Last season, the men’s varsity soccer team finished fourth among their central division opponents in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association. The first-year squad surprised many with their performance at the end of the regular season and in the playoffs.
The Eagles (2-5-3) didn’t have any serious expectations going into the playoffs. They were up against defending champions Algonquin College in the quarterfinals, but dethroning them made for a Cinderella story that should continue all the way through the 2016 season.
A season riddled with injury and a relatively small squad is what brought down last year’s team, but Coach Robert Brown has high hopes for the group of men: “We will be holding a bigger squad this year; that way if injuries creep up on us like they did last year, we should be able to mitigate that risk.”
With UTM having become a member of the OCAA last year, achieving seventh place is not something the Eagles should be embarrassed of. “I feel like this program could be one of the best in the province. It will take some time, as the program matures along with the mentality from the boys. [Despite only having one year of experience in the OCAA], I feel like the team has adjusted,” Coach Brown says. He also believes that this season, the varsity team will be able to make the provincials and earn a better rank. Last season, Sheridan College was UTM’s top rival. A 2-0 loss in their opening game against Sheridan College made a dent in the squad’s confidence. However, the organization doesn’t believe this trend will continue. As the Eagles begin to strengthen their chemistry with one another and the fans, many within the organization believe that both the men’s and the women’s team can become one of the strongest lineups in the OCAA.
UTM Varsity Program Administrator Jack Krist believes that the group of men have proven that they can compete against the best headed into next season. “Our men’s varsity team went to the OCAA provincial championships in only their first year of play—a feat almost unheard of,” says Krist.
Krist gave additional insight on what is happening to the men’s coaching staff this season. “We have hired a recent alumni and former player, Gio McDonald, who will be Robert Brown’s new assistant coach and the head coach for our development team.”
Coach Brown’s main priority this season is to build on concepts the players learned in their freshman season. McDonald will no doubt be beneficial to this program with all of his experience, which he can pass on to the players. With new leadership, bigger hype, and enthusiasm from the fans, the Eagles can become a powerhouse this season.