(VANCOUVER, BC) On a day that was more September than November, the UNB Reds moved through a fast-paced training session.
The sun shone brightly over the University of British Columbia campus, and temperatures hovered in the mid-teens.
“We’re excited to be here,” said Miles Pinsent, head coach of the Reds men’s soccer team. “It’s a beautiful day, it’s a beautiful campus.”
The near perfect conditions were in stark contrast to where the Reds had just come from.
On Sunday, UNB fell 2-0 to the Cape Breton Capers in the Atlantic University Sport championship game.
The CBU turf was cold, wind-swept and rain-soaked.
The outcome wasn’t what UNB was looking for, still Pinsent expressed some satisfaction.
“We played the defending national champs, they had an undefeated season, we were pleased with how we played against them,” said Pinsent. “We’re taking some confidence out of that performance, knowing that the teams we play here are going to be good, but probably aren’t going to be at the same standards as what we saw earlier in the week.”
After the Reds spirited and up tempo practice on Tuesday, fourth-year midfielder and team captain Ben Gorringe echoed Pinsent’s sentiment.
“You can’t ask for much more than playing the national champions before heading to this tournament,” said Gorringe. “We’re pretty lucky to have Cape Breton in our conference to prepare us for this tournament.”
The Reds, winners of nine of their last eleven games, drew the fifth seed in the 2018 U SPORTS men’s soccer championship. They’ll face the fourth seeded l’Universitè de Montreal Carabins in Thursday’s quarter-final round.
Other quarter-final round match-ups include No. 1 York versus No. 8 Trinity Western, the second seeded Capers versus No. 7 l’Universitè de Quebec at Montreal, and the host and third seeded UBC Thunderbirds versus No. 6 Carleton.
The Reds will practice again Wednesday, in preparation for Thursday’s game.
“We have to manage ourselves,” said Gorringe. “There’s not much left that we can do, we’ve been training all year for November. We’ve just got to manage our emotions and be ready to come out on Thursday.”
First-year back Alex Dodgshon, in his first trip to the national championship tournament, believes UNB has a real chance be successful.
“The positivity and inspiration of being in Vancouver, and knowing and understanding that we’ve got a chance here,” he said. “We really feel like we’re here, not just here to take part, but we feel like we’re here to take over.”
Taking over is a three-step journey at this point in the season, against the best teams in the country.
It requires commitment and focus, but it also allows for a little fun.
“We’ll just keep the boys in a routine as much as we can,” said Pinsent. “Training, some time set aside for school, but we’re also in, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, so we’re also going to want to make sure we get out and see a bit of the sights.”
“We’re a couple of days away from competition, so we just try and stay relaxed, but at the same time stay focused on what needs to get done,” he said.
Thursday’s quarter-final game against Montreal is scheduled to start at 5:30pm Atlantic, or 1:30pm Pacific.
RECAP AND PHOTOS BY: Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics