The long wait is over: U of S Huskies men’s soccer returns to the field for Canada West action

“This group has been really good over the last 18 months. We can’t wait to be on the pitch together on Friday.

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Real games and real competitions are waiting for you.

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Yes, it’s been a while.

Indeed, it has been two years since members of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s soccer team last played a meaningful game on the field.

“It’s incredible,” said veteran Huskies midfielder and team manager Tobias Hryich-Krueger, whose team opens the Canada West conference game on Friday night (5 p.m.) against the Pronghorns. ‘University of Lethbridge at Griffiths Stadium in Nutrien Park.

“The guys really showed persistence in these obviously difficult times. We’ve had a really long preseason – probably the longest for me, at least – and, yes, we can’t wait to go. We had (exhibition) games. We are looking forward to it (start of the regular season).

“That’s what we’re playing for.”

In 2019, the Huskies reached the Canada West Final Four after posting a 7-3-4 regular season record.

Much has changed since then for all teams, not just the Huskies, who have moved on without the Canadian second all-star Jacob Powell, Marcello Gonzalez, Gabriel Buatois and Gabriel Michael.

“It seems like an eternity when we talk about guys who graduated but obviously Jacob Powell, Marcello Gonzales and Gabby Buatois were all important players and leaders on the park, but we have recruited well in the last two cycles. and, like every succession, you always put players in places to take over from the players, ”said Huskies head coach Bryce Chapman.

“We’re looking at Tobias – he did a great job as one of our captains. KB (Kuhle Bekwayo) grew stronger in our group of captains, and Zach Edwards. We’re pretty comfortable with the guys leading our charge.

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Chapman, entering his 17th season with the program, seems eager to “start playing games that count for points and count for the standings,” Chapman said.

“This group has been really good over the last 18 months. We can’t wait to be on the pitch together on Friday.

Saskatchewan will be ruled by Hryich-Krueger, Bekwayo, Edwards and other returnees Nikolas Baikas and Marcus Baxter.

Baikas led the Dogs with three goals and two assists in 2019, while goaltender Baxter recorded seven wins and five shutouts as a rookie.

Major additions include University of Winnipeg transfers Aaron Hidalgo-Mazzei (FC Winnipeg Lions) and Kevin Garic, as well as former red jersey Mathew Hnatiw (Woodbridge Strikers), Luke Mackie (Saskatchewan Whitecaps Soccer Academy) and Ahmed Mohammed (Saskatoon Bethlehem).

“The two boys from Winnipeg, Aaron and Kevin, have arrived and obviously they bring a wealth of experience,” noted Hryich-Krueger. “They are a little older. Look at Robert (MacKay), who arrived from Calgary. He’s been doing extremely well since he arrived. It’s very, very exciting.

“We’re lucky to have them, aren’t we?” They have benefited us.

The Huskies have 15 players entering their first year of U Sports eligibility and seven players entering their second U Sports season after missing last season.

Saskatchewan will play in the Canada West Central Division with the Mount Royal University Cougars, University of Alberta Golden Bears, University of Calgary Dinos, MacEwen University Griffins and Lethbridge.

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With a modified COVID-19 schedule, the Huskies will not have any games against the seven BC-based teams.

“It makes things a lot more compact,” Hryich-Krueger said. “It’s going to be extremely competitive, but we still have the same goals. It doesn’t matter who we play. We’re here to get the three points at the end of the day and hopefully we end up in a Final Four (Canada West) and beyond.

Chapman said it was difficult to compare this year’s squad to the one representing the U of S two years ago.

“These are tough comparisons on the table,” Chapman said. “I think COVID has presented a lot of different barriers for athletes, coaches and people in general. The way I see it, this group has a clean slate. We really like the personalities in the room. We like the quality in the field. Now it’s up to them to play when it counts.

Hryich-Krueger said the team is “similar” to two years ago in many ways.

“We obviously brought some veteran experience and have some very promising rookies who have shown really well in the preseason,” he said.

“We link up really well. I am excited for the season. I think we have a lot of potential. “

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  1. U of S Huskies women's soccer head coach Jerson Barandica-Hamilton instructs her team at Griffith Stadium the day before the Canada West Conference home opener on Friday.  Photo taken in Saskatoon on Thursday, September 16, 2021.

    Drive for Five: Huskies’ women’s football led by hard-core to finish fifth year

  2. U of S Huskies head coach Bryce Chapman is looking for a youth recovery of seven new hires for 2019.

    U of S Huskies add new recruits

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