SFU Men’s Soccer looks to secure GNAC title for the second year in a row

Heartbreaking playoff loss to Cal Poly marred an otherwise glorious 2018 campaign

Mark Talisuna and William Raphael celebrate - Photo credit / SFU Athletics

By: Keveren Guillou

The SFU men’s soccer team will be looking to settle some unfinished business this season after their impressive 2018 season came to a shocking end. The team started the season off on a hot streak with 16 consecutive wins, clinching first place in their conference. This finish was enough for the Clan to be ranked #1 overall in NCAA Division II soccer. All in all, one of the most successful seasons in SFU men’s soccer history resulted in a GNAC title, the top seed in the NCAA national tournament, but, despite those achievements, a disappointing end.

Clinching the number one seed gave the Clan the advantage of playing a much lower-ranked team to kick off the tournament. The opponent wound up being Cal Poly Pomona, a team that they had previously dismantled to the tune of a 3–0 shutout. This matchup was not to be taken lightly though, as Cal Poly had upset the Clan in the two previous seasons. Once again, despite SFU’s dominance throughout the match, history would ultimately repeat itself as Cal Poly scored a gut-wrenching golden goal on their only shot of the game — in overtime no less — sending them to the next round and the Clan home to clean out their lockers.  

Despite this disheartening end to the 2018 season, in a recent poll of GNAC coaches, SFU was unanimously elected the favourite to win the conference title again this year. In 2019, the lads will be looking to live up to the hype, repeat last year’s regular season performance, and, most importantly, make up for last season’s devastating ending by extending their success to the NCAA national tournament. 

Fans of SFU soccer can expect to see many of last season’s top talents returning to represent the Clan this season. However, this comes with one notable exception: the loss of GNAC Male Athlete of the Year Mamadi Camara, who was drafted into the MLS (Major League Soccer) by the San Jose Earthquakes.  

Leading the squad this year, once again, are the dynamic Polisi brothers, who are expected to repeat the amazing seasons they had last year. Matteo Polisi will be leading the attack this season after scoring 18 goals and contributing 11 assists in 2018. Polisi was awarded a spot on the All-GNAC First Team and was also first-team All-American and the D2CCA West region Player of the Year. His chemistry with fellow attacker Connor Glennon, who scored 16 goals last season, will make for a formidable offensive duo. Polisi will be accompanied by his brother Marcello, who started in all 16 of his appearances last year. Marcello was also named to the All-GNAC First Team.  

They will be joined by other familiar faces including midfielders Rahid Raheim, Quinn Dawson, and 2018 GNAC Defensive Player of the Year Michael North. In goal will be last year’s GNAC Newcomer of the Year, Luciano Trasolini, who kept an impressive 11 clean sheets in 2018.

Leading the Clan from the bench in his fourth season is the 2018 GNAC Coach of the Year, Clint Schneider. Under his tenure, SFU has been Northwest champions three consecutive times and expectations will remain high. Above all else, Schneider is likely looking to lead his squad to a break-through against Cal Poly in the national tournament — if the opportunity arises once again. 

Coach Schneider has added eleven new faces to the squad this year, seven of which are from BC.  Those joining the team from within the province are defenders Aaron Colbourne, Christian Comuzzi, and Owen McBride, midfielder Lorenzo De Bei, and forwards Patrick Ruszyzyk, Sidrit Vukai and Devin O’Hea. The four out of province recruits are defenders Peder Syvertsen and Jorick Schilken, midfielder Christian Hanche-Olsen, and forward Jonathan Kisse.  

The SFU men’s soccer team will kick off their season on September 5 at Terry Fox Field against, you guessed it, Cal Poly Pomona. Kickoff is 8:30 p.m. as the Clan looks to overcome the team that dashed their hopes for glory in the NCAA national tournament just a few months ago.