Before the 2018 Men's soccer season began, the team came together and came up with a couple of goals to strive for. One goal was placing third or higher in their division to qualify for this year's provincial tournament. Second goal was to end the regular season with a positive goal differential. They made these goals for themselves as a way to be on the same page, instill a team first mentality, UBUNTU, their team motto.
The season started off out in Grande Prairie, where the team was able to come out with four points (1 win and 1 tie). Team captain Kenan Helgren, looking back at that weekend, "Conditions were not pretty. When we got to GP, they were shoveling the fields. So playing on that surface was a big grind, both days." The team was a little disappointed in the result of that week, they thought that they could come out of it with two wins, but nevertheless, they were sitting without a loss after a tough weekend.
Weather played a major part throughout their season. With the snow and rain every weekend, the field condtiions were so poor, that the Eagles were not able to play on their home grass field. "It sucked, it was awful. It felt like you never had a home field advantage and it takes a toll on the team mentally. Almost like, we were on the road for the whole season." Helgren says about not playing on their field. Because of the conditions, almost every home game was played off-campus. But the team push through that and after a month, the team was 3-0-3, sitting in second place, going into the Thanksgiving break.
The toughest weekend for the team was yet to come, as they had to face the #1 team in their division, the NAIT Ooks. "NAIT, over the years, have had superstars, but this team was different. They were a better team overall," Kenan Helgren mentions about the Ooks. The Eagles knew this would be a tough weekend. Ultimately, the Ooks defeated the Eagles in both matches, but this did not worry them. The Eagles, knew if they stuck by each other these losses would just be minor blips in their season.
Going into the final weekend of the regular season, the Eagles added one more goal, "Finish of the season with two wins". They sat with a recorded of 3-2-3, which was good enough for third in the division. The team knew all they needed to clinch a provincial spot was to earn one point in the last set of games. "I was feeling pretty confident that we would get the six points, and set ourselves up for a provincial berth." Helgren talking about the final weekend. As well, for the first time, (and the last time), in the season, the Eagles were able to play on their own field. With the home field advantage, the Eagles were able to take that all important point against the UAA Vikings, as they beat them in the first game of the weekend and clinched the provincial berth.
In the final game, something went wrong, as Volkan Yasa, 5th year midfielder, was sent off for a questionable red card. "I thought it was a fair challenge, and I was wrongly booked. I would say in hind sight, I would not have made that tackle with how the game was being officiated." Volkan talking about his red card. With that card he was unable to play the rest of his final regular season game, and the first game in provincials. But again, the team rallied around that and knew they had to play as a team to do well, and hopefully let Yasa play once more in his ACAC career.
The provincial tournament was held in Calgary, by the SAIT Trojans. This was the second time in the program's history, that they had reached the provincial tournament, and they were all excited. "We felt it was a big achievement. The veterans on the team were happy for the young guys, because we made it once before." Yasa on reaching provincials. As the Eagles finished, 4-2-4, which was good enough for third place in the ACAC north division. This meant they had to play the second place team in the south division, the Lethbridge College Kodiaks.
The Kodiaks had three all-conference players, while the Eagles had none. But that was ok with the Eagles, because that just solidifies their team motto, of being about the team first. Once the game started, everyone knew the game would be tight throughout the whole game. In the first half, the Eagles were leading 1-0. In the second half, the Kodiaks came back, and ultimately won the game 3-1. The loss meant that the Eagles season came to an end. "Losing that game was heartbreaking. Putting in that work all season long, and everything riding on one game. It was a tough loss." Tosh Hartley, Goalie, reminiscing on the end of the season.
Now the team, will be looking forward as they begin to train for their Futsal season.
North Division Coach of the Year - Todd Van Driel
Second time reaching provincials
Highest CCAA rank - 11th
Placed third in ACAC North Division