Pair of wins puts Kings in first
If Nolan Hamilton was completely healthy it would be devastating for the rest of the Alberta Colleges Men’s Soccer League.
Despite struggling to come back from an early season injury, Hamilton notched his fourth and fifth goals of the season as the RDC Kings swept a weekend doubleheader, beating the Medicine Hat Rattlers 3-2 Saturday and the Lethbridge Kodiaks 4-1 Sunday, to move into first place in the ACAC’s South Division.
“It’s been going on since the summer,” said Hamilton. “I cracked a couple of ribs in the summer and just when I got healthy I was injured in our first league game.”
Hamilton has missed most of two games this season, but has scored in every game he’s been in.
“It’s frustrating that I’m not in top shape, but I’m doing what I can to get in there and be good enough to play. My fitness is lacking, but it’s coming.”
Head coach Steve Fullarton does everything he can to rest his star striker so he can play on the weekend.
“He struggled a bit because he isn’t training, but he had a light practice on Thursday and he was great in these two games. With him in there he causes all kinds of trouble for the opposition.”
While Hamilton enjoys his time on the field, he would like nothing more than to be able to train at full speed.
“I love practice with Steve. It hurt my game a bit by not training, but I’m still managing to make the plays and try to get the ball to the other guys. I know once we get everyone healthy we’re pretty to watch.”
Defender Julius Abegar is also struggling with an injury, but not only did he anchor the defence both days, but scored against Lethbridge, who came in leading the division.
“Julius is a rock back there,” said Hamilton. “With Logan (Grenier) out with a suspension, we needed him to step up and he did what it took to win.”
The 25-year-old Hamilton is in his second year with the Kings after moving to Red Deer from Calgary, where he attended SAIT.
“I played soccer until I was 12 and then played golf for eight years,” he said. “But I got back into soccer while at SAIT and after I moved here I wanted to play at a high level again and contacted Steve and got back into it. I can’t say enough good things about Steve and the way he handles the team. I love it.”
The two wins gave the Kings a 5-2 record and leaves them one point up on the Kodiaks, 4-1-2, and six points ahead of SAIT, Lakeland and Medicine Hat. Olds is 0-6-0.
“These were a big six points this weekend,” said Fullarton, who wasn’t all that pleased with the team’s effort against Medicine Hat.
“We didn’t play that well, but they did a good job of shutting us down. We beat them early in the season and they were motivated.”
As for Sunday the Kings were simply the better team.
“We knew what they liked to do and we were able to adjust and cause them all kinds of problems,” he said.
Lethbridge were grumbling at the end of the game that with Logan Grenier sitting in the stands that they should win by default.
“He’s suspended, but he’s entitled to sit and watch,” said Fullarton. “They’re grabbing at straws.”
Chase Grenier and Mark Ibbotson also scored against Lethbridge while Alim Hirji had the other two goals against the Rattlers.
Meanwhile, the Queens split their weekend matches, losing 4-0 to the 6-1-0 Rattlers and beating Lethbridge 2-0.
The win over Lethbridge was extremely important as the teams are now tied for second in the south at 3-2-2 and with RDC holding the tie-breaker.
“On Saturday we simply didn’t click,” said Queens head coach Dave Colley. “We played as 11 individuals and when you do that against a team like Medicine Hat you’re going to get beat. So we had a wee chat in the shed after the game and we came out and played extremely well today. We only scored two goals, but we dominated. The second half they had the wind and hardly got out of their end.
“These girls are a good bunch and they learned from yesterday. If we want to make the playoffs we have to trust each other and play as a team.”
Kaitlyn D’Arcy and Kayla Blacquiere, who was the ACAC female athlete of the week last week, scored for the Queens with Jesse Stewart recording the shutout.
RDC hosts Lakeland College Saturday.