As a result of an ill-timed trip to the pretentious and overbearing city of Toronto (more appropriately known as T-dot), it’s been a fortnight since I spoke to anyone associated with the University of Calgary men’s soccer team.
When I left, the Dinos were 1-4, but still in the hunt for a playoff spot. In fact, they were very optimistic about their chances of being in the playoffs. According to fourth-year goalkeeper Mike Wallis, "There is a mentality of desperation among the players on this team… there is no excuse for us not to make the playoffs. I don’t say that to sound arrogant, but this team has what it takes to be there."
With that in mind, the Dinos hosted two games in Calgary against a couple of teams from the left coast of Canada on Oct. 16 and 17–the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria, two of the country’s top teams. Both games ended with the Dinos losing 5-1.
The two losses were no big surprise, bearing in mind the calibre of the competition. However, I was surprised at the final score, considering how tough the Dinos had played the teams in the past. Head coach Andy Gibbs explained, "The scores are not indicative of how close the games were. We were down by a goal with 15 minutes to go in both games. At that point, I threw too many guys up front looking for the tying goal which allowed them to score some goals."
Last weekend the Dinos hit the road for a two-game set. They were in Edmonton on Friday to play the University of Alberta, a game they lost 5-0 to the second-ranked team in Canada.
"It was the same situation as the two previous games," Gibbs commented. "We were down 1-0 with 15 minutes to go and we had to start chasing the game and piling guys up front looking for the equalizer… we have forwards who act as role players but we need forwards who can be goal scorers. That is what the team is really lacking right now. We have the role players, but we need the goal scorers."
On Sunday the Dinos were in Saskatoon to play the University of Saskatchewan, a game definitely played under a "mentality of desperation." If the Dinos lost they would be virtually guaranteed of not making the playoffs. The Dinos came through, played tough and came out with a close 1-0 victory, keeping their playoff hopes alive.
The Dinos now find themselves at 2-7, one point behind the U of S for the fourth and final playoff spot, two points ahead of the University of Lethbridge. This sets the stage for the coming weekend and the Dinos’ last regular season game at the U of L Pronghorns. If the Dinos win, the chances of them being in the playoffs. are very good as the U of S are headed for a difficult two-game trip to the west coast.
Winning will not be easy for the Dinos, despite their 3-0 victory over the U of L earlier in the year. Gibbs described that as a "fortunate victory at home against a very good Lethbridge team." It’s true that the Dinos need a little help from UBC and UVic this weekend, but the heat is still on the Dinos to win this weekend and make the playoffs.