High hopes for inexperienced teams

By Mike Attersall

As a new semester dawns, we become excited about all the new faces and people we expect to meet in our classes. But as an athlete the one thing you count on is the familiarity you have built with your teammates and the bond you share with them. After all, it’s the bond that brings the team strength, ultimately leading to a successful season and championship hopes.

What do you do when the season begins and half the faces on the field are new and unfamiliar? Where is the bond? Where is the chemistry? Where’s Brian Newmarch?

These are the questions plaguing both the Dinos men’s and women’s soccer teams, and the problem both Head Coaches Robin Slot (of the women) and Andy Gibbs (of the men) have to deal with.

"It will definitely be a learning year," said Slot. "We have lost a lot of depth, but I’m hoping that the recruitment of a talented set of new rookies will help with that."

Men’s Head Coach Andy Gibbs can relate.

"For us this will be a year to make an understanding of what it’s like to be a student athlete, instead of leaving that for the players to find out in their later years".

This year’s recipe for success will be quite different for both teams.

"This won’t be like in years past when we would have been able to ride on talent like most of the teams in our division," said Slot. "We will have to keep working hard and hope that the team stays healthy in order to be competitive".

If you thought having only eight ladies return and 12 rookies join the squad would make it tough for a coach to put a roster together, wait until you hear about the men’s team.

Gibbs is carrying 28 players at the moment, 14 are rookies and of the 14 returning, eight are in only their second year.

With both teams short veteran players, one would think a playoff berth would be the least of their worries, but playoffs are always the first goal for any team and this season is no different for the Dinos. Both teams will be in tough though, vying for one of the three available playoff spots in the Canada West.

The fourth berth in both cases goes to host schools, the University of Lethbridge for the women and the University of Saskatchewan for the men–both known as traditionally weaker teams.

So who is going to lead these teams?

Slot puts it on all the starters.

"Everyone will need to contribute who is on the field," he explained.

For the men it will come down to the ‘Fab Five,’ Gibbs’ veterans: Colin Smith, John Yumol, Jon Remmer, Matt ‘Heart and Soul of the Dinos’ Houston, and Freddy ‘The Belgian’ DeCaigny. It will be up to them to help lead such a young team by example. If these boys can take this young but talented team all the way, then it’s dinner on Gibbs–drinks included.


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