Print Edition: August 21, 2012
The sun was relentless at Bateman Park on August 11 for the second varsity men’s soccer preseason game. After a tough season, the boys travelled to Victoria for the University of Victoria’s annual Keg Classic and came home champions. With a new belief and depth in the squad, the boys tied their first preseason game 1-1.
Prior to the match, which was versus Langara, I had the opportunity to talk with one of the newest prospects, Conor MacMillan. He told me that he, like many of his teammates, is studying Kinesiology. When asked why he chose UFV he said it was because he wanted to improve his game at a high level of play and gain experience. And, because I am always interested to know, I asked him about any pre-game superstitions he maintains. “Eggs and bananas for breakfast – energy without cramps.” Right out of youth soccer, MacMillan is just one of a handful of fresh and moldable players that UFV has picked up for the 2012/2013 season.
Kickoff was at high noon on Saturday morning, but the heat didn’t seem to faze the boys on the pitch. Everyone had their mind on scoring as the right and left fullbacks made long dashes deep into the offensive zone, looking for a cross. The Cascades were battling as much against staying onside and making clean tackles as they were with the opposition. Strikers Sasa Plavsic and Craig Robinson made repeated attempts to hit the back of the net in the first half, testing the Langara keeper’s diving skills, only to come up scoreless at the end of 45 minutes.
With 14 new faces on the squad, they’d be expected to take a while to find a comfortable groove to play in. However, it didn’t take long – the boys came back on the pitch energized and ready for another half. Many new players are already making themselves known in the preseason. One example was Cam McKinnon, who held out a calming hand as he used the time he had to look up and make a smart controlled play from the back line. At about the 75 minute mark, the Cascades put a ball to the net low and left, and it gave them a one point lead. Immediately after, a free kick called in favour of UFV just outside the 18-yard box had the sideline spectators buzzing. Head coach Alan Errington drew my attention to Plavsic, who was lining up behind the ball.
“Watch this kick from Sasa; it’s two-nil now.” The man knows his players, and sure enough Plavsic sent the ball into the net, in the exact same spot as the previous goal. Relaxing on their 2-0 lead, the Cascades unfortunately allowed Langara to come back and tie the game. In the last 10 minutes, neither team seemed as concerned with scoring as they did with chipping away at the ankles of their checks. MacMillan did manage to pop the ball through from a corner kick, but it was unfortunately called offside and the game ended in a 2-2 draw. It seemed necessary to get an unbiased opinion on the new season’s squad, so I asked the referee for his thoughts on this year’s team. He said he was familiar with some of the more senior players, but of the team as a whole he said that the Cascades were the better team on the pitch: they had many more opportunities, but just let themselves down in the end. Despite that, their level of skill promises an exciting season.