NAIT women's soccer player during a September practice

Women, men start well

October 2, 2017

School is back in session at NAIT, which also means that another season of Ooks soccer has dawned once more. Big things are in store for both the men’s and women’s teams as they look to secure championships after strong campaigns last year.

The women got off to a good start with wins over Augustana (7-0) on Sept. 9 and
King’s (6-0) on Sept. 16.

The main focus for the women is simple – work hard and the results will come.

“Expectations are that we are going to work hard every game,” said head coach
Carole Holt. “We set some goals at the beginning of the season, the coaching staff did, in terms of what we want to achieve and we were pretty specific in terms of effort, which is something we are not going to negotiate. It’s going to be 100 per cent effort at all times. Players have to be prepared to make mistakes and we’re OK with that as long as they’re working hard and trying new things,” she said.

“I think we’re just going to be good teammates and, if we do those things, the results will look after themselves.” Star keeper Kailey Harder will be missing
from the team this year but the coaching staff hopes to have her back next year.

Meanwhile, it’s up to newcomers Renee Chattargoon and Ashley Chaput to
hold the fort.

“We have two new goalies that have done really well so far,” said Holt.

“I think they’re just going to be fine for us. We don’t know who’s No. 1 or No. 2 just yet. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

After having such a strong season last year, the women look to take the next step and secure a national championship after falling just short in the previous campaign.

Going undefeated in the conference is no easy feat and the ladies were able to
achieve it with a 9-0-1 record.

“If we’re fit and able to work hard we’ll be able to compete in every game,” said Holt.

One of the more interesting stats from last season was the fact the Ooks only
allowed five goals. If the defence can be rock solid again, they’ll be contending for a national championship.

On the men’s side, things are a little different, considering they’ve added 15 new recruits. Despite that, they managed to win their first two matches, 4-1 over Augustana on Sept. 9 and 2-0 over King’s on Sept. 16.

Head coach Charles O’Toole is waiting to see how the newcomers will stack up
over the season.

“We have 15 newcomers and they all bring individual talents. It’s just a matter of blending that talent with the chemistry of the team and hopefully that pans out over the nine remaining games,” O’Toole said.

It’s important to note that the squad only has five returning players. O’Toole
believes their experience can influence the rookies.

“We’re getting five returning players, so their experience with being with us for one, possibly two years already and bringing in our talented new rookies we expect to at least finish in the top two.”

The coach is confident in his roster and expects a high finish from his boys

“Obviously, [the aim is] to finish in the top two, three if we have to, and get back to the national championships and hopefully with a provincial title behind us.”

It’ll be very exciting to see how much of an impact the new rookies can have and how fast they can gel. Chemistry will have to be one of the major factors this season, especially with all of the new faces on the roster.

Last season, the men finished strong in the conference with an 8-2-0 record – only three points behind King’s College which finished first in the conference.

It should be an exciting season ahead for both the women and men as they both
look to achieve a spot at nationals. If each team manages to make it to the national championships that would also mean at least two provincial titles from both squads.

NAIT is known for having excellent and successful soccer teams and this season
should be no different. With hard work and consistency, we can definitely expect
a strong campaign from both squads. The belief is there and now it’s just a matter of applying it.

– Matt Wozniak
– Photo by Tim Potter