Big Cats maul Rattlers
If the Mount Royal men’s and women’s soccer team’s ACAC home openers were any indication of the Cougars desire to win this season, they are as sharp and ferocious as their name suggests.
After a shaky preseason, the women’s team started things off with a two-goal shutout over the Medicine Hat Rattlers with Jessica Stewart taking player of the game honours. The win put the Lady Cougs at 2-0 on the season.
The men’s team followed with a 3-1 win over Medicine Hats putting them at .500 on the season so far. Kyle Yamada took player of the game kudos in that match.
The Cougars coaching staff is committed to instilling teamwork in this year’s squads.
“We’re looking to have the guys come together as a unit and then get on with business, which would be being as competitive as possible in what is a very tough conference in the ACAC South,” said the men’s new bench boss Troye Flannery.
“I think our long-term goal would be to get a national championship and win one.”
On the women’s side, new head coach Tino Fusco has equal desires, with focus starting at “improving on last year’s performance and getting into the playoffs to start, and hopefully reaching the national championship.”
The women’s team posted an 8-0-2 record last year but fell short in playoffs bringing home a bronze. The men’s team just missed taking home a medal, falling short 2-1 to Grant MacEwan in the bronze medal match.
Both Flannery and Fusco have been hard at work on assembling deep squads this season; squads that have a complementary fusion of established returning members and fresh talent.
Flannery said Chris Tilleman, Jamie MacDonald, Kyle Yamada, and Justin Farenik are players that really stand out for their skills and leadership abilities so far this year.
He also said that there is a “massive cast of young and new players that at any moment can be noticed as well.”
With 16 players returning to the 25-player women’s squad, Fusco has many options when it comes to choosing an effective starting lineup.
“One player, for me, doesn’t necessarily make a team,” he said. “The new players coming in definitely complement the veterans that are on the squad.”
This season also marks noticeable changes in some of last year’s most important roster spots. The top scorers for the men’s team of 2008, Milan Timotijevic (6 goals) and Santio Gaetano (5 goals) have moved on. For the lady cougars, goalkeeper Amanda Kremer and top striker Kim Kuijper (9 goals) are also not returning.
There are, however, elite members returning to both teams. Men’s ’tender Jamie Lindee (6-1-0) is primed to continue being a force in front of the net. Goalkeeper Rachel McConachy (7-0-2) and top-rate striker Brittney Ahearn (7 goals) are Cougars veterans that are well equipped to maintain and promote success with the rest of the talent on the women’s squad.
With eight scheduled regular-season games to come, the next few weeks are going to be challenges that will decide just where these two clubs will stand come playoff time.