June 22nd, 2024

Every game’s important for the Kodiaks

By Dale Woodard on September 16, 2021.

No bad games.

As they head into their abbreviated Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season, the Lethbridge College Kodiaks men’s soccer team is fully aware one off-day on the pitch could prove detrimental.

After losing their 2020 ACAC season to the COVID-19 pandemic, the defending champion Kodiaks start their shortened regular season six-game sprint Friday when they head to Red Deer to face the Kings.

Game 2 of the short season comes back to the Servus Sports Centre Sunday afternoon when the Olds Broncos pay a visit at 4 p.m.

And if they wish to defend their title, no warning is necessary about the potential damage one off-game can bring in a six-game season.

“We have to make sure we’re firing on all cylinders right away,” said Kodiaks co-coach Mark Pries. “You don’t want to drop any points. Every point is so crucial because our goal is to finish in the top-two and get a bye into the (ACAC) semifinal. So any dropped points are huge. We have to make sure we’re getting maximum points all of the time.”

First up in that test is the Kings, the same team the Kodiaks went to Nationals with back in 2019.

“Everybody is excited,” said Pries. “We’re all looking forward to the bus trip on Friday going up to Red Deer. We have some history with Red Deer, going to nationals with them. So it’s kind of a rematch of the championship game. We want to go up there and get a good result and we need a good result right away with only six games.”

Kodiaks second-year wing Easton Beaulieu was part of that Kodiaks crew that headed to Oshawa, Ont. for nationals almost two years ago.

He’s aware they have less regular season games this fall to make a repeat ACAC title and another trip to nationals a reality.

“There is no room for error,” said the local product. “If we want to make a proper run, you pretty much can’t lose a game. It’s half a season, so there’s no room to make up against certain teams if you falter. You pretty much have to be in it every weekend. I think it’s good, it keeps everybody involved and hopefully it bleeds into practice, keeping the intensity up. The season is basically six weeks.”

The shortened season also means minimal knowledge about their opponents.

“We’ve tried to scout and find out some other information on schools,” said Pries. “But I think it just fires up the boys knowing they have to play well right away and the full 90 minutes. So that’s exciting. The guys are ready.”

As they eye a repeat title and another trip to nationals, Beaulieu looked back on the 2019 season that earned the Kodiaks both those things.

“The year was like a blur,” he said. “That season started and we knew we had a good chance of doing something good, we had a pretty solid team. We ended up at nationals. What you can take away is what it takes. I’ve said it to this team multiple times now. There were players who we played against that were more skilled with the ball, but as 11 core people on the field not many teams wanted to win more than we did. It took us a long way.”

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