RDC Kings rookie Nathan Swartz connects for his seventh goal of the ACAC season in a 2-0 victory over the Medicine Hat College Rattlers Sunday. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

RDC Kings soccer clinch playoff spot on final day of ACAC season

Kings play Concordia University of Edmonton on Oct. 25 in ACAC Championships

It was a win and you’re in kind of weekend for the RDC Kings.

RDC needed one win this weekend to guarantee a berth in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Championships and after a nil-nil draw Saturday, they clinched a playoff spot Sunday.

The Kings got goals from Nathan Swartz and Turner Johnson, along with a shutout by keeper Jacob Hamilton as they topped the Medicine Hat College Rattlers 2-0 in the ACAC season finale at RDC.

“Both games this weekend, we really had buy-in from everyone and that’s the difference,” said Kings head coach Wade Groenewegen.

“Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had pockets working well and guys checking out at certain moments. We didn’t have any of that this weekend. This is the level we need to be at if we want to play more than one game (next weekend) and that’s where we’re at now. Every game we play, if we win, we get to keep playing.”

Johnson, a second-year defender notched his second goal of the year in the 50th minute. From there, the Kings refused to sit back and were rewarded for their aggressive play in the 71st minute, when rookie Nathan Swartz converted his team-leading seventh goal.

“This is a team that really launches a lot of long balls. They’re looking for that one in some many chances to work. You just don’t want to give them that many more opportunities,” Groenewegen said.

“So sitting back and letting them launch balls just plays into their style. We definitely wanted to make sure we had our foot going forward.”

Hamilton, the third-year keeper from Lacombe was the Kings player of the game and will move onto to Vancouver Island University next year. Groenewegen said the POG could have gone to any number of players in the victory.

“Jake has been one of our best players a lot of games and he got the shutout, but really we thought that was a team best player. We could have picked any one of the 13 guys that went on the field,” Groenewegen said.

Defender Kyle Bett, Hugo Janssen and Matthew Elphick are all also moving on next season. Groenewegen said that each played integral over their time at RDC and were the heartbeat of the group.

” All four of those guys are core guys. We’re not going to replace them… they’re part of the backbone of this team,” he said.

The win Sunday pushed the Kings into third in the ACAC South and they will play the Concordia-University of Edmonton Thunder in the opener game of the ACAC Championships on Oct. 25. Last season the Kings also finished third in the south and lost to the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs.

Groenewegen added the mentality is simple this time around.

“Each game as it comes right? We’ll do everything we can to win that one game and hopefully we get another,” he said.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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