Men’s soccer season preview

Photo courtesy of SFU Athletics

By: Victor Gouchee

Simon Fraser University’s men’s soccer program has had countless successful seasons in years prior, andas they gear up for hopefully another, we take a look into the Clan’s men’s soccer team heading into the 2017–18 season.

Head coach Clint Schneiderhas been busy this off-season, recruiting a total of nine freshman players, seven of which are from British Columbia, and two players from overseas. Connor Glennon (Vernon) and Bjorn Borren (Penticton) hail from the sunny Okanagan, while Christopher Guerreiro (Coquitlam), Joey Mijaljevic (Coquitlam), Marcello Polisi (Coquitlam), Matteo Polisi (Coquitlam) and Dylan Defer (North Vancouver) are all joining the Clan from across the Lower Mainland. Additionally, Idar Martin Knutsen (Norway) and William Raphael (Kenya) are the two international signings for the Clan.

This year’s roster will line up differently than in previous years due to the loss of several staple graduating seniors from last season. Defer is a goalkeeper, coming in to aid the loss of graduated Brandon Watson. Glennon, Polisi, Borren, Knutsen, and Raphael are all attacking players signed to replace, and support the vacancy left by Ryan Dhillon.

Mijaljevic and Guerreiro are coming in to help fill the voids left by last year’s senior defenders Anthony Van de Vendel and Robert Hyams. The spots left by the graduating players will be hard to fill, but the Clan is in good standing with several players ready for their chance, along with the same core players who helped lead the Clan to be ranked number 3 in all of NCAA Division II last season.

Heading into this season, SFU is recognized as a force to be reckoned with. They are currently ranked number 13 in the nation, and the most recent coaches poll revealed that they are favourites to repeat as Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) champions. The Clan has been impressive throughout pre-season, going undefeated and blowing by cross-town rival UBC for the first time in several attempts. After their pre-season matches, the team is looking fast, organized, and confident. They’re all set to achieve the same goal: win a national title.

If you plan to watch several games during this 2017–18 season, I believe there are three notable players to watch for: Miguel Hof, Connor Glennon, and Kyle Jones. Hof is going into his third season with the Clan, after transferring from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. However, this is Hof’s first season as the Clan’s number 1 netminder. Hof is a commanding presence between the sticks and I believe he is more than capable of filling the huge hole left by the graduated Brandon Watson.

Next up is another player getting their first shot with the Clan, Connor Glennon. This quick and aggressive winger will have to fill the shoes of the graduated Ryan Dhillon, but it’s a task he’s definitely ready to handle. I peg this player to have a successful freshman campaign and cement his spot in the Clan’s lineup for years to come.

Last, but certainly not least, is Kyle Jones. Jones is entering his third year with SFU and with two solid years under his belt already, do not expect the younger Jones brother to be slowing down anytime soon. Jones is the cog in the middle of the Clan machine that keeps everything running smoothly. He won’t be the flashiest player, but he won’t disappoint. A lot of his job will go unnoticed by the average fan, but take him away and SFU would not have the same team.

Look for the Clan to repeat as GNAC champions, as well as hopefully exceed last year’s result by making it further into the National Tournament. With many new faces added to this roster, the goal has not changed. Everyone has their eyes set on the same target, and that is to bring a national title above the border to Canada’s NCAA team.