While most college students are getting back into the groove of daily train-ing, the NAIT Ooks soccer squads have been operating in game mode for several weeks. NAI T soccer had another successful season campaign in 2014, with both teams winning their respective ACAC championships, however, both left nationals with some disappointment. The women’s team dropped their only match of the season in a 0-3 loss in the national championship tilt, while the men finished fourth for the second year in a row; falling in penalty kicks. Both squads are highly motivated to return
to the national stage again.
“We would like to improve on back to back fourth place finishes at nationals, losing in extra time and penalties,” said men’s coach Charles O’Toole. “If we could get past that first game and get rid of the nerves, we could be quite successful.”
The women are also motivated. “Like last year, our expectation is to compete for the ACAC banner again and hopefully represent the conference at the CCAA national championships,” said women’s head coach Carole Holt. “We have a lot of work to do in order for that to happen but our team has been working very hard and they have demon- strated a great commitment to improving every day.” Despite a few losses from last year’s roster, Holt is excited about the current recruiting class that includes Marissa Webb, Kassandra Jajczay, Mia Agustin Simon and keeper Kailey Harder. Just as important are the changes the coaches have made in preparation of the upcoming season.
“Going into this year, the coaching staff have made some adjustments to how we will prepare this year and we will depend on those returning players to provide the leadership we need to the new players,” said Holt. “We will need everyone contributing in order to give us another chance.”
The men are also dealing with adjustment to a new fall of competition. Gone are all-stars Harris Kevac and Bruno Zebie, who helped anchor the conference championships. Coming in to replace them are Sebastian Cabrera and Edm Mortotsi, who coach O’Toole is confident will step into those spots.
“They are very comparable in skill level. While we will miss Harris and Bruno, Sebastian and Edm will fit in nicely.” Both squads open the
season against the Augustana Vikings, a program in its second year of ACAC soccer but vastly improved from the teams that were drubbed last year by both Ooks squads. Hard work during the preseason should help NAIT’s footy teams, particularly the women, who will take on three CIS schools. “It was very good for us to get excellent competition leading into the season,” said Holt. “The speed of play and physical aspect of the games really challenged us so we have learned a lot already and we are looking forward to get- ting into our season.”
The action kicks off for the women at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, with the men following after at 6 p.m. Both teams then host the Keyano Husk- ies two days later on Sunday. Start time for the women that day is at noon with the men kicking off at 2 p.m.