Sports

Vikings soccer clubs look towards new season

By Ryan Stelter, Camrose Canadian

Elsa Shoepp of the University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings women's soccer team fights off Lakeland College defender in preseason action in Camrose, Alta. on Sunday. Augustana won 5-0. Ryan Stelter/Camrose Canadian

Elsa Shoepp of the University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings women's soccer team fights off Lakeland College defender in preseason action in Camrose, Alta. on Sunday. Augustana won 5-0. Ryan Stelter/Camrose Canadian

The University of Alberta-Augustana Viking soccer teams are gearing up for another season.

 

The Vikings played a couple preseason games this past weekend at home, with the women's soccer team taking on Lakeland College on Sunday, and the men's team playing Red Deer College.

The women won 5-0, with Tara Berger scoring four of the five goals in a dominant display. Coach Paul Stone said they are a much more skilled team than last year.

"We've got a lot more skill than we did last year, we got a lot more skill up top, we keep possession better up top," he said. "That's a big key for us, we're improving every year, and with the additions of Jessica Lalonde, Elsa Schoepp, Demi Vermeer, we've got an attack now. Girls are finding their roles, and that's what we're finding out."

The aforementioned trio were dynamic on Sunday in their win against Lakeland, with Lalonde and Vermeer constantly harassing Lakeland's fullbacks. Recruiting is always a tough job for Stone, but he appears to have found some offensive firepower.

"It's always difficult, I talk to about 75-80 girls a year and you end up with about four or five, and that's just the odds, it's just the way it is," he said.

The Vikings will be looking to improve on a 1-6-3 record from last season, but it'll be tough, with division rivals Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and Grand Prairie Regional College reaching nationals last season.

"I think these girls are capable of scoring more, and one of our goals is score more and to push the better teams more and see where we're at," he said. "We keep finishing one spot out of the playoffs every year and it's a tough division in the north. We just want to show better, and I think we've got the squad to do that."

Another team looking to show better this year is the Viking men's soccer team.

"Our goal is to hit the playoffs, that's the number one thing and to do that we got to beat three other teams to get there, to get into that last playoff spot," said head coach Tom McManus after a 2-1 loss to Red Deer. "I believe we can do it, they came back with the fitness a little bit better than last year, and I think all the other guys coming in I think they're going to be fit and could be ready."

The Vikings don't have the technical ability to play a possession style game, and McManus says he can't definitely say how his team will play this year.

"It's going to be a mixture this year, the players, some aren't technically quite there with some of the other teams that we're playing," he said. "So, at times we have to play a long ball, which I hate personally. I like possession, knocking it around keeping it together, play from the back. I'm going to try and do a bit of both."

The Vikings have some exciting young recruits in the form of Ethan Miller at right back, and local kid Travis Dolter. The Vikings also have a fresh face in goal, in Joesph Wagner.

"I'm impressed with [Dolter's] speed and ability, all he's got to do is believe in himself and he'll be fine," McManus said. "Joey is very raw, he never actually played in goal before, so he's doing a super job and working hard."

The Vikings soccer teams begin their season on Sept. 9 with a road game against NAIT, followed by a home game on Sept. 10 against Concordia University of Edmonton.

rstelter@postmedia.com  



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