RDC soccer programs have high hopes for 2013 season
There was a time when Steve Fullarton was worried about what the RDC Kings soccer team may look like this season.
“It was a tough year to recruit . . . a real struggle,” he said.
But in the end he couldn’t be happier as he put together a team that should contend for a playoff spot and a medal in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.
“We got a couple of our veterans back, who looked like they may be moving on, and a real good group of first-year players,” said Fullarton.
Meanwhile, the RDC Queens will field a solid lineup, although head coach Dave Colley would have liked a few more veterans.
“At one time it looked as if we’d have nine returnees, but because of other commitments and injuries we’re down to four,” he said.
Fullarton has six returnees and he’s more than happy to see Logan Grenier and Andrew Jevne back. The pair will anchor the defence. Grenier was expected to attend the University of Alberta this year while Jevne was looking at the University of Calgary.
“We’re certainly glad to have them back as they’ll give us two of the top defenders in the league,. They work well together and last year allowed us to have one of the best goals-against-average in the league.”
As well team scoring leader Nolan Hamilton returns along with team rookie-of-the-year Chase Grenier, who plays the midfield, defender Gurjit Sandhu and forward Jeremy Gopal.
What excited Fullarton even more is the depth added to the midfield in Ghana native Julius Abegar, who played some professional soccer, and Sam Day, of Sylvan Lake, who is originally from England.
Abegar is 33 years old and played pro in Malaysia and with the Thunder Bay Chill.
“He has a lot of experience and is probably playing at a level of soccer below his abilities,” said Fullarton. “But we’re certainly glad to have him. He’s like having a coach on the pitch.”
As for Day, Fullarton has watched him since he was 13.
“He’s very technically solid and you put him with Julius and Alim (Hirji) and Chase in the midfield we’ll be strong in that area.”
Hirji, who is from the Calgary Villains, played with the Kings futsal team last winter.
“He’s a very strong player,” said Fullarton, who has two solid goaltenders in Rayden Beveridge of Vermilion and Morgan Drews of Sylvan Lake.
“It’s a rarity to have two strong goaltenders as last year we struggled to have one keeper,” said Fullarton.
Nik Berry and Rohinesh Ram from Notre Dame and Austin Ericson of Lacombe are other defenders on the roster with Mark Ibbotson of Three Hills and Cameron Lyon of Ponoka at forward and Ahmed Jamaluddin of Lindsay Thurber in the midfield.
“We have a lot of creative players and some proven goal scorers,” said Fullarton. “We have a good squad, but from what I hear there’s several others who have good squads as well.”
The Kings will get a chance to see how they sit this weekend as they open the league in Medicine Hat Saturday and Lethbridge Sunday.
“From what I understand both teams will be tough,” Fullarton said.
The Queens will also be in tough.
“Medicine Hat is an older team and are always tough at home,” said Colley. “Last year we tied them twice before beating them in the bronze medal game. I’m sure they’ll be looking to get back at us for that.”
Keeper Jesse Stewart, defender Adi Moyer, midfielder Tatiana Aspillaga and right back Teagan Donald are the returnees. Kayla Blacquiere of Lacombe, who played with the major league Renegades, will be looked at to prove offence after the loss of Paula Dadensky to the U of A.
“Kayla was at college last year, but didn’t play,” said Colley. “She’s an accomplished player.”
Overall Colley has 11 players with college, major league or U18 Renegades experience.
One of the newcomers — Nicole Silveira of Calgary — played with the Olds Broncos last year and will team with Aspillaga in the midfield.
Two other players — defender Taryn Aucion of Red Deer and left back Ashley Edmundson of Lacombe — were at RDC last year, but didn’t play.
Midfielder Kaitlin D’Arcy of Red Deer, will also act as backup keeper this season. Midfielders Emily Gopal and Teala McEwan and forward Celine Jensen are also from Red Deer while forward Hayley Lush is from Eckville, defender Jordan Mensink of Chestermere and midfielder Courtney Smith of Ponoka round out the roster.
“I like what I’ve seen and one of the positives was that when we played an exhibition match against Mount Royal (a 3-1 loss) the girls didn’t show any nerves,” said Colley. “We’ll need to work on our experience, but I believe we can build on last year.”
The RDC teams first home action is Sept. 14 when they host SAIT.