Home heartbreak for Trojans soccer Women win silver, men bronze at ACAC soccer championships
Both SAIT Trojans soccer teams fell short of gold, but still medalled, at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conferences (ACAC) championships, held at SAIT from Oct. 25-28.
The women’s team won silver, while the men managed to win bronze after an upset loss in the semi-finals.
Silver, and on to nationals for women’s team
The women’s soccer team, undefeated in the regular season, fell crushingly short of gold, losing 2-1 in overtime in the Oct. 28 championship game against the NAIT Ooks.
Despite their disappointment, by making the ACAC final, they moved on to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) National Championship, held Nov. 6-19 in Coquitlam, B.C., as a wild-card team.
In the ACAC final, women’s head coach John Talerico believes that the team played well, but “didn’t take opportunity of all of our chances.”
“We played the way we’ve been doing all year, moving the ball around,” said Talerico.
In their first game, the undefeated Trojans played the third-ranked Lethbridge College Kodiaks.
The Trojans had a dominant performance, eliminating the Kodiaks from the tournament in a 3-0 win.
After a dominant semi-final performance against the Lethbridge Kodiaks, the Trojans faced the NAIT Ooks for gold.
Talerico was expecting a tough one-goal game, since NAIT, like the Trojans, went undefeated in the regular season.
“Someone’s got to give,” Talerico said.
The game didn’t start in the Trojans’ favour, with NAIT taking a 1-0 lead in the first half.
Talerico said that the team was nervous in the first half, and they could see it. He added that NAIT had “more control.”
The Trojans shook off their nervousness in the second half, with middle Deanna Kuan scoring the game-tying goal, leading to two nail-biting overtime periods.
Talerico thought the team was gaining a little bit of momentum going into overtime.
This momentum was not enough, however, as NAIT’s Yuri Akotso scored in the 109th minute.
“We had a few chances that I thought we put away, but they just didn’t go in,” Talerico said.
On the other hand, one of the few chances NAIT had, they scored, the coach added.
Deanna Kuan, a third-year player who scored in both playoff games, said the Trojans’ inexperience hurt them.
“For quite a few of us, it was our first time in the final game. And with NAIT, a majority of their players have played for three or four years; they’ve been there every year,” she said.
Despite having to settle for silver, Talerico is proud of the team, and thought they played “fantastic” in both games.
“I thought we were prepared better than we were ever before in any of the tournaments in the past, it felt good,” Talerico said.
Kuan, middle for the Trojans, believed that sticking to rudimentary elements of the game insured their success in the tournament.
“I think everyone [had] the mindset of ‘you know what, whether or not it was a game to go to nationals, or the first game of the season, just do the basics and be there for each other,” said Kuan.
It was the women’s team’s best finish since 2002, when they won gold.
Men’s team settles for bronze
Like the women’s team, the men’s team was also undefeated in the regular season; however, a disappointing semi-final loss forced them to play for bronze.
They did not disappoint their home fans in the bronze-medal game, however, edging the Lethbridge College Kodiaks 3-2 in penalty kicks.
Earlier, they were shocked 1-0 by Concordia University of Edmonton (6-2-2), also in penalty kicks.
It was the second straight ACAC bronze medal for the men’s team.