Sept. 22, 2019 – The Kodiaks men’s soccer team used a six-point weekend to propel them to the top of the ACAC south division standings.
With each match holding critical importance in the short 12 game season, the Kodiaks improved their record to 4-1 with a 3-0 road win at Olds on Saturday, followed by a tense 2-1 victory at home versus previously undefeated SAIT on Sunday.
Jimmy Bukuru had a four-goal weekend that included a natural hat-trick on Saturday, while Cody Ferguson made a series of game changing saves in both games.
The wins pull the Kodiaks into a tie for first with the Trojans, although just two points separate first and fourth place in the ACAC south division, with Red Deer College and Medicine Hat College also in the hunt. Only the top three teams make the ACAC postseason tournament.
The Kodiaks reach the official halfway point of their season on Saturday when they travel to Medicine Hat to take on the rival MHC Rattlers. They return home Sunday for a home contest against the Ambrose Lions.
Sept. 21, 2019 – Kodiaks 3 at Olds College 0
Recap written with files from Olds College Sports Information
It was a game the Kodiaks desperately needed to win, yet the tension for the visitors grew as the match remained scoreless entering the 69th minute.
That’s when the combination of Cody Ferguson and Jimmy Bukuru turned the game around and spurred the Kodiaks to a crucial victory.
A resilient Olds team had kept the Kodiaks offence at bay throughout the first half. The Broncos then nearly broke through for the game’s first goal when a clever through-pass resulted in a breakaway for Old’s leading scorer Fabian Gromenida.
Ferguson, the Kodiaks keeper who never seems to be out of position, displayed no fear and aggressively challenged, making a truly game saving stop.
The play quickly turned down the field, with Kodiaks forward Owen Beers sending Jimmy Bukuru in for his own breakaway.
Whereas Gromenida couldn’t convert, Bukuru made no mistake, bringing a rush of relief to the Kodiaks bench.
Bukuru wasn’t done, scoring less than two minutes later to double the Kodiaks lead.
Using his deft left-footed touch, Bukuru then knotted the natural hat-trick in the 84th minute after turning around a nice pass from Tyler Bolen and firing a laser past Bronco’s keeper Ryan Murphy.
The shots favoured Olds by a mark of 19-16, with Murphy making eight saves for Olds and Ferguson making ten saves for Lethbridge.
Sunday, Sept. 22 – SAIT Trojans 1 at Kodiaks 2
The Kodiaks returned home on Sunday for a much anticipated with the undefeated SAIT Trojans.
Seeking revenge for last year’s bronze medal defeat, the Kodiaks came out strong and captured the game’s first few chances. Both teams played extremely aggressive, with fouls repeatedly halting play.
The Trojans drew first blood in the 29th minute, courtesy of an unfortunate Kodiaks penalty. Lethbridge defender Joel Arreius struck a Trojan player with an errant high right foot inside the penalty area. Martin Bertolesi buried the shot bottom right corner to give SAIT the early lead.
The Kodiaks rebounded and tied the game just five minutes later, however, courtesy of a goal mouth scramble. Kodiaks captain Ben Knight crossed the ball into the 18-yard box where there was a chaotic scramble amongst players. Sodiq Adekunle was able to get the last touch and propel the ball into the net to tie the game.
The intensity of the game only increased as both teams kept playing a physical brand of soccer. The Kodiaks struck again just before half on a similar play to their first goal. On a free kick from Knight, Kodiaks forward Owen Beers headed the ball past Trojans keeper and onto the foot of Jimmy Bukuru, who buried his first goal of the game and fourth of the weekend.
The second half featured heightened intensity, but the Kodiaks maintained good offensive pressure and limited the Trojans to just a few quality chances. Yellow cards started to fly on both sides, but in the end the Kodiaks were able to hold on for a much deserved 2-1 win.
Lethbridge will now look to strengthen their hold on a playoff spot with two games this weekend. The squad will head to Medicine Hat on Saturday to face the rival MHC Rattlers, before returning home Sunday to take on the Ambrose Lions. Game time on both days is at 2 p.m. and admission to Sunday’s home game at Servus Centre Field is free for all ages.
About those photos from last weekend...
Photos from last Sunday's game against SAIT are available on the Kodiaks Flikr account.