By Rob South
Crash. Bang. Wallop! As this writer walks across the university soccer fields, he can almost hear the sounds of the long ball soccer the Men’s soccer Dinosaurs will force on their opponents this season. With the long ball style of play combined with a new play-off format, the use of wing-backs and a much younger team, soccer fans can expect an exciting season.
Coach Andy Gibbs explains the use of long-ball.
"With home games, our field is very thin and requires a direct type of game."
For those who don’t posses a tactical knowledge of soccer, long ball is a style of play where the defenders hammer the ball through the air as far up field as possible, while the midfielders and strikers crash the net to try and bring down the ball and punch it home.
However, when the Dinos are on the road, they will incorporate more passing and build-up into their style of play. The team will be able to use these two different styles of play because over half of the players are also members of the summer Dinos club team.
"Development is insignificant over a two month period, however over a nine month period we can work on skills development and two styles of play," says Gibbs on the importance of the club connection.
Recently, the club Dinos won the provincial championship, which could be an indication of a good year for the team. However, they will have a better idea of where they stand after this weekend’s pre-season games.
"We play the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria, they are the traditional powerhouses of the conference," explains Assistant Coach and Manager Gord Franson. However, unlike in years past, the top four teams in the conference this year will make the playoffs. The consensus appears to be that Victoria will finish first, UBC second, U of C and U of A will battle for third and fourth, while the Universities of Saskatchewan and Lethbridge will battle not to finish last.
"We’re definitely in the hunt," says midfielder Conrad Chala. "We are looking better than last year."
Chala is expected to be one of the Dinos’ key players along with stopper Glen Hawkins, sweeper Mike Pavicic, striker Rajiv Muthur and "Mr. Versatility" J. P. Khouri. With the Dinos switching between the 5-3-2 and 3-5-2 formation and incorporating wing-backs or wing-forwards in the game, Khouri could be particularly valuable.
"I am happy with the team. It’s a lot younger, but I am very happy," says Gibbs.