After a rusty start in week one, NAIT’s soccer squads were looking to improve the following week against the King’s University College Eagles. The two defending champion clubs did that and more in a four-game sweep of their crosstown rival.
The women shelled the Eagles’ keepers 5-1 and 11-1, while the men pitched a two-game shutout, 3-0 and 5-0. NAIT’s women maintain their undefeated record over ACAC teams to 16 (dating back to Sept. 6, 2014), while the gents improve to 3-1. On Friday, the Ook women’s offence was active from the start, with crisp passing that helped NAIT maintain possession throughout the contest.
Third-year forward Kassy Jajczay notched a hat-trick in the first half, while Wendy Abramenko and Jenn Perry added tallies in the second and Kailey Harder earned the W. Though the Ooks missed on several other great scoring chances, head coach Carole Holt was pleased with the effort, particularly from players coming off the bench. “It’s so important that we get everyone contributing and they did just that,” Holt said.
Saturday, NAIT seemed to make up for all of the missed opportunities the previous evening, taking advantage of the available chances. Sharp shooting from fifth-year Kayla Michaels put the Eagles out of reach early as the Ooks led 5-1 going into the second half, when things opened up even more. Michaels finished with four goals and five assists, Abramenko had a hat-trick, Jajczay added a pair and Harder got the win once again.
In total, the Ooks had six different goal scorers over the course of the weekend. “We combined well in tight spaces around the goal,” said Holt. “We still have a lot to work on but seemed to be moving in the right direction.” The men, meanwhile, had a tougher game on Friday than their female counterparts. A vastly improved King’s squad pushed the Ooks, hitting a goal post in each half.
However, third year Julian Gonzalez gave NAIT an early lead, pouncing on a Luis Navarro produced rebound and Igi Broda and Sebastian Cabrera gave the Ooks insurance in the second half. Head coach Charles O’Toole was complimentary of the opposition and of his own team for staying the course. “This is the best King’s team in a long time. However, once we got ourselves settled, we were able to play more to our potential,” he said.
NAIT’s male footy players wouldn’t allow the Eagles the same tense, close contest the following day. Great execution on offence led to a Gonzalez hat-trick in the opening 45 minutes. Cabrera and Jeshua Calderon added tallies in the second half, while keeper Ryan Gillie picked up his third shutout of the season. The Ooks also played a variety of players during the match, giving some players a chance to rest and others a chance to get game experience.
“It allows us to nurse players back into the swing of things from injury and gives guys who haven’t played as much a chance to prove themselves,” said O’Toole. Next up for NAIT’s footy phenoms is a road tilt in Camrose against the Augustana Vikings. Only in year two as an ACAC program, both Vikings squads were blown out by the Ook’s in NAIT’s season opener, but both Ook coaches are preaching consistency on their respective sides of the field. The women are up first at 12 p.m. on Sept. 26, with the men following at 2 p.m.