By: Victor Gouchée
The 2018 season has been an exciting one for SFU men’s soccer so far. They’ve gotten off to a blistering 11–0–0 start, and have outscored their opponents 43–4 in the process. This start has not gone unrecognized, and they are now ranked #1 in the NCAA Div II.
While their talent level is unquestionable, a lot can be said about the team chemistry of this team as well, which began before the season had even started. For the first time in five years, the team began training away from their home on Burnaby mountain. The boys travelled to Norway for 10 action-packed days of training, matches, and team bonding experiences.
When asked how the trip was, senior forward and captain Mamadi Camara said the biggest thing he took from the trip was team bonding. “[We have] a lot of new players, so [meeting] them on the road . . . it forced everyone to have to get to know each other. Usually preseason is so short. Getting so close together off the field means everyone is closer on the field.”
New members to the SFU coaching staff have also played a huge role in the team’s early success. Nick Dasovic, retired Canadian professional soccer player and current soccer analyst for TSN and the Vancouver Whitecaps, has joined the Clan as an assistant coach. Camara calls Dasovic’s professionalism “a huge bonus” to the entire program.
New signings have made their presence felt on the backline for SFU. Goalkeeper Luciano Trasolini and defenders Eric De Graaf, Joost Mangert, and Florian Langenegger have joined senior Michael North to help SFU keep their opponents off the score sheet.
A new starting goalkeeper and three new additions to the starting back four could have spelled bad news for SFU going into the season. However, as the season has progressed, the Clan have a conference high in shutouts (three) and a conference low in saves (eight) and goals against (two). These Clan recruits have been so valuable that the Clan have only conceded four goals in their 11 matches so far this season (including out-of-conference play).
For the most part, though, it is not the Clan’s defence that is getting the recognition, but rather the attacking four. Sure enough, SFU’s defensive record might be impressive, but their offense is much more dangerous.
The Clan boasts the conference’s top three goalscorers in Matteo Polisi (13), Connor Glennon (12) and Mamadi Camara (seven). Their strength is not just in the goals they score, but also in the chemistry the three have together. These three lead the conference not only in goals, but also in assists (mostly to each other). Camara and Polisi each have 10, while Glennon has seven. After starting the season 11–0–0, Camara says he is looking forward to contributing with more goals, while maintaining his assists.
“I want to reach the Final Four [semi-finals]; anything after that is up for the taking,” said Camara of his goals for the team. “The semi-final and final are much more chaotic than other games. I think everything we’ve done [this season] has helped us have a very good shot to win it all.”
Watch out for the SFU men’s soccer program this season, as they are eyeing up a very realistic chance at winning the elusive national championship. When asked why people should be paying attention to the Clan this season, Camara simply stated: “We’re number one in the whole NCAA DII. We score goals every game, we play a beautiful style of football, and it’s very exciting.”