Exhibition matches are for evaluation.
Both Thompson Rivers University WolfPack coach John Antulov and UNBC Timberwolves boss Steve Simonson got a chance to do a lot of that as the teams met in pre-season Canada West men’s soccer action Friday, Aug 12.
The Timberwolves won their first exhibition match of 2016 with a 2-1 win over the WolfPack on the lower field at Hillside Stadium. TRU falls to 1-1 in exhibition play.
UNBC led 1-0 at half time when Cheona Edzerza got the ball late and blasted a drive to the right side of the net which evaded rookie WolfPack keeper Lubomir Magdolen (Kamloops).
Edzerza put the Timberwolves up 2-0 early in the second half beating TRU’s Brady Van Ryswyk (Penticton).
“He has come back after taking the year off last year,” the UNBC coach said. “He is a finisher and he showed that today.”
TRU’s marker came midway through the second half. Alumni Justin Wallace (Kamloops, BC) took a corner kick which was headed in by red shirt Zach Barone.
“It was a great battle tonight,” said Antulov. “It was great to see some of our alumni guys come in and help us out. The way our young guys played well. Our four practice players that came on in the second half were outstanding. We played with a mix of alumni and our really really young players. I thought they did well.”
UNBC utilized Mitch McFarlane in the nets in the first half and Rob Goodey in the second.
“I just wanted to play two separate squads and see where we are at this stage of the early season,” Simonson said. “This was a good test for us. We have seven new players on the team this year. We are giving them a chance to fit in. They met or in some cases exceeded expectations.”
“It is pretty hard for a young player to come in and play against players who older than themselves,” he added
Antulov said with five games in five days, he plans to utilize a number of alumni players to give his young crew some rest.
“They will likely play Sunday. I thought they came in and did a great job. We had a lot of play in this match. We made two mistakes and it cost us. Those were young guys who made mistakes. That’s OK because that is going to happen.”
The WolfPack coach said having the alumni alongside the current squad can only help steady the young players psyche going forward.
“We are trying to rebuild the alumni program and bring them back into the fold. Opportunities like this feed into it. It is good for the young guys to see the good, quality players that we have had here over the years. If you look at the guys who played tonight: James Byra, Adam Dodgson, Justin Wallace, Kyle Halvorson—there is a lot of quality there. Our young guys are going to learn from them.”
The five team exhibition tournament continues Saturday, Aug 13. TRU meets MacEwan Griffins at 9 am followed by UBCO Heat facing Quest at 11 a.m. and UNBC tangling with Douglas College at 1 p.m. All matches will be played on the artificial turf at Hillside Stadium.
The WolfPack open their 2016 Canada West regular season on Saturday, Aug. 27 at Hillside against the UBC Thunderbirds. Kickoff will be 1 p.m.