(FREDERICTON, NB) There aren’t many people who are eager for summer to end.
Miles Pinsent doesn’t mind.
The head coach of the UNB Varsity Reds men’s soccer team says this is his favourite time of year. “I feel as though I’m the only person in New Brunswick who looks forward to the end of summer.”
For Pinsent, and his team, the end of summer means the start of their new season.
The three-time defending Atlantic University Sport champions open the 2016 season on Saturday, in Sydney, against the Cape Breton University Capers. Game time is 3:15PM.
That’s the same place they began last season with a 5-1 loss.
Then, the Varsity Reds roster was riddled with injuries.
This year, they go to Sydney a healthier bunch. And health is something fourth-year midfielder Marcus Lees is hoping to maintain.
“We need to manage our health as best we can,” says Lees. “Last season we started off with a lot of injuries, and some players struggled to pick themselves back up. I think, with our staff, we should have no problem if all our athletes buy into the system.”
The system Lees speaks of is a simple one. It revolves around hard work.
Coach Pinsent says it’s what he wants most from his players.
“Our expectations are that we will work hard and do everything we can to give ourselves a chance for success.”
“Our athletes need to hold themselves accountable with constant determination on performing our best,” says Lees.
The Varsity Reds finished last season with an 8-2-3 record. They went on to win their third AUS title in as many years, and capture the silver medal at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship.
But, key components of that team have graduated, including keepers Brandon Eagle and Adam Grant.
Second year keeper Kristian D’Amore has been joined by rookies Evan Barker and Ike Phillips in the UNB net.
That turnover is part of life in sports at the university level.
“Teams are always changing,” says Pinsent. “Senior players graduate, returning players are a year better, new players are trying to earn a role. This is the nature of university sport.”
In front of the keepers, Pinsent will employ a rich mix of veteran and new talent.
“I think our experience should help us as we prepare for upcoming opponents and manage our way through the season.”
Along with Lees, who was a second team All Canadian last season, there is Diego Padilha and Kalen Park, who were both named all stars at the CIS championship tournament.
Ben Gorringe and Jacob Goudy excelled as rookies last season, and it’s hoped their development will continue.
Lees is excited and ready to get started.
“I hope to leave my mark on this fantastic university, and end the year with knowing I gave 150-percent in my commitment to the program.”
After Saturday’s game in Sydney, the Varsity Reds visit St. FX on Sunday.
They’ll play their first home game, against the Memorial University Sea Hawks, on Saturday, September 17th, at BMO Centre. Game time is 3:15PM.