Experience resulted in huge turnaround for Kings soccer
In a lot of years the loss of team captain Patrick Sweiger would have been a devastating blow to the RDC Kings.
But this year’s edition of the Alberta Colleges Men’s Soccer League squad had enough experience to shake it off and turn in one of their best seasons in years.
All the Kings had to do was look to fourth-year centre back Greg Reddekopp to fill in as captain.
“Pat’s loss was big as he was the team leader, but a lot of guys are stepping in to fill that spot,” said Reddekopp. “And he’s still is coming out to support us and he’s helping coach the back line a bit and helping some of the guys who haven’t been in that position before.”
Reddekopp was comfortable when asked to wear the C.
“I’ve all learned from some good leaders, plus everyone takes a bit of that leadership role,” he said. “We’re all communicating well.”
The Kings have 10 players with league experience, something which was evident during the season as they rolled to a 6-1-3 record and second place in the South Division. That came after posting just one win a year ago.
“It was a huge turn-around, but we had a lot of guys returning and some good youth. Having Nolan (Hamilton) up front had really helped and everyone is coming together at the right time.”
The Kings will need that cohesion as they host the ACAC playoffs, beginning Friday at RDC.
The Kings meet Grande Prairie at 2:20 while Lakeland and Concordia University College of Alberta open play at noon.
“We’re definitely jelling at the right time,” said Reddekopp of Sylvan Lake, who came to RDC out of the Red Deer Minor Soccer Association.
“Everyone is working well together and having the championships on our home field and in front of our home crowd will be great.”
Grande Prairie, which had a 5-3-2 record to finish third in the north, won’t be a pushover. They defeated the Kings 2-1 in an preseason exhibition game.
“We were in a transition period and we’ve grown a lot since then, so we expect it to be a different game,” said Reddekopp, who is one of two players with playoff experience on the team.
The other is Geng Thian, who was with NAIT three years ago.
“My first year we made it to the playoffs and lost 2-0 to a very good Concordia team,” said Reddekopp. “But we have a more skilled team now and have better ball possession, so I like our chances.”
One of the keys to success will be their play on defence and in goal by Stefan Dugas.
“Stefan has been amazing for us and building up confidence all season while in the past our spacing has caused some problems on defence, but we’ve been working on that and it’s getting tighter.”
The winner of the RDC-Grande Prairie contest faces NAIT Saturday at 2:20 p.m. The other quarter-final winner clashes with SAIT at noon.
The bronze medal final is Sunday at noon and the final at 2:20 p.m.
Meanwhile the Queens will compete in the women’s soccer finals at Grant MacEwan.
The Queens, who were second in the south with a 7-0-3 record, back of Medicine Hat (8-0-2), will clash with the host Griffins, 5-5-0, at 2:20 p.m. Friday. The other quarter-final sees SAIT meeting NAIT.
The winner of the RDC game meets Concordia, 8-1-1, at 2:20 p.m. Saturday. Medicine Hat faces the other quarter-final winner. The final goes at 2:20 p.m. Sunday.
The top two teams, in both men and women, advance to the nationals.
l The RDC basketball and volleyball squads open their regular season this weekend against Grant MacEwan University.
The basketball squads are at home Friday with the women tipping off at 6 p.m. and the men to follow. They travel to Edmonton Saturday.
The volleyball teams are at GMU Friday and at home Saturday with the women at 6 p.m. and the men to follow.
l The hockey Queens (2-0) meet NAIT (1-1) in a home-and-home series this week — Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Arena and Saturday in Edmonton.
l The RDC cross-country running team will compete in the ACAC finals, Saturday in Camrose.
l Soccer dominated the Boston Pizza RDC athlete of the week voting.
Hamilton received the male award and Claire Wallace the women’s honours.
Hamilton finished the season with eight goals in 10 games, which led the South Division.
Wallace, who was coming off a back injury, was the player of the match in a 2-2 tie with Medicine Hat Saturday and scored twice in a 6-0 win over Lethbridge Sunday. She finished the season with six goals in eight games, second on the team to Paula Dadensky, who had 11 goals in 10 games and led the South Division.