MRU Cougars soccer seniors day
Emotional weekend for graduating seniors wrapping up Cougar careers
By Dan Khavkin, Sports Editor
On Oct. 14, both Mount Royal men and women’s soccer teams took part in their annual Seniors Day ceremonies in appreciation for graduating fourth and fifth-year students.
The ceremonies were held after the first game of the scheduled double-header that featured the women’s team playing hosts to the Victoria Vikes and the men playing the Lethbridge Pronghorns shortly after.
A 0-0 draw was played against a formidable Vikes squad on an early and windy Saturday morning who are second in the Pacific Division, while the men won a dramatic 3-1 match against the ‘Horns, their first win at Cougar Stadium Field on the year.
Next match day, the women’s team drew an exciting 3-3 match with the UBC Thunderbirds while the men toughed out a 1-1 draw against second place Saskatchewan Huskies for the final home games of the 2017/2018 season.
Both Cougar teams have secured playoff births after their matches.
This would mark the men’s fourth trip to the post-season in program history while it will be a third consecutive appearance for the women’s.
Women’s bench boss Tino Fusco stated after the Victoria match “I think it’s important to pick up points on any day but today especially, we want the seniors to go away feeling like they contributed some factor and they did that today.”
Fusco influenced his team to a 4-4-6 record heading into the playoffs where his side will face the MacEwen Griffins.
The women’s team honoured five seniors who will be moving on with not only their athletic careers, but also educational. Defender Brianna Kiel and Bailey Duncan were honoured along with forwards Navroop Virk, Hailey Lafave and captain Emily Sands.
“We all wanted to give 100 per cent for our last game stepping on this field for the last time, I think we did a great job at that,” Sands commented after the Vikes game.
It was an emotional ride for the Science program student here at MRU.
“It hit me on the bench, it’s just unbelievable that we’re done and it was such an amazing experience.”
In his third year as coach, Ryan Gyaki also lead his team to a 4-6-4 record heading into the playoffs.
Men’s team head coach Gyaki commented post-match against Lethbridge noting, “It’s nice to win at home but on Seniors Day it sure is special, it is a very emotional moment. Some of these guys know that it will be their second last time playing on this field and wearing Cougar jerseys.”
Men’s captain Jeff Blake and fellow center-half Ryan Clancy were the honorees on the squad.
Blake was the lone scorer for MRU in the second match in their draw against Saskatchewan.
“It was pretty awesome… it was a special moment with all the emotions running knowing it’s my final home game,” Blake commented after the game.
The fifth-year business student felt reminiscent stating, “It hasn’t settled in yet but I know it’s going to hit me and it’s going to hurt,” on wearing a Cougar kit for the last time at home.
Both Cougar teams will be looking forward to making a deep run in the playoffs and rewrite history, as neither men’s nor women’s soccer have made it past the first quarter-final round.