Rode: Red Deer College soccer teams ready for season kickoff

To say the Red Deer College soccer Kings are young may be an understatement.

Head coach Wade Groenewegen felt the team was young last season, but nothing compared to this year.“This year the bulk of our team will be 17 to 19 year-olds, so we’re really young, but that may not be bad,” he said. “A huge chunk of the roster will be here moving forward. And I also feel good about putting the new guys in right now.”

Groenewegen has only two third-year players in defender Nonso Onwuekwe and midfielder Yenner Teah. He does have nine second-year players to go with 13, or possibly 14, rookies.

Meanwhile, the RDC Queens have a 16-player roster with eight returnees, including third-year defenders Krysten Strand and Chelsea Webster.

The Kings have played a pair of exhibition games against the University of Alberta, Augustana, winning 2-1 and 4-1.

“We’re still building a foundation and because we’re so young we’re still hammering that in to them,” said Groenewegen. “But still we have a backbone to the team, which we didn’t have last season.”

Several rookies last season saw regular duty, led by midfielder Theo Gill and defender Tanner Steenbergen.

Defender Nathan Bergeson, midfielders Timmo van Klaveren, Toni Suhalj and Jeremy Gopal, keeper Talon Grenier and forward Bryce Vleeming are in their second year.

Three of the new players could be from Brazil. Keeper Joao Bizerra and defender Eduardo da Costa are already in camp with the possibility of Roberto da Silva joining them.

“Roberto has to get his visa, so we’re hoping it will be shortly,” said Groenewegen. “He plays centre back, like Eduardo, and is highly skilled and seasoned. Eduardo isn’t flashy, but is strong, keeps it simple and is a physical force.”

Jacob Hamilton of Lacombe is the third keeper in camp.

Several of the newcomers have already caught the eye of the coach, including defender and Notre Dame grad Kolton Childs.

Other first-year players are forward Lee Wagar and Shaun Funk, midfielders Hugo Janssen, William Aciniegas and Kyle Bett and defenders Keeghan Tingley and Mohammed Abdi.

Groenewegen doesn’t expect any one player to lead the offence.

“We have excellent team speed, but no one guy that much faster,” he said. “We expect to score by committee.”

Both RDC teams were fourth in the South Division last season and missed the playoffs. The Kings were 3-6-1 and the Queens 4-4-2.

Queens first-year head coach Esad Elkaz should have a solid defence led by Strand and Webster. Jaden Humphrey is in her second year. Brownyn Pfeifle was also around last season, but an knee injury kept her on the sidelines. Corrin Graham, Malinka Voytechek and Nicole Phillips return in the midfield and Kayle Kaip in goal.

As for the newcomers, Erin Gill will work in goal with Tash Saalan on defence. Other rookies are midfielders Alexandra Murphy of Red Deer, Reesa Garez of Stettler, Kayla Yeo of Calgary and Teryn Wright of Edmonton and forwards Adama Soumah of Hamilton and Helyay Nassichuk-Dean of Crossfield.

The Queens have also played a pair of exhibition games, defeating Augustana 2-1 and tying Grande Prairie 2-2.

“We’re almost building from scratch, but we have some experience and the new players are fitting in. You can see the chemistry already. We started working out in early August and they’ve become so tight.”

Elkaz has been involved with minor soccer in the city for several years as a technical director, so knows many of his players. He knows they should be strong on the back end and in goal.

“I believe in having a strong defence and building from there, but I’m not going to have a team that sits back either. I believe we have the talent to create offensively.”

The RDC teams open their season on the road — Sept. 9 in Lethbridge and 10 in Medicine Hat. They host Olds Sept. 16 and SAIT Sept. 17.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at drode@reddeeradvocate.com

Just Posted

Relatives of murdered family critical of killers’ sentences

Open letter to sentencing judge criticizes ruling allowing killers to apply for parole in 25 years

City rolling out Green Carts

Green Carts used for organics, such as yard waste, food scraps and pet waste

New teaching standards applauded

New code of standards affecting teachers, principals and superintendents to kick in Sept. 1, 2019

UPDATED: Agriculture minister speaks to cattle producers

2018 Alberta Beef Industry Conference underway in Red Deer

Updated: Red Deer gets WHL Bantam Draft and Awards Banquet

WHL will holds its draft and awards ceremony in Red Deer for next three years

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Twenty years later, figure skating’s most famous backflip remains amazing (and illegal)

Figure skating involves spins, jumps, twizzles and a whole host of other… Continue reading

You don’t need to chop like a TV chef to get the job done

Standing in line at the emergency room, makeshift bandage around my finger,… Continue reading

Seychelles swaps debt for groundbreaking marine protection

CURIEUSE ISLAND, Seychelles — With deep blue waters, white sand beaches and… Continue reading

Trump endorses raising minimum age to 21 for more weapons

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump endorsed stricter gun-control measures Thursday, including raising… Continue reading

Red Deer blood clinic in need of 600 donors

Aunt encourages Central Albertans to donate blood after losing nephew

Court considers banning diesel cars in German cities

BERLIN — A German court began considering Thursday whether authorities should ban… Continue reading

US women beat Canada in Olympic hockey; Gisin tops Shiffrin

PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of — A tense shootout, a dazzling deke and… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month