MSOC | Kodiaks holding heads high after CCAA nationals

MSOC | Kodiaks holding heads high after CCAA nationals

Nov. 14, 2019 – Despite not breaking through for a victory, the Lethbridge College Kodiaks men’s soccer team is holding their heads high after a historic season and a fantastic experience at CCAA nationals in Oshawa, ON.

After dropping their first two games of the tournament, the ACAC champion Kodiaks faced ACAA champion Holland College (Charlottetown, PEI) in the seventh-place match on Saturday morning.

Without much gas left in the tank, an injury-riddled Kodiaks side suffered a 3-nil defeat to finish the tournament in eighth place. 

Kodiaks head coach Sean Carey suggested the rigors of a demanding, compact season may have finally caught up with his team in the final game.

“I thought the first half we definitely didn’t play well at all and we weren’t up for it, which was surprising really,” said Carey. “I don’t think the energy was quite there. There’s no excuses but with the end of the season, I think a lot of our energy was spent getting here.”

Carey used the opportunity to insert younger players into the lineup, giving them a taste of the increased skill level seen at nationals.

“I think some of these young guys getting that feel and getting on the field, seeing what it takes to play at this level, I think it’s great for the program moving forward,” said Carey. “These young guys are going to have to carry this team moving forward and I’m excited to work with them.”

A season to remember

In life, it’s worth putting everything in perspective.

53 men’s soccer teams competed in the CCAA across all conferences this season.

To be part of the final eight teams left standing is a massive accomplishment, especially knowing how hard the road is to get there.

Still, Kodiaks supporters can be forgiven for wondering what could have been after a heartbreaking loss in the CCAA national quarter final against VIU.

Lethbridge staged a dramatic comeback in that game, tying the match with less than ten minutes remaining thanks to a header off a set piece from Owen Beers.

The Kodiaks bench was in a frenzy and the game was just minutes away from going to penalty kicks.

Everyone knows anything can happen when a game goes to PKs.

But alas, the Mariners staged late dramatics of their own, sinking a shot from the top of the box just centimetres passed the sprawling arms of Kodiaks keeper Cody Ferguson.

The Mariners held on for a 2-1 win and would eventually reach the tournament final, where they would fall 3-2 to the host Durham Lords.

It was a crushing defeat for the Kodiaks, who didn’t look fully recovered the following day when they were handed a 3-0 loss by a quality Champlain side in the bronze quarter-final.

But ultimately, their nationals performance won’t be what’s remembered about this season.  

History will remember this Kodiaks team as the one that finally broke through and upset a powerhouse NAIT side to earn the first trip to CCAA nationals in program history.

History will remember the emotion and celebration of the following day, where the team defeated rival Red Deer College 2-0 to earn the first men’s soccer ACAC championship in Kodiaks history.

No player, coach or supporter will ever forget that day. 

History will also remember head coach Sean Carey being named the national men’s soccer coach of the year, adding to a trophy case that he’ll surely need to expand soon.

After all, he also won both ACAC men’s and women’s coach of the year honours (for the second year in a row). An unprecedented feat.

Not to be forgotten, history will remember midfielder Ben Knight being named a CCAA All-Canadian, joining Christine Moser from the Kodiaks women’s team as one of the few soccer players from Lethbridge College to earn the prestigious honour.

And it will sure be a special moment to see that ACAC championship banner hang forever in the Val Matteotti Gymnasium.

Up next

The Kodiaks will now turn their attention to the upcoming futsal season, but not before taking some quality time away from the game to recover and reset after the rigours of the season.

Quoting Carey – Thoughts from the Kodiaks Head Coach

On the nationals experience 

“The results weren’t where we were hoping but you don’t get any games off at this level. There are no easy routes through for goals, you have to work hard for them and there’s a lot of skill and creativity on the field with those other teams. They exploited a few things on us and kudos to them for that.

But overall, I think we showed well. We didn’t play our best game here. Injuries certainly had a factor but that’s true for every team. If our top players had been 100%, I think we would have been able to show a little better. Overall, the experience was excellent this week and it feeds the hunger to get back here again.”

On what it will take to get back to nationals next season

“It’s a lot of hard work again. It’s going to need a balanced team, desire and a team that refuses to lose. Some guys will have to step up. There will be lots of minutes to fill with retiring players, so it’s going to be a fun pre-season next year and I think some of these guys are ready for that next big step.”