University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer coach Alan Errington would love nothing more than for his squad to emulate the amazing breakthrough the Cascades women’s side staged last season.
And the biggest thing the UFV men require as they seek their first-ever Canada West playoff berth, according to the veteran bench boss, is a little bit of belief.
“You can’t just flick a switch and say, ‘Yeah, we believe we’re good,'” Errington said. “You have to earn that. It sometimes just takes a game or an incident or something where you dig deep and get something out of it. Then the belief starts to come.
“All of a sudden, they go out with a completely different mental attitude than in previous games. That’s where we’re trying to get to.
“It’s inspiring, because the women have gotten over that hurdle. I think we’re still searching for that, but it’ll only take the once. And once you get in the playoffs, it’s anybody’s game.”
In terms of talent, Errington has plenty at his disposal this season. He’s particularly excited about the addition of nine players from the Magnuson Ford Mariners FC under-18 side, which he also coaches. The Mariners won the B.C. ‘A’ Cup in July, and they’re headed to the national championships in Fredricton, N.B. from Oct. 5-10 – which is fortunately a bye week for UFV.
In order to maintain the Mariners’ chemistry, Errington has had them scrimmage against the UFV veterans on several occasions, which has produced some intense, high-quality training sessions.
He expects several of the Abbotsford rookies to make an instant impact with the university side, most notably right back Colton O’Neill, who played every minute during the Cascades’ recent three-game exhibition tour in California. Errington believes O’Neill is one of the best in his age group in Canada.
“With the boys from the under-18s, they just slot right in,” Errington said, noting they’re already familiar with the structure he wants to see. “In some cases, they’re ahead of boys who have been here one or two years, because they play the right way, they know what they’re doing, and they buy into it.”
Key upperclassmen for the Cascades include striker Craig Robinson, midfielder Sasa Plavsic, and defender Trevor O’Neill (Colton’s older brother) who will serve as team captain.
• The Cascades face a pair of stiff tests to open the Canada West season, as they visit Trinity Western (Sept. 9) and UBC (Sept. 10).