Tino’s ready to go
Replacing Ian Fuge, the 14-year bench boss for the Mount Royal Cougars women’s soccer team, is no easy task but Tino Fusco is up for the challenge.
Fusco spent one year with the men’s soccer team in 2006-2007 and worked as an assistant behind Fuge during the lady Cougars’ run to the ACAC bronze medal last season.
“What really makes the program is the players,” said the humble coach. “I really want to continue building towards something special. This is an exciting time to be an athlete at Mount Royal with a potential CIS role on the horizon.”
Fusco explained that while Fuge’s style was a bit more on the reserved side, he tends to put the pressure on players to help them achieve their goals.
“Ian really empowered the players to play at their best potential. He was really able to connect with them on a personal level,” Fusco said. “Now I have got to get in there and earn their trust and respect.”
After posting an impressive regular-season record of 8-0-2 in the regular season — which saw the Cougars only concede two goals while netting 47 of their own — Fusco said it was a bit of a disappointment to not earn gold during the ACAC finals in Edmonton.
“This team is experienced, they have been to provincials and ran into some bad luck,” Fusco said. “Now this season we want to solidify our division and then get up to Edmonton because I think some of those teams are a bit harder to handle, they are pretty spectacular.”
Adding to that experienced roster — which includes two-time defending ACAC female athlete of the year Ashley Dixon — will be a slew of new players, including a batch of rookie goaltenders who will look to learn behind fifth-year keeper Rachel McConachy. Fusco likely holds a great deal of expertise in this area of the pitch after most recently leading the goalkeeper curriculum at the National Sport Academy in Calgary.
“In the college ranks you really have to take it game by game. My longevity as coach is really up to the college,” Fusco said of his future with the Cougars.
He encouraged any new players interested in the program as well as alumni to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The team hopes to organize an alumni challenge as a warm-up before the season begins.
The lady Cougars will likely open camp in mid-August.