The RDC Kings are hoping a veteran-laden lineup is key in 2019.
They are coming off an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference quarter-final appearance last season and are returning 11 players in 2019.
One big key cog in the wheel is fourth-year midfielder Theo Gill. He was an ACAC all-conference player last year and believes the leadership group is even stronger this season.
“I guess I have some experience and knowledge that I can pass along to the guys who haven’t necessarily seen everything that college soccer brings,” he said.
“I just think as veterans, we will be able to pass that experience on.”
Jacob Hamilton and Austin Langdon are back in goal for the Kings, along with Kyle Bett, Matthew Elphick, Brandon Fedoruk and Thomas Favel on defence. Gabriel Fleury de Queiroz, also an ACAC all-conference player is back up front as well as three midfielders.
This year’s crop of Kings will also feature 13 Central Albertans on the squad.
Gill said in addition to the returning group, the 10 rookies the team brought in will help push the veteran players.
“I see a lot of heart from our group and also from the new guys coming in. The (rookies) coming in are quality soccer players,” Gill added.
“The cohesion has really grown and grown. It’s a really good mix and a really fun group to be a part of.”
First years include Hayden Jacobs, Kristofer Grobmeier and Turner Johnson on defence. Matt Hamonic, Selemani Nshimiyimana, Dagan Slimmon, Nathan Swartz, Kaidri Bornyi and Cale Jacobs as midfielders. Damian Marah is a transfer from the Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder.
With all the top teams so close in talent, Kings head coach Wade Groenewegen noted that the four-game stretch to start the 12-game season could go a long way in determining if they can earn a playoff spot or not.
The Kings will travel to Medicine Hat and Lethbridge to open the ACAC season. They will play their season opener on Sept. 13 at 4 p.m. and follow that on Sept. 15 against the SAIT Trojans.
“SAIT is always capable of being a juggernaut, so those four games are tough,” he said.
“At the end of those four games, we could know if we are in the playoffs or out, or definitely in a good or bad situation.”
(With files from RDC Athletics)