Vancouver, BC – Another seven days are in the books, and another weekend of Canada West men’s and women’s soccer is in the past. While the 2019 U SPORTS Women’s National Champion UBC Thunderbirds had an off-week, most other schools were back in action as they continued their chase for a positive start to the season.
Let’s go for a kickabout around Canada West.
WSOC: Calgary stays perfect, Leonard cracks top 20
Coming off a Canada West title in 2019, expectations were reasonably high for the Calgary Dinos to challenge once again in 2021. Four games into the new season, the Dinos are looking every part the champion they were in 2019, boasting a 4-0-0 record after three weeks.
After opening their season on the road with wins at Mount Royal, Alberta, and MacEwan, the Dinos returned home for the first time in 2021, welcoming the Lethbridge Pronghorns with a 4-0 thrashing.
Fifth-year forward Montana Leonard has been on a tear to start the season, scoring seven goals in four games, including another hat-trick against Lethbridge this past weekend. With her quick start to the campaign, she has vaulted her way into the Top-20 goalscorers in Canada West since 1986, level with former Alberta Panda Sara Joly and former Lethbridge Pronghorn, Niki Furukawa.
The Dinos pushed forward throughout the entire match and could have had more goals if not for nine stops by Pronghorns goalkeeper Erin Gill, who also made sure that Leonard did not rack up seven goals from seven shots.
Everything is going right for Head Coach Troye Flannery and the Dinos. The only teams looking similar to their quality are Trinity Western and UBC in the other division, who they cannot see until the playoffs.
WSOC: Regina Cougars exceeding expectations
It is no surprise that the Calgary Dinos are thriving, but a division over in the East Division, things are heating up early. While 49 Sports predicted the USask Huskies to walk away with the first seed, the Regina Cougars are outperforming expectations and giving the Huskies a run for their money.
The Cougars picked up four of six possible points in their home-opening weekend games against the Winnipeg Wesmen and currently sit just a game back of the Huskies for the division lead.
Freshman forward Peyton Enns, a product of the Bonivital SC & Valour FC Elite Girls program, has taken the U SPORTS level with stride, scoring a brace against Winnipeg to bring her up to three goals in four games and fourth in the Canada West goalscoring race. It is invaluable for any team to have such a prolific forward, but for the Cougars to get their goals from a first-year is even more impressive.
This upcoming weekend will be a big test for Regina, as they battle their provincial rival USask in a home and home series. Regina goes into first place with two wins, while four points would see them level with the Huskies.
Canucks At School Player of the Week: Montana Leonard
MSOC: TRU Wolfpack off to a blistering start
Even without fans in the stands in Kamloops, BC, the Thompson Rivers Wolfpack are making sure they’re in the playoff hunt when supporters return to the stands of Hillside Stadium.
Before the first kick, 49 Sports predicted the Wolfpack to qualify for the playoffs but finish fourth in the BC division. Yet, after four matches of undefeated action, the Wolfpack are making a case to come top-three.
On opening weekend, they stole points twice with two draws against a heavily favoured UBC side, and this weekend against UFV, they came away with four points on the road. Two weekends in, and Head Coach John Antulov has to like what he sees at the beginning of his 15th season with the Wolfpack.
2019 leading goalscorer James Fraser has picked up where he left off, scoring at a .5 goals-per-game clip and putting himself in a tie for the league lead in goals. However, he has done it dramatically, scoring last-minute point-gabbing goals-against UBC and UBCO. “It’s pretty exciting for the fans, but definitely for the coaching staff; it puts a couple extra years on our life for sure,” said Antulov to TRU Athletics on the last-minute winners against UBCO.
While Fraser has led the line, he is level on goals with freshman defender Mikkel Rosenlund, who has scored two goals from the back, pushing the Wolfpack to their positive start. The Danish-born defender had not played in Canada before joining the Wolfpack but has changed the makeup of a once individually reliant TRU side.
With upcoming matches against high-quality opponents in UVic and Trinity Western, the next two weeks will uncover how good the 2021 Wolfpack team is. Still, regardless of how the next two weeks go, they have had an incredible start.
MSOC: UVic Vikes stingy defence puts them atop the division
Things have gotten off the unexpected smooth start for the UVic Vikes, who sit atop the BC Division after four matches and two weeks. For a team that Canada West coach’s picked to finish eighth in the conference, the start can only be seen as a positive.
Led by Harrison Ritter-West, Hamish Ogden and goalkeeper Harjot Nijjar, the Vancouver Islanders are grinding out wins, despite not scoring in bunches. In a two-match visit to the UFV Cascades this weekend, the Vikes kept two clean sheets, scored one goal but came away from their business trip with four points and the top spot in the Pacific Division.
While the Vikes are stringing together good results and boast a 2-0-2 record, they are winning points by the finest of margins in a way that is unlikely to be sustainable. With the season shortened from a regular year, fewer games could work in their favour if they can continue to grind out wins, but do not be shocked to see the Vikes slip off top spot next weekend when they face the aforementioned Thompson Rivers Wolfpack.
Canucks at School Player of the Week: James Fraser (TRU Wolfpack)
Cover Photo: Calgary Dinos Athletics