By Ryan Laverty
The University of Calgary Dinos men’s soccer team kicked off their season this weekend at Forest Lawn Athletic Field with a couple of convincing wins. While the team’s core is pretty much intact from last year, this is definitely not the same squad.
Saturday’s game saw our provincial rivals from Edmonton come to town and then saw them promptly get run out. A 3-1 victory to start the season gave the Dinos three points and some much deserved respect. Dinos’ forward Craig White notched the team’s first goal of the year against a fairly green University of Alberta side. Jon Remmer’s brilliant effort, picking up the ball on his own side of half, evading tackles and eventually blowing a shot by the Bears’ keeper, earned the second Calgary goal.
Dinos’ goalkeeper and team captain Mike Willis was forced to prove his ability late in the second half when a blown Calgary opportunity nearly turned into the tying goal for the U of A. An outstanding chance was met by Willis’ equally outstanding save. After Andrew Zakaluzny was hauled down inside the 18-yard box, Chris Maurer added the nail in the coffin by slotting the ball into the net on the ensuing penalty kick.
Sunday was a tougher game for the men when the University of Saskatchewan Huskies rolled into Calgary. Fresh off a loss to the University of Lethbridge, the Huskies were thirsting for blood. They could have taken the lead early, if not for Zakaluzny’s save on the goal line early in the first half. The Dinos played much of the first 45 minutes on their heels.
According to Head Coach Andy Gibbs, the Dinos were just not mentally ready for the start.
"After a huge victory yesterday, we had a little trouble not thinking about that and concentrating on today," he said.
It was apparent that Gibbs’ pep talk at halftime woke the lethargic Dinos because the team that came out in the second half was not the one fans saw in the first. Calgary came out fast and furious. They dominated the Huskies for the rest of the game and were rewarded with a goal in the 64th minute by Brian Newmarch on a cross from Maurer. The Huskies had their share of chances throughout the game but couldn’t beat Willis. A 1-0 final gave Calgary a 2-0 record and six points, equal to last year’s total for the season.
These two wins will prove to be extremely important for this Dinos team. With U of L hosting this year’s Canada West championship, Calgary must finish ahead of either the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, or the University of Alberta, as only the top three teams will qualify for the playoffs.
"I think last year gave us a knowledge of losing and that’s what will propel us to continue to win," Willis said.
With another year of experience and a couple more wins under their belts, these guys certainly could continue to win. Come see for yourself Saturday at 2:00 p.m. when the Dinos take on the U of L Pronghorns.