KAMLOOPS — Kamloops, BC- “It’s On”. The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s soccer team begins what they hope will be a memorable season when they open training camp next Monday (July 31) at Hillside Stadium.
John Antulov and the WolfPack enter their fourth season in the Canada West on an upward learning curve. The ‘Pack have improved their record each of their regular seasons and with a berth as the host of the 2017 USports Men’s Soccer Nationals, they feel everything is in place for them to emerge as a contender in the Pacific Division.
Antulov has invited 30 players to his main camp which includes veterans. “I felt our recruiting season went very well and will make our group well balanced with the returning players we have in camp.”
The ‘Pack have only lost three starters—the most noteworthy being keeper Claye Harsany—from last season. Antulov says having that solid core to start with will speed up the process of preparing for the regular seasons. “Having that familiarity will be key in keeping continuity in sessions and tactical work. We will work our new players in quickly and have them acclimatized before the season starts.
The leadership group for the ‘Pack this year will be headlined by two time Canada West all-star Ryan Glanville (Williams Lake, BC), Colton Walker (Sicamous, BC), Finlay McPhie (Vernon, BC) , Justin Donaldson (Victoria, BC) and Mitch Popadynetz (Nelson, BC). Donaldson and Popadynetz spent this summer playing in the PDL with Victoria Highlanders and TSS Rovers respectively.
“I expect them to be solid leaders and keep everyone loose and enjoy the process,” the head coach says. “Adding Alan Connor (Salmon Arm, BC) and Brandon Mendez (Calgary, AB)) will bring an extra component on the leadership front.”
Both have stepped away from their assistant coaching roles to participate as they complete their athletic eligibility while returning to school. Both are registered in the Bachelor of Health Sciences degree program.
Thompson Rivers doesn’t have any preseason matches at home. Antulov says that was by design. “As we have at least 14 new players joining our program, I thought it would be good to have the group rooming together and do a lot of team building events on the road (plus we play nine of 15 matches on the road this year). Sometimes being together for long periods of time, players will get to know each other better and the group will be stronger. Our road record has not been great over the last couple of years so getting the guys used to dealing with adversity on the road and learning to battle through it will be key.”
The WolfPack will head to the Oregon Coast to play some exhibition matches along with a tournament in Calgary.
They open their 2017 Canada West campaign August 25th in Prince George, BC against the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves. The WolfPack’s home opener is Saturday, September 2nd at Hillside when the University of Victoria Vikes come to town. That is a 2 pm start time.
All regular season matches-home and away-will be shown on a pay-per-view basis on Canada West TV.
THROW INS: Tickets for the 2017 USport Men’s Soccer Nationals are expected to go on sale in September. The Championships will be played November 9-12th at Hillside with eight schools, including Thompson Rivers competing.
When asked how to keep his team focused on the regular season and not on their berth at Nationals, Antulov explains: “That will be a big part of our preseason. Having Peter (new assistant coach Soberlak) working with us will be critical in keeping us focused on the season and using it to build for November. The main focus on our program this year-aside from playing well and being consistent, will be building a culture, focus and working together as a group.”
Soberlak and Greg Kozoris (strength, conditioning and nutrition) have joined Tim Hutton and Adam Dodgson as the assistant coaches on the WolfPack.
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