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Men aim for consistency in Alberta

September 22, 2016 12:46 P.M.

WolfPack will try to get back into the win column with a pair of road matches this weekend in Canada West men’s soccer. 

The team spends the weekend in Edmonton, where they take on the MacEwan University Griffins Saturday, Sept. 24, before meeting the Golden Bears at University of Alberta on Sunday (Sept. 25).

“They both will be definitely be tough games for sure,” said WolfPack head coach John Antulov. “With Alberta being ranked second in the country. That will be a difficult game. We played MacEwan in the preseason already. We know what they are all about. We need to go into the proper mindset in order to be ready for both.”

Alberta leads the Prairie Division with seven wins and a draw and scoring a league high 21 goals. MacEwan is winless with five losses and a tie. The Griffins have lost their last three starts.

The WolfPack are fifth in the Pacific Division with three wins and five defeats. They have scored the most goals of any team in the division with 14.

In Alberta, the ‘Pack will run into the Canada West’s top gunner. Ajeej Sarkaria has 10 goals and four assists. The Golden Bears also have the top keeper in terms of saves. Connor James has made 40 this year.

TRU’s Ryan Glanville (4th year, forward, Williams Lake) stands third in goals with six. Teammate Justin Donaldson (2nd year, midfield, Kamloops) is tied for fourth with five goals. Glanville is tied for fourth in overall points with seven.

“We are happy with everybody right now,” the coach said when asked about who is surprising him with their play.  “No one is really surprising me. I was happy with the recruiting that we had done this year and knew we had some really solid players coming into the fold.”

Antulov believes his team matches up well with both MacEwan and Alberta. “Being on the road presents its own set of different challenges. The guys have to go in with the right mindset and make sure they are mentally focused for both games. Our first focus is MacEwan on Saturday and ensuring we are prepared.”

The coach says he likes the way his team has scored this season. “We are scoring goals and finding our touch on that. At times, we have really looked good for as long as 60 minutes. We know we can compete with anybody. But it is finding that 90-minute consistency that we are really looking for right now.”

Although on paper, Alberta has the best record of any team in the Canada West says there are a lot of good teams in the league. “Alberta is good no question but I look at some of the teams in our division and then Calgary as teams that are right there. We play against a lot of solid sides. I don’t think there is any team better than the other. They are all tough matches.”

With the season half over, Antulov says it is too early to contemplate the playoffs. “We have eight games to go. These ones this weekend are critical towards it. Everybody is in the same boat. Anything can happen any weekend. For us, we need to focus on the game ahead. I have been telling my players not to look past our next opponent.  We have to look at Saturday. Then we look to Sunday and after that, to the next week. I don’t want my players to think too far ahead. We are not there yet … to think that we have a spot solidified for the playoffs.”

After the weekend, the WolfPack return home for a rare Thursday night affair (Oct 6) when the UBC Okanagan Heat come to town. Kickoff will be 8 p.m. at Hillside Stadium.

The matches against MacEwan and Alberta are available on pay per view on www.Canadawesttv.

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