Former SFU men’s soccer head coach Alan Koch and last year’s Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) player of the year Jovan Blagojevic have returned to Burnaby Mountain to face off against their former team last Thursday, March 19.
Koch, who left the program to head the Whitecaps’ USL PRO affiliate in January, and Blagojevic, who was drafted by the Whitecaps and subsequently signed by the affiliate, helped the Whitecaps FC 2 win 5–1 against the SFU men’s team last Thursday at Terry Fox Field.
“It was nice seeing them — before the game I said hi to them,” Blagojevic reflected on playing against his former teammates. “But on the field it was definitely business, it wasn’t very friendly.”
Despite the final score, SFU had a great start, controlling the play for much of the first half with solid defence. Clan forward Justus Hogback opened the scoring, giving SFU an early 1–0 lead.
“It’s all players I used to coach, it’s pretty new — you don’t get that opportunity often,” said Koch. “It’s nice to see [SFU] play, they worked very hard, they deserved to score, they deserved to be up for a while.”
However, the Whitecaps FC 2 slowly took control of the game. Striker Mackenzie Pridham scored his first of the day to tie up the game — he would end up with four of the team’s five goals. Goals two and three for the FC 2 sealed the deal, with the second coming right before halftime and the third scored immediately after halftime, both by Pridham.
“I’m happy we came and clawed our way back and won the game, otherwise I’d be pretty disappointed with my Whitecaps group, but it was a fun experience,” Koch said with a laugh.
New SFU men’s head coach Clint Schneider, who spent seven seasons on Koch’s coaching staff, was proud of his team’s effort.
“I’m proud of the way the guys played. [. . .] We played the right way, and the results don’t really matter at this point in the apring, it’s the performance that matters,” he said.
“We could sit in — it’s a better team — and play it that way [but] I’m not a believer in that. I want our guys to try to do things they would do in the fall: go out and play, and try and do the right things in a match. If you do that against a good team, and you make mistakes, you get punished for it — that was what happened today.”
Blagojevic, who donned number 47 for the Whitecaps FC 2, however, went goalless, citing the stress of playing against his former team.
“It was weird, I couldn’t really relax today for some reason. It felt like [there was] extra pressure on myself with playing [against] SFU,” he said. “It was weird, I kept feeling like I should be on the other side, but that’s just how the world goes, it’s on to the next team.”