It would have been easy for the RDC Kings to take the Olds College Broncos for granted.
After all the Kings are one of the premier teams in the Alberta Colleges Men’s Soccer League while the Broncos were winless on the season.
But the Kings had first place on the line when they took to the field against the Broncos Sunday afternoon at RDC and showed it as they rolled to a 6-1 victory, which wrapped up first place in the South Division.
The Kings put themselves in position to capture top spot for the first time since the 1980s, with an inspired 3-1 win over the Trojans at SAIT Saturday.
“We earned ourselves a bye into the semifinals and all the credit to the guys,” said Kings head coach Steve Fullarton. “The win at SAIT was huge , , , a great character builder, and today’s win was a professional effort as we didn’t take anything for granted.
“I couldn’t be more delighted.”
The one team the Kings, 7-3-0, had problems with this season was the Lakeland College Rustlers, who they lost to twice.
“The result a couple of weeks ago against Lakeland was a kick in the butt, but the players had two weeks to think about it and they made amends. Yesterday and today they were brilliant.”
Andrew Jevne and Mark Ibbotson scored twice each against Olds with singles added by Gurjit Sandhu, on a penalty kick, and Logan Grenier. Mahad Mohamed scored for Olds against RDC netminder Morgan Drews.
Nolan Hamilton scored twice against SAIT with Ibbotson collecting a single marker. Rayden Beveridge was in goal.
The Kings led 2-0 early against SAIT, who scored late in the first half.
“The second half they came at us, but we defended well and when Nolan got his second goal we were able to relax a bit,” said Fullarton.
The Kings face the winner of the NAIT-Medicine Hat quarter-final match. Grant MacEwan finished first in the north and will meet the winner of the Lethbridge-Concordia quarter-final.
The Kings will play for a medal no matter what happens, but that’s not what Fullarton is after.
“The league is sending two teams to the nationals and that’s our goal,” he said.
The Kings will go into the playoffs relatively healthy, although they’ll likely be without Jeremy Gopal, who received a red card Sunday.
Queens 3 Broncos 0
The Queens finished off their regular season with a 3-0 win over the Broncos, but it was a 1-0 loss to SAIT on Saturday that cost them second place in the South Division.
“We finished in a tie with them and they held the edge in head-to-head,” said Queens head coach Dave Colley. “While we would have liked to finish second, I’m proud of the girls in making the playoffs.
“We went into the season with four returnees and only 12 players and were looking to add players after we opened camp. After our first trip to Medicine Hat I didn’t think we would make the playoffs, but this team jelled as a team quickly.”
They showed a bit of nerves early against SAIT, which may have cost them second place.
“In the fhe first half nerves got to them, but the second half they came out with the idea they had nothing to lose and we were unfortunate not to at least tie the game. We hit the crossbar, had one goal called back on a questionable offside and another ball was cleared from the line by a defender.”
Colley loves the fact he’ll have at least half his team back next season and looks for the experience they get at the league playoffs in Medicine Hat as a bonus.
“We lose some good players, but we’ll have double the number of girls back and some third-year players, which is important,” he said.
Kayla Blacquiere scored twice against Olds with Tatiana Aspillaga connecting once. Jesse Stewart recorded her fifth shutout of the season.
The Queens face NAIT in the quarter-finals while SAIT and Grande Prairie clash in the other quarter-final. Medicine Hat won the South Division and MacEwan the north.
“We worked our backsides off to get here and we’ll go to the playoffs and enjoy ourselves. I know we’ll play a very good team, but we’ll see,” said Colley.