After a season that saw the Red Deer Polytechnic Kings fall out of the soccer championships in the quarter-finals, the team wants to bounce back this year and fight for the top spot with the SAIT Trojans and the rest of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) South Division.
Last year, the Kings finished the regular season in second place in their respective division with four wins, five ties and just one loss. This includes an incredible 1-1 draw against the Trojans in Calgary, which was one of the season's biggest highlights as the Kings were the only team to take a point away from SAIT all last year.
After a huge win against the Olds College Broncos in a play-in game for the ACAC Championships hosted by Lethbridge College, the Kings would bow out after being defeated 2-1 by the Keyano College Huskies in the quarterfinals.
Overall, Head Coach Admir Sarcevic explained he was quite happy with the team’s performance last season but is ready for the new challenges that the new campaign brings.
“There are going to be some changes. We have some returning players plus transfer, international and new student-athletes. I believe the squad is stronger this season. Training is going very well and the pre-season tournament was an eye-opener on what we can expect from the team this year with the 2023/2024 season right around the corner.”
Serbian defender Njegos Bajovic (Open Studies) was one of the biggest signings for Sarcevic and the Kings this past off-season as he will really strengthen their backline. But the coach also keyed in on Nicholas Sheasgreen(Open Studies)and Kohen Meckelborg (Bachelor of Business Administration) who are a couple of transfer student-athletes from Northwestern Polytechnic, who have experience playing in the ACAC which is always an asset.
Alongside the 2023/2024 recruitment class, Sarcevic also will be returning eight student-athletes to the team. One of which is their captain, Ajdin Sarcevic (Bachelor of Business Administration) who led the Kings in goals and assists. Ajdin was also named to the ACAC South Division All-Conference team and was a finalist for the Red Deer Bottling Male Athlete of the Year.
The Kings head coach said Ajdin will be huge for the team, but the other seven returning players will also play a key role if the team wants to fight for the number one spot in the South.
“Ajdin is going to be huge for the team. But our rookies like Jaeden Swartz and Grant Johnson from last year really showed the coaching staff that they can handle the workload and the pressure of playing in the ACAC.”
As for expectations, Sarcevic wants to challenge for the division's top spot of the division but a more realistic goal he mentioned was to make provincials and go from there. He adds that the compacted schedule brings forward certain challenges like injuries and suspensions which can turn things around in a hurry and affect the team’s performance.
The Kings will kickstart their season on the road against the Lethbridge College Kodiaks on September 9 at 4 p.m. and will follow that with another road match against the Medicine Hat College Rattlers at 2 p.m.
The first home game of their 2023/2024 campaign will be against the Ambrose University Lions on September 23 at 2 p.m
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