By Rob South
In a famed ’80s movie, the secret of Michael J. Fox’s success was to work hard and sleep with his aunt, but for the Dinos soccer teams, this weekend’s playoffs require a different formula in order to succeed.
"More than any time in the past 17 years, we are ready," said men’s Head Coach Andy Gibbs. "But if we don’t get our attitude right from the first minute of the first game we won’t succeed."
One might be surprised to hear Gibbs’ optimism considering the team lost 2-0 to the University of Saskatchewan and tied the University of Alberta 2-2, but Gibbs quickly explained he was not fielding his best team.
"I rested quite a few players because of injuries and to avoid picking up any more cards," said Gibbs. "I wanted them to be available to play against the University of British Columbia [in the playoffs]."
The strategy appears to have worked, as UBC’s star player Randy Celebrini will be unavailable in their match against Calgary because of a card he picked up this weekend. UBC’s women’s team also did the Dinos a favour this weekend: they defeated the University of Victoria 1-0, making the women Dinos the only undefeated team in the conference. This places very high expectations on the women Dinos, who were national champions two short seasons ago.
"It’s going to be a tough weekend no doubt," said women’s Head Coach Robin Slot. "We will have to be very well prepared both mentally and physically."
The women were certainly well prepared this weekend as they beat U of A 2-0 and the U of S 2-1.
"Saskatchewan was difficult because of the weather conditions," said Slot. "The team came back from being a goal down, which should give them confidence."
Because of the sensational season by goalkeeper Taryn Swiatek and the solid defence in front of her, this was the first time the women Dinos have had to come from behind this season. Slot is not worried that the outstanding goalkeeping will make the team too reliant on a defensive style of play.
"I would be concerned if we weren’t creating a lot of chances," said Slot. "But we are creating a lot of chances. I think if we get two goals a game, that could win [the Canada West title]."
Both the women’s and men’s Canada West semi-finals and finals take place this weekend. On Saturday the number-one ranked women will play the number-four ranked U of A in semi-final action in Victoria That same day the number-three ranked men will play the number-two ranked Thunderbirds in Lethbridge. The finals will occur the next day in both cities.