The men's soccer team fared better than expected last year. With 13 rookies on the active roster, no one was expecting any miracles, but they still made the playoffs, losing to the University of Alberta Golden Bears in a 3-2 victory in the bronze medal match.
"I'm concerned that we may have overachieved and it's on our mind," said head coach Andy Gibbs. "We have to come out working hard still, and being a unit. They're cliches, but they're true."
The Canada West conference is best in the CIS at the moment, having won the last three national championships, last year's going to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, who the Dinos play in Vancouver in October. The University of Victoria Vikes won it in 2004 and the Bears won it in 2003.
However, with Gibbs at the helm, the Dinos will always be a competitive team--as long as they buy into his system.
"Our biggest change is we've gotten more mature," said Gibbs. "Next year is probably going to be the same situation. [We're going to try to] have a competitive year every year because the division is so damn competitive. Whoever wins Canada West has a chance to win the national--they've won it three years in a row. I think it's something like 20 out of 23 years they've been in the final."
Up front veteran Adam Macdonald, who already has two goals in a victory against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in this young season, will lead the way along with striker Carlos Cruz.
"We've got about five forwards who really need to start stamping their authority on the game," said Gibbs. "That's critical for us."
Gibbs also has faith in his three goalkeepers, including Jordan Wanner, who started the first two games and surrendered only a single goal.
"[We've got] three very talented goalkeepers," noted Gibbs. "It's a learning curve, they're student athletes. It's a learning situation for [the team] as well. [The team] will probably be leaders in their own soccer community."
With a more mature squad and last year's playoff spot fresh in mind, the Dinos should be challenging for a playoff spot come the middle of October.
They'll have it tough against a strong division, but if they find their rhythm early and avoid down games like the one they had against the Bears, they should be able to make it into the playoffs.