Cougars Soccer: Kicking off strong
By Dan Khavkin, Sports Editor
While everyone was clocking in their final full-time hours at work or spending their last hours out in the sun, the boys in blue representing MRU kicked off the 2019 Canada West campaign in dominant and historic fashion by starting the season with a perfect 3-0 record.
The Cougars opened the campaign by giving the Calgary Dinos a 5-0 cross-town beatdown on Aug. 24 before dusting aside the Saskatchewan Huskies 2-0 under the lights on Saturday Aug. 31 before holding off the Lethbridge Pronghorns 3-1 on Sep. 1.
Mount Royal rookie Dane Domic absolutely shined during his Cougar debut with a goal and two assists during the rout of the Dinos, and has four points through the opening three matches.
The Cougars carried the momentum before the academic year began on Sept. 5 with two victories during the final weekend of the summer to finish a three-game homestand.
Cougar sophomore Moe El-Gandour scored during the 2-0 victory over the Huskies before he picked up a red card during the win.
The next afternoon, MRU dusted the Pronghorns in convincing fashion with a 3-1 win.
So far so good for Ryan Gyaki and his squad who start the season with three wins on the trot for the first time in program history and are already over half of last year’s win total.
MRU finished the 2018 season 5-9-1 last season before being ousted once again by the UBC Thunderbirds in the Canada West quarter-finals in an extra-time session last fall.
Coach Gyaki brings back 17 players from last year’s relatively young squad.
Third-year forward Orest Ndabaneze and second-year El-Gandour carried the load on offence with six points each last season. Ndabaneze finished as the Cougars’ leading scorer with five goals that went along with an assist.
Both players scored in the season opener.
El-Gandour finished his first season under an MRU kit with two goals that went along with a team-leading four assists.
Returning players Tysen Chatani and Berlin, Germany native David Schaefer also finished their rookie campaigns with two goals each. Chatani saw 10 starts last year to Schaefer’s six.
Veteran Rohin Nazri contributed with a goal and three helpers of his own.
The return of Justin Anderson-Louch will bolster the Cougars’ veteran presence as the midfielder saw a knee injury take him out of commision last season just minutes into the fresh 2018 season.
Foothills U23 stopper and Cougars captain Daniel Harrison looks to continue to guide the relatively young crop of players into continued MRU success.