By Lethbridge Herald on October 27, 2023.
By Justin Seward
The University of Lethbridge Pronghorns men’s soccer team are back in the playoffs this weekend for the first time in a little while.
“We always had it in the back of our mind but it wasn’t like the objective,” said head coach Davin Haigh, on guiding the team back to the postseason in only his second year at the helm.
“We wanted to not necessarily shy away from the possibility or that’s a reality we wanted to achieve. But there is always a step before. So we were focusing on the process and getting that all in line and we knew if we could follow the process and have those building blocks in place, then playoffs were inevitable. And we really left it to the last game but I think the guys are over the moon and it’s nice to see them get rewarded for their hard work.”
Haigh did not plan to make any substantial adjustments during the week leading up to Canada West playoffs.
“But it’s more along the lines of just getting the guys emotionally and mentally prepared because obviously they’re going to be putting pressure on themselves and pressure from the occasion. So just kind of letting them enjoy it,” said Haigh.
“And just reminding them that there’s not a whole lot we can do this week, apart from taking care of our bodies, making sure that our sleep is good and all the basics will set us up for success. But we can’t really change much in a week. It’s just making sure that we don’t take on any extra stress or any kind of injuries. It’s kind of just maintenance, we’re just doing maintenance and enjoying the moment.”
Haigh thinks the success will come from their leaders, and more particularly their seniors, in keeping the team emotions in check and level headed.
“So, some of them maybe on the bench, most of them will probably be on the field, but it’s just everyone playing a part,” he said.
“I think the bench is going to be huge. This season, we’ve always managed to use all of our subs pretty much. I think there is only two games we didn’t use all of our subs. So we really take a lot of pride in trusting our bench and maintaining our energy throughout the 90 (minutes), and keeping the focus up ,and keeping the intensity high, so then we can dictate what goes on and hopefully we end up getting the edge over UVic.”
With the season being condensed and the feeling of being such a race, Haigh said you’re trying to manage the aftermath of the season and still trying to get the best out of yourselves.
“So a lot of guys are carrying injuries but they’re going to play through it because they know the occasion and they know that sometimes it’s a once in a life time thing, said Haigh.
“But I think it’s just being able to find a way to enjoy it because of the fact that it’s so stressful on your body and your mind. And you can say that the stakes are high because you lose, you’re out. But (it) also kind of gives you a bit of energy because you know the possibility of going through the finals, whether its CanWest or the nationals, that you’re on route to that. So there is an added energy given to those emotions because you’re excited, because you’re stressed and I think it’s just one of those things ,you got to just try and manage it.”
The Horns open up the Canada West championship today, which is being hosted at Mount Royal University, against the University of Victoria Vikes at 10 a.m.
The other quarterfinal has Mount Royal Cougars versus the TRU Wolfpack at 1 p.m.
The semi-final is on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The other two quarterfinals are being hosted at UBC where the UBC Thunderbirds will play the University of Calgary Dinos and Trinity Western played the University of Alberta on Friday.
That semi-final goes Saturday night.
The Canada West final will be played next weekend.