By Kirk Jessome
Coming off of a very strong 2018-19 season that included a return to the AUS playoffs, the Tigers men’s soccer team is looking to build on last season’s successful 7-3-2 record.
Leading the way is Freddy Bekkers for a fifth and final season, who will once again command the midfield and look to link up with the scoring talent of Enrico Rodriguez up front for the bulk of the Tigers offence.
With the graduation of captain and previous goal-scoring leader, Kallen Heenan, Rodriguez will look to his continue his scoring ways after a breakout offensive season where he found the back of the net six times last year.
In the backfield, keeper Ben Grondin is coming off of a stellar season in which he was the league-leader in saves made with 61. Grondin also collected eight clean sheets during the season and with some young talent on the back-line, he’s likely to repeat that performance.
The young group in the defensive-third was impressive last season, not allowing a goal through the first eight games of the season, and claiming the third-best goals-against average and total goals against in the league. With some continued development, and the return of Jeff Arkin who returns to the team after a year hiatus, the Tigers will be a strong defensive force in the AUS this season.
A consistent offensive threat in his high school and club career, first-year midfielder Obaid Hedayat is sure to make an immediate impact on the Tigers offence that is already home to one of the best attacking midfielders in the conference.
If the offence can remain sharp during the back-stretch of the season and into the playoffs, the Tigers will certainly be a threat in the hunt for the AUS conference banner.
"The AUS men’s soccer league is always one of the toughest in the country," says head coach Pat Nearing. "It's always very close and competitive. We hope to get off to a good start this weekend to help set up a successful season. The players are excited to get things going and our away game at Moncton is a great place to start. Playing in a wonderful stadium there is always exciting and elevates the game. Moncton have a very athletic team and have played a lot of pre-season games. We hope to match their athleticism and use our experience to get a result.”
The Tigers open their 2019-20 campaign this Friday when they travel to Moncton. The Tigers home-opener will be Sunday, September 8th, when they play host to Acadia at 3:15pm on Wickwire Field.