The UFV men’s soccer team faces a big change to their roster this season. The team saw five players graduate, two players go to medical school, and gained 10 rookies. The squad this year has a total of 26 players.
Last season, the team had the most wins in a season in program history, and had the least amount of goals scored against them. They made the playoffs for the 5th consecutive year.
In an interview with head coach Tom Lowndes, he said “the team is going to have to find a new identity for a group of players who aren’t used to playing with one another.”
According to Lowndes, the biggest challenge the team will face this season is their age and lack of university experience. The players that have been brought in have played in top environments such as U18 Club Nationals, and U18 Whitecaps Program. However, this will be their first real experience at university soccer, and playing games on back-to-back nights, said Lowndes.
“This will be a great opportunity to learn off one another,” Lowndes said.
This year, the team had their first league games on August 25-26. On Friday, they played against UBC, and lost 1-0. The next day, they battled against UVIC, and tied 2-2. In these two matches, the Cascades started five rookies.
“This was a real eye opener for the young players on our team, and they saw the level of play we need to be more consistent with,” Lowndes said.
Lowndes believes that the rookies will benefit down the road from starting at that level of play early in their university career.
This year, the team’s last league game will be at the end of October. If they make the playoffs, they will compete until November. The biggest rival team for the Cascades this season is Trinity Western University.
“We have had some good battles with them the last couple years,” Lowndes said.
The other main competitors in the Canada West Conference are the University of British Columbia, Thompson Rivers University, and the University of Victoria. All of these teams have had intense matches, and will help the Cascades gain experience at the university level.