Kodiaks confident with high expectations entering ACAC soccer playoffs

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WATCH: The Lethbridge College Kodiaks men’s and women’s soccer teams will hit the pitch for ACAC playoff games starting Friday. As Danica Ferris reports, the expectations for both squads are high after a pair of promising regular season performances.

At first glance, the casual soccer fan might think there were some typos on the Alberta College’s Athletic Conference (ACAC) website’s women’s soccer scores; some of the Lethbridge College Kodiaks games have had results that look more like hockey scores.

Through the six-game regular season, only once did Lethbridge put up less than four goals in a game; twice netting six and once finding the net 12 times in 90 minutes, against the Olds College Broncos.

“You know it’s a high-risk, high-reward kind of game, but we want that, we want to be entertaining,” said head coach Sean Carey, who’s in charge of both the college’s women’s and men’s teams.

Read more: Lethbridge College Kodiaks soccer teams ready to build on ACAC gold, bronze medals 2 years later

The Kodiaks women totaled 33 goals through their six regular season games, and Olivia DePasquale was a major contributor to that high-octane offense.

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DePasquale led the team with nine goals in the regular season; but Carey says selfish play was never even a question with the second-year Kodiak, who also leads the entire ACAC with eight assists.

“That comes down to hard work, that comes down to leadership, and you know we’re thrilled that she’s going to be in the running for player of the year,” Carey said.

DePasquale didn’t take any credit when asked what’s clicked for her this season, instead crediting team chemistry and communication.

“I would say our communication as a whole. We’re great at working the ball around when we’re on our game, and it’s definitely hard for teams to defend us,” she said.

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The Kodiaks entered season with 16 rookies on the women’s roster. DePasquale was one of only a handful of players returning from 2019’s ACAC bronze medal-winning squad, and she says the rookies found their rhythm in short order.

“We have a lot of rookies putting up numbers this year, which is great — it’s great at building confidence — especially with a lot of those higher-scoring games,” she said.

Rookie Jayna Timinski says the group gelled quickly and easily, and it’s a season that’s been filled with plenty of fun.

“All of us just getting in there together, that’s what’s been successful, is just us working together as a team.”

Read more: Demers bringing confidence from the octagon to Kodiaks net after unique road to soccer

The Kodiaks women finished the regular season 5-1-0, with their lone loss coming on Oct. 1 to the SAIT Trojans.

Placing second in the south division standings resulted in Lethbridge receiving a bye through to the south semi-final at home on Sunday — when they will face the winner of Red Deer Polytechnic and Augustana.

But DePasquale says it’s tough not to look ahead to some potential revenge in the division final.

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“SAIT can be a bit of a tricky game. They have a tendency of getting under our skin, which is frustrating,” she said. “But we’re definitely working on pushing ourselves hard so we can get to that final.”

Kodiaks men peaking at the right time

On the men’s side, the Kodiaks rebounded from a season opening loss to finish 4-2-0, good for third in the south division.

They will host the Ambrose Lions in the south quarterfinal on Friday afternoon, a team that they have become quite familiar with recently.

“We beat this team twice in the last two weeks, 7-0 and 3-0, so on paper we should roll them, but I think they will come out hard,” said men’s captain Ben Knight.

Read more: Pronghorns start Canada West season strong with senior Abby Duguid leading the charge

Knight leads the Kodiaks — and sits third in the ACAC — with 16 point in six games; he will need to remain sharp for the club to have a shot at defending their 2019 ACAC title.

But veteran player Kenzel Aarts-Roman says the focus isn’t on what happened two years ago.

“We kind of just step back from that because it’s a whole different team that we have this year, a clean slate,” Aarts-Roman said.

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A win for the Kodiaks on Friday would send the men to the south division semi-final in Red Deer against the Red Deer Polytechnic Kings on Sunday afternoon.

For both the men and women the south division finals are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 23, with the ACAC gold and bronze medal games — also featuring teams from the north division — set for Oct. 30.

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