
“Facing UBC, one of the top teams in the country and held our own. The game against UVIC we were strong and then this past weekend (1-0 losses to Fraser Valley and Trinity Western), we competed. Those four teams are the upper echelon of the league. Our team is a lot different than our record. The boys are ready and are looking for two wins this weekend.”
The WolfPack entertain UNBC Timberwolves (0-4) at Hillside Stadium on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10-11. Kick off both days is 1 p.m.
Harsany was with TRU last year, but didn’t play a minute with Travis Froehlich (Revelstoke) playing his fifth and final year. After being a starter throughout his minor soccer career, it was a different situation for him to be in. Some might have sulked. Claye took it as an opportunity.
“Travis was a great mentor. He was unbelievable. To watch from the bench gave me a unique perspective. I got a good grasp of the university game and how he played it. He had so much passion and emotion for the game. Going into training sessions with him was awesome. He pushed me to do better. I hoped I did the same for him.”
WolfPack coach John Antulov has been pleased with Harsany’s performance.
“He came into camp in great shape, ready and focused to carry the starter’s mantle. With Lubo (Magdolen, Kamloops) and Brady (VanWyswyk, Penticton), who we have the utmost confidence in as well, we have a solid Goalkeeping core for the coming years. All had very good camps and both pushed Claye, but he did well and earned the starters position due to that. He didn't do anything for me to say, 'Start with one of the other guys.' His play so far in our first four games has been very good and he has made some big saves. We must remember he is learning on the job right now as he did not play any games last year and still has room for improvement in some areas but is working to develop those and will continually improve.”
Looking ahead to this weekend, Harsany said the WolfPack’s depth will be a key to picking up a pair of victories. “We have battles going on at every position. Whoever earns the right to start will be chomping at the bit. We have a lot of pace and can finish. We have to play with confidence and not hold anything back. Six points is not only my goal this weekend but everyone’s.”
He added that although there is still a lot of the season left, the WolfPack are gunning for a playoff spot as their goal.
“It is so tight in Canada West this year. With UBC and the other big teams losing a lot of big guys: they aren’t as strong as they were. I think this program at TRU continues to develop and grow. This season continues to look promising for us. At this point, anyone could finish in the top four spots. Realistically, we could slide right in there and compete.”
This weekend’s matches will be webcast on Canadawest.tv
CORNER KICKS: Two of Harsany’s teammates are among the statistical leaders in Canada West. Justin Donaldson (2nd year, middle, Kamloops,) is third in goal scoring and points (4) and has taken 11 shots so far in four matches.
Mitchell Popadynetz (3rd year, forward, Nelson) is second in assists (2) and fifth in shots (12).
Harsany on being an Academic All Canadian in his first year: “I have always set the goal of doing something well and doing it right. In academics, I have always strived to do my best. One of my goals last year was to maintain a high GPA and continue to play sports. I was pleased with how things turned out.”
On getting a shutout in his second Canada West match: “Going into the season I had a whole lot of goals and I go into every game trying to get a ‘clean sheet.’ It wasn’t more of a monkey off the back to get it early rather than expectations of getting one. The guys in front of me played unbelievable that match. It wasn’t my clean sheet, it was a team effort.”