Soccersaurs fall short of gold

By Lawrence Bailey

Buried under every victory celebration, outside every wide-angle, tears of joy scene lies the anguish of a hard-fought loss.

Fri., Nov. 2 saw the hometown team triumph, the hometown fans sing their praises and all who were present caught up in the drama of the moment. However, amidst all the celebration and collective euphoria was a scene much more real, much closer to home. The visiting team shuffled off the field, with their heads hung in exhaustion and defeat.

An up and down season for the University of Calgary men’s soccer team came to a gut-wrenching conclusion Nov. 2-3 at the Canada West playoffs in Victoria. Despite dominating the University of Victoria Vikings, when the final whistle blew Friday night the Dinos were on the wrong end of a 2-0 result.

"This is the best I’ve seen the Dinos play all year," said Vikes keeper and Calgary-native Jordan Robinson following his team’s victory. "They at least deserved a chance to prove themselves in extra time. They played an amazing game."

It was that kind of dominance that made the whole experience so much more painful for the soccersaurs–a team that entered the two-game playoff round brimming with confidence.

"I woke up at three in the morning and couldn’t get back to bed for two hours," said a distant Dinos midfielder Jon Yumol. "I couldn’t stop thinking about Friday’s game."

The result of Friday’s heartbreaker was a match up with the University of Alberta Golden Bears in the bronze medal game. The Dinos’ emotional letdown coupled with a hungry Bears team led to a 6-1 embarrassment and an 0-2, fourth-place finish. However, the weekend was lost to many Dinos players even before they took the pitch to face Alberta.

"They call it consolation, but it isn’t any consolation at all," lamented dejected Dinos midfielder Luis Morales. "We were out. Whether we came in third or fourth it didn’t matter. We wanted to be going to nationals and we aren’t."

The loss at the hands of the Golden Bears was a kick in the stomach to top off a painful weekend for the Dinos. However, the boys can’t be faulted for a lack of effort.

"We went out and played a great game," explained Dinos fullback Brian Newmarch after the loss to the Vikes. "We left it all on the field and we can take a lot of pride in that."

The weekend also proved a few things to the young squad. It showed them what they were capable of, what they could accomplish and it gave them a lot to aspire to next year.

"We know we can get to this point and we know we deserve to get further," stated Calgary midfielder Simon Codner. "This is just motivation–we’re going to build on it."

What could have been a small consolation for a U of C squad that went to the Island with one goal in mind–making nationals. Once the dust settled and everyone had a chance to step back and analyze the aftermath, the words of Head Coach Andy Gibbs rang clear.

"We came to a significant moment in our season and failed to deliver. We have a good team, we just had some dead moments."

G-G-G-Goal Notes:

Despite their collective woes over the weekend, the Dinos garnered some personal accolades worth noting. Newmarch was named a Canada West First-Team All-Star while Morales and striker "Réal" David Hernandez were both awarded Second-Team honours. The Dinos also received the Fair Play Award for team sportsmanship and Gibbs was named Coach of the Year.

"It shows that as a coach he’s done well with not necessarily the most skilled team this year," said midfielder Andrew Zakaluzny. "You can be the worst coach with the best players and still do well, but to get the best out of your players is a true accomplishment."

Zakaluzny also pointed out the triumph of the Tigers for the second straight week, as they tallied the lone goal of the weekend, scored by Diggler himself.

Leave a comment