By Woodard, Dale on November 5, 2019.
As of Saturday afternoon, it was still all sinking in for the Lethbridge College Kodiaks men’s soccer team.
Less than a week removed from capturing the college’s first men’s soccer Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference title, the Kodiaks were out on the pitch at the University of Lethbridge Stadium for one more practice before taking on their next – and final – challenge.
That, of course, is the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championship in Oshawa, Ont., as the Kodiaks open against Vancouver Island University Mariners in the quarter-final Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., local time.
“I think for a lot of the guys it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Kodiaks co-coach Mark Pries. “I think Sunday when we’re travelling to the airport and getting on the plane. I think once we get the training and when the game happens, I think that’s what it’s going to kind of sink in that we’re here and we did it.”
After the excitement of last weekend’s ACAC gold, there was a quick rebound and time to refocus.
“There was a lot of celebrating. I think it’s starting to sink in, but we have to go to nationals so we have to get up again,” said Kodiaks first-year forward Owen Beers.
The past week was equal part resting as it was celebrating.
“We gave the guys a bunch of days off, there was a bunch of guys beat up and still pretty sore. We had a quick session on Thursday and it went well,” said Pries. “So (Saturday) we’re getting out and getting some quick touches in and then will train a couple times in Ontario.”
Among the questions marks are fifth-year defender Joel Arrieus and second-year forward Sodiq Adekunle.
“I think they were going to be a couple guys who are going to be close on whether they’re able to go or not. I think as we get closer to game day everybody will hopefully be available,” said Pries.
Thanks to the ACAC banner, there are still some games on the slate, and big ones.
“To be playing, I guess it means were the best team Lethbridge College has ever put together,” said Kodiaks captain Ben Knight. “But it’s a testament to the hard work these guys have put in. Defensively, we were the best team in the ACAC and hopefully we can take that into nationals and score a couple of goals. It’s been working out so far.”
Come Wednesday, the Kodiaks will stick with the game plan that has gotten them this far.
“Honestly, we’ve got a really solid game,” said Beer. “We’re very good defensively and if we can get a few goals we shouldn’t lose too many teams, hopefully no teams.”
That will start with a Mariners team the Kodiaks have minimal knowledge of.
“They have a Player of the Year for the Pac West on their squad,” said Pries. “So we know we have to watch out for him and they have a couple other guys that scored seven or eight goals. Just by looking at stats we kind of figured out who we have to watch once kickoff happens. We will just go out and play.”
“It’s probably the biggest game any of us of ever played in our lives,” added Knight. “It’s going to be a different experience. I don’t know anything about Vancouver Island at all. I know they won it a couple years ago, that’s it. But none of those players are back, so who knows. It’s just going to be something different, a new challenge and hopefully we can rise to that.”
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