From here on out, every point counts.
That’s how the Cape Breton University’s men’s soccer team is viewing their upcoming season as they vie for a spot in the Atlantic University Sport playoffs.
“We always set our goals pretty high at the university,” said head coach Robbie Chiasson. “The first and most important thing is to make playoffs. Every point counts.”
The points quest for the Capers begins this weekend as their season opens up with two games against Memorial Sea-Hawks in St. John’s, Nfld.
“Our goal is to win two games,” said Chiasson. “That’s our goal every time we head into the weekend. Anything less, we kind of become accustomed to being unsatisfied, unhappy if we don’t get the results each and every weekend.”
The Capers are fresh off two wins and one tie in exhibition play in Charlottetown, P.E.I., last weekend.
Chiasson said the exhibition games are an opportunity for young players to adjust to the increased physical demands of university play.
Chiasson said already a few rookies are making an impression. Among the newcomers are 18-year-old players, Shota Ashihara, a transfer student from Japan, who played at Breton Education Centre for the past few years, and Martin Kowalski of Hamilton, Ont., both of whom scored goals in Charlottetown last weekend.
“(There’s) a little bit of nervousness when you have 18 year olds playing with 24 and 25 year olds,” said Chiasson. “So it’s a little intimidating for these young guys. It’s a big jump from under-18 soccer to the university level. That’s the big shock to young players is how physical it is and also the pace is wide open.”
Fifth-year players Andrew Rigby, Andrew Murphy, Jason Massie, Greg Whiting and Shayne Hollis will return to play this season after winning bronze at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships in Victoria, B.C., last year. It was the first year the team ever picked up a CIS medal.
Third-year player Ian Greedy, who was among the top scorers in the league during the 2011-12 season, will also make his return to CBU.
For the Capers women’s team, head coach Stephen (Ness) Timmons said good things are happening, but there’s also a lot of work that needs to be done.
The Capers tied their recent two exhibition games at home against St. FX and Acadia. Chelsea Currie, who played for Riverview High School last year, scored in exhibition play against St. FX, while another local rookie, Kara MacKinnon, was injured in exhibition play.
“Defensively we weren’t where we want to be right now,” said Timmons. “We gave up too many scoring chances in both games. So we have to tighten up back there. But as for the attack, we did see some good play up front from some of our forwards for sure.”
Fourth-year players and team captains Allison Bell-Davies and Robbyn McNeill are leading the team this year.
“Both really have shown great leadership, on and off the field to start the year. We’re in good hands with the team captains for sure.”
The women’s team also heads to Newfoundland this weekend, which Timmons said is a difficult challenge for the team. The team will also be without its leading goal scorer from last year, Karolyne Blaine, who will be off for two to three weeks with an ankle injury.
“It’s a good test to go over there and play them early,” Timmons said. “It’s always a tough place to play. To go in like that, so early in the season too. We’re certainly not hitting our full stride yet. So we’ll have to see how that weekend shapes up.”
The Capers will also host the Atlantic University Sport championships Nov. 2-4, which guarantees them a spot in the playoffs.