(FREDERICTON, NB) There are those that dread the return of school and summer’s end, but not Miles Pinsent.
The head coach the UNB Varsity Reds men’s soccer team loves this time of year.
“It’s always an exciting time,” says Pinsent. “You work all year to get the pieces and now you start trying to put them together, into the best team possible.”
Pinsent and the Varsity Reds hit the road to begin the 2017 Atlantic University Sport season.
UNB travels to Acadia to take on the Axemen, ranked 8th in the most recent U SPORTS Top 10.
“Our team will be solid defensively again this season,” says Pinsent. “Last season, we conceded the fewest goals in the country and keeper Evan Barker is back, along with three of the four starting backs.”
Evan Barker(Winnipeg, MB) was named the AUS Rookie of the Year in 2016 and earned 2nd Team All-Canadian honours. He was a member of the team that represented Canada at the 2017 Summer Universiade, in Taipei.
As stingy as they were last season, the Varsity Reds had trouble scoring.
Pinsent says they’ll be working on improving the offence throughout the season.
“Of course there are things to work on,” he said. “Last season, scoring timely goals was sometimes an issue for us. We’ll continue to work on freeing players up in order to create those chances on goal.”
Midfielder Marcus Lees returns for his fifth and final season, as does fullback Kalen Park.
“Experience will be a strength of ours,” said Pinsent. “We have seven players that have won three conference championships and competed in four national championship tournaments where they’ve earned silver and bronze medals.”
Along with Barker, Pinsent says there are a number of players that should play big roles in just their first or second years.
“Matt Quigley, Nick Ellingwood, Mario Maldonado, Luis Garcia and Joe Hamilton are young players with high soccer IQs. They are ready to contribute.”
Lees and Park, along with incoming recruit Tristian Nkoghe, were also selected to the Canadian team that played in Taipei.
Nkoghe suffered an injury in training camp and isn’t expected to play this season.
Regardless, Pinsent, who served as the head coach of Team Canada, feels the experience will benefit his entire group.
“We picked up a few things that can help us during the season,” he said. “The first is confidence, from the fact we held up well at the international level. The second is learning the different styles of play that we saw from different countries.”
After Friday’s season opener in Wolfville, the Varsity Reds travel to Halifax to face Dalhousie, on Saturday.
UNB hosts the defending AUS champion CBU Capers in their home opener, on September 16th. Kick-off is scheduled for 3:15pm.