Finally, some competitive soccer

Wesmen soccer players excited by challenge CIS will bring

Adam Bromley. Cindy Titus/Uniter Archives

The University of Winnipeg Wesmen soccer teams are looking forward to lacing up their cleats and playing a more competitive brand of footie this season.

On Friday, Sept. 7, both the men’s and women’s soccer teams will play their first games at the CIS level - a debut that’s been a long time coming for the frustrated players and coaches on each squad.

Both the men’s and women’s teams have spent the last two years playing in the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference, a league featuring inter-squad play between the province’s smaller colleges and universities.

“We’ve gone two years undefeated in the MCAC, which is quite a feat,” said men’s team captain Adam Bromley.

“At the end of the day, the competition wasn’t quite good enough to really test us.”

Last season, the women’s team smacked their opponents around with ease, outscoring them 54-1 during the regular season.

“Playing those teams didn’t necessarily help us,” said team captain Sheri Hince.

“Those games in the MCAC were a kick-around for us. I’m very, very excited to play in the CIS.”

For the Wesmen to land on the CIS circuit and play the best talent this country has to offer, every Canada West conference school was required to unanimously vote to let the teams in.

Last season, one school voted against their inclusion.

“We came into a situation with Canada West, where they’re making a lot of changes,” explained Doran Reid, athletic director for the Wesmen.

“Schools are looking to be added and there are a lot of criteria for how many teams the schools are allowed to have compete.”

Canada West stuck to the criteria, refusing to budge and nudge up the Wesmen soccer debut from fall 2012, despite the two squads’ dominance of the MCAC, Reid said.

Despite their relative lack of experience at the national level, having only played exhibition matches against CIS and NCAA teams south of the border, both teams are confident.

“We’ve recruited well this year and the playoffs are very much within our reach,” said Bromley.

“There’s no doubt that we’re going into this season as underdogs, but if everyone pulls together and we have no injury trouble, talent-wise we have enough to succeed.”

In a press conference last year, women’s head coach Mick Gale went so far as to guarantee his team will make the playoffs, or he’ll walk.

But Hince isn’t showing that amount of confidence yet.

“We’re still a new team and haven’t connected with each other the way we’ll need to at this level,” she said.

“Hopefully that can happen very soon.”

On Sept. 7, the women’s team will host the Manitoba Bisons at 6 p.m. The men’s team will host the Saskatchewan Huskies at 8 p.m.

Both games will be played at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex at 900 Waverley St.

Published in Volume 67, Number 1 of The Uniter (September 5, 2012)

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