By Kirk Jessome
Coming off of a tremendous season of improvement, some key additions up front and on the back line have the Tigers women’s soccer team primed to be a threat in the AUS once again this season.
After posting a solid 7-3-2 record last season bolstered by a stellar season by rookie keeper Kate Fines, the young group has another year of experience under their belts and have even more help stepping in.
With the graduation of Meagan McKenna, the team’s leading scorer last season, the Tigers added some more depth up front in Halifax County players Zoe Brown and Josie Oickle. Both Brown and Oickle were members of Team Nova Scotia for the last four years and bring a wealth of scoring talent and athleticism to the squad.
Helping out on the back line will be Nicole Solie, who finished up an impressive provincial team career as a team captain for Saskatchewan at the 2017 Canada Games. Solie will be a welcome addition to a back line that also contains fifth-year leader Taylor Goodwin playing in front of Fines.
The Tigers look to improve on their third-place ranking from last season and push even deeper into the playoffs after being ousted in the quarterfinal last year. With this group of veteran experience, and young talent, a championship season is within sight.
With a strong veteran roster returning to the pitch, the men’s soccer team looks to have a bounce back year after falling short of the playoffs with a 4-6-2 record last season.
The group will be led by last year’s leading goal scorer Kallen Heenan up front, and total point leader Freddy Bekkers controlling the midfield. Heenan and Bekkers combined for nearly half of the squad’s total points during the 2017-18 season.
With defenders Jeff Arkin and former captain Jonathan Doucett gone, the Tigers have brought in Alex Knesaurek to step up in a big way. The 6’3 defender is a highly touted recruit out of the Toronto area and will look to make an immediate impact in controlling the game.
Also looking to step up for the Tigers this season will be second-year keeper Ben Grondin. After earning a 1-1-1 record with a clean sheet in the victory in his rookie season, Grondin will bear much of the load this year with the graduation of veteran keeper TJ Leopold.
Finishing up the pre-season with a 2-1-1 record, the Tigers look ready make an impact on the conference and push for a run into the playoffs.
Both teams will start their regular season campaigns this Friday, taking on the cross-town rival Saint Mary’s Huskies in the HFX Derby. The women kickoff at 5:00pm, followed by the men at 7:15pm. Both games will be played at the Wanderer’s Grounds, with the remaining Tigers home games back on campus at Wickwire Field.