The Golden Bears soccer team came off a very successful opening season road trip to play their first games at Foote Field this past weekend.
Coming off a bye week, the Bears ended up splitting their two games, beating the Mount Royal Cougars 3-0 on Friday, while dropping the second game against the Calgary Dinos by a 2-1 score.
Despite the loss on Sunday, head coach Len Vickery said his team was happy to get back on the field.
“(The team was) happy to get back at it after a good stint of training,” Vickery said.The 3-0 win against Mount Royal was the team’s third straight to open the season, as the Bears got goals from Niko Saler, Niko Jankovic, and midfielder Tolu Esan. The difference came down to finishing ability, as the Bears only outshot the Cougars 12-11, but were able to capitalize on their chances while their opponents could not. Vickery credited the win on Friday, as well the two road wins to open the season, on solid, all around play.
“The shape of the team was good, we defended well,” Vickery said. “We got good energy and push from the midfield in support of the forwards, and we scored at the opportune time. That’s typically the recipe for success.”Things didn’t go the Bears way on Sunday however, as the Dinos were able to rally in the second half to pull out a victory.
It was a scoreless game at the half, but the Bears were able to pull ahead in the 50th minute, as Esan scored his third goal of the young season, taking advantage of a through ball from fellow midfielder Moe Teliani.
The Dinos didn’t quit however, and equalized in the 81st minute on a penalty kick, then took the lead less than two minutes later, as Lindon Fedorick finished off a two on one break with a goal that put the Dinos up for good.Vickery spoke about how his team didn’t have their A game for this matchup.
“It was just one of those games. We didn’t play well in the first half, and I think we were happy to come out of the first half at 0-0,” Vickery said.
“(Calgary) came out and were physically tough, and came out with a little more energy, and got their just reward.”
The Bears got more solid play from Teliani and Esan this past weekend, and both have been key to the team’s success this year. Teliani was a question mark to return to the team during the offseason, and Esan missed a large portion of last season with an ankle injury.Vickery spoke about the two’s significant contributions during the early part of this season.
“I think everyone recognizes Moe’s strengths, and he’s certainly started the season well,” Vickery said. “We’re certainly looking to him to spearhead the attack, so if he’s not scoring goals, we’d like him to be contributing by setting players up.”
Vickery also noted Esan’s production early in the season.
“He was sidelined after he injured his ankle badly, and I think in his own mind, he wanted to put that behind him and have a strong season,” Vickery said.
The Bears now sit at 3-1 on the season, and coming off their first loss of the season, Vickery stated the need for the leaders on his team to step up following a less than ideal showing.“Most notably, we need the leadership when things are not going so well,” Vickery said.
“If we get that, and continue working at our physical preparation, we should continue to be contenders.”
The Bears will look to rebound quickly from their loss against the Dinos, as they’re slated to take on their inter-city rivals the MacEwan Griffins in a rare mid-week showdown on Wednesday, Sept, 30, then journey to Manitoba for a pair of games against the Winnipeg Wesmen on Friday, Oct. 2, and Saturday, Oct. 3. Both teams are below the Bears in the standings, with the Griffins record sitting at 2-4, while the Wesmen have posted a 1-4-1 record so far this year.