Kings 3 Rattlers 3
One thing the RDC Kings soccer team has had over the years is strong goaltending.
In fact the Kings had the premier keeper in the conference in Bryan Klaus for five years until his eligibility ran out after last season.
But Kings head coach Steve Fullarton didn’t have far to look to find a solid replacement in Brad Hughes, who comes to the team after helping lead Team Alberta to a silver medal in the Canada Summer Games.
“I have some big shoes to fill, but all I can do is do my part,” said Hughes, a grad of the Red Deer U18 Renegades program. “I can’t force things. I just have to play my game.”
He did that Sunday afternoon as the Kings opened their ACAC season with a 3-3 tie with the Medicine Hat Rattlers at RDC. It was the first point for the RDC team in three years,.
Meanwhile, the RDC Queens dumped the Rattlers 3-0.
Hughes believes his experience with the provincial team will benefit him this season.
“No doubt,” said Hughes who was the Team Alberta starting netminder. “It was excellent soccer and a big confidence boost winning a medal. It helped me to come here having experienced the pressure situations with the provincial team.”
Hughes made the Alberta team following a year-long tryout.
“We had a number of camps in Alberta, San Diego and Victoria before they named the final team,” explained the Notre Dame High School grad, who played the majority of his minor soccer in Red Deer.
“I played here until I was 14, then I went to Edmonton for a brief period and played with the Southwest United before returning to the U18 Renegades.”
Hughes has the quickness and athletic ability to be a premier keeper in the ACAC, what he doesn’t have is a lot of height.
“I’d like to be a little bigger,” said the five-foot-11 Hughes. “But what I lack in size I make up for in quickness and agility. I also have a good vertical and being able to jump high makes up for the lack of size.”
Hughes is in the bachelor of education program at RDC and will spend two years here before moving on to the University of Alberta.
The Kings played a hot and cold game Sunday, jumping into a 2-0 lead on goals by Tanner Newfield and Keegan Sheehan, before giving up three straight goals, all on corner kicks.
But to the Kings credit they didn’t die and Scott MacLeod came back to score with under five minutes remaining to pull out the tie.
“I was happy with the way the guys battled back, but I wasn’t happy allowing the three goals,” said Fullarton. “The guys have to take responsibility for that. We’ve worked hard on our coverage and yet they beat us three times on corner kicks.”
All three MHC goals came with the wind in the second half.
“We had the wind in the first half and played tentatively,” said Fullarton. “Just not enough energy in the beginning. But in the end it wasn’t bad.”
Queens 3 Rattlers 0
The Queens had everything going in the opening 15 minutes and quickly grabbed a 1-0 lead on a goal by Kassie Pritchard.
But after the quick start they relaxed, something that didn’t sit well with head coach Jerry Gerling.
“I usually don’t read the riot act this early in the season, but I did at half time,” he said. “We stopped moving and playing as a team. The second half we came out strong and carried it though to the end.”
Allison Walsh and substitute Katelyn LaGrange scored in the second half for the Queens while Brittany Baker recorded the shutout.
l Sara Palmer was the Queens player of the game while Craig Fullarton was the Kings top player . . . The RDC squads return to action Saturday against SAIT with the women kicking off at noon and the men to follow. They play in Lethbridge Sunday.