The defending ACAC men’s and women’s soccer champions opened up their respective seasons on the NAIT pitch this past weekend. The home opener was on Friday night against the Augustana Vikings and the next games took place on Sunday afternoon against the host of the men’s 2015 ACAC championships, the Keyano College Huskies. The women took their two contests 4-0 and 1-0 respectively, while the men split the weekend; winning 5-0 over the Vikings and losing 2-0 to Keyano.
In the home opener for the women, all of the action in the opening 45 minutes was limited to a Kayla Michaels penalty kick goal to make it a 1-0 game at the half. The Ooks turned on the heat in second half and struck twine three times, thanks to goals from Mia Austin, Wendy Abramenko and reigning CCAA player of the year, Michaels, with her second tally.
The second game for the women was a chilly one to say the least with the temperature at kickoff being 10 C, with a decent wind blowing. The first half was heavily dominated by the Ooks and most of the action took place on Huskies’ goalkeeper Haley Craddock’s side of the pitch. The Ooks finally struck with only one minute remaining in the first half with a shot to the right corner of the Keyano net by firstyear midfielder Marissa Webb. It was somewhat status quo in the second half as both teams failed to get on the score sheet and the Ooks held on for the shutout victory.
“We got two wins and we did not concede a goal, so we are really pleased about that,” said head coach Carole Holt. “We are still moving people around to see what works best and we have versatile players that have been very responsive to the adjustments we have made. We have a lot of work to do but we are moving in the right direction” The men stepped up to the challenge of following suit after the women with a rout of the Vikings. Midfielder Luis de la Torre Navarro was the player of the game with four goals and freshman Austin Northcott also chimed in with the fifth goal to seal the deal for the boys.
On Sunday afternoon the men faced off against Keyano and dropped that game 2-0 to fall to 1-1 on the year. Coach Charles O’Toole said after the game that a poor start was a major reason for the loss. “We came out rather flat and Keyano was able to capitalize early,” he said. “We then pushed the game for a bit with Igi Broda having the best chance. It was a good test for us and now we know we are going to be in a battle every game. So, we will take each game as they come and look to improve on our performance.”
Both Ooks squads are back in action this Saturday and Sunday against the King’s College Eagles. The Eagles’ women’s team sits 0-2 after its opening weekend while the men swept their series against Grande Prairie and Concordia. Kickoff on Saturday is 2 p.m. at NAIT for the women, with the men following at 4 p.m. Sunday, both squads drive across town to King’s where the match times are 4 and 6 p.m. respectively.