After V-Reds men’s soccer team fell short last season by losing in the conference semi-finals, head coach Miles Pinsent and his strong returning squad have high hopes for the upcoming year.
The UNB Varsity Reds men’s soccer team have a strong history, winning three of the last four conference championships and advancing to the national championships by each of those victories. These national showings did not go unfounded—with the V-Reds earning bronze and silver medals in the 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons respectively.
Unfortunately, their success came to a halt last season. After entering the championship tournament on a win streak of two games, the Reds were eliminated in the conference semi-finals by Acadia in a 1 – 0 loss.
“Our downfall last year was our lack of ability to break-down teams that wanted to pack in their defenses against us,” said coach Pinsent.
“Our inability to score timely goals was ultimately our undoing.”
Pinsent believes that this will change in the upcoming season; with 5th-year striker Robbie Park returning from injury and two newly recruited wingers—Tristan Nkoghe and Luis Garcia Orozco—the team is stacked to have more explosiveness in their front line.
Seniors Diego Padilha and Marcus Lees are returning to dominate the midfield. With both players coming off of conference All-Star team recognition going into their final years, they are sure to continue the success that contributed to the team’s strength in recent seasons. Marcus Lees led the team in points last season, with three goals and two assists.
Keeper Evan Barker is returning to the UNB net coming off of a stellar .930 save percentage from last season and an exciting summer season with WSA Winnipeg. Barker gained both first team All-Conference and second team All-Canadian recognition thanks to his performance last season, despite only being in his first year of eligibility.
Left-back Kalen Park will be joined by recruit Joe Hamilton, a centre-back from Morecambe, England. Coach Pinsent believes that this addition will help to strengthen the team’s already proven defense.
The UNB Varsity Reds are slotted to be the most experienced team in the AUS this season, with many players heading into their final year and others who have competed on the national and international levels.
“Kalen Park, Matt Mountney, Max Vitrotti, Diego Padilha, Robbie Park and Marcus Lees have all had a great deal of success during their time with the Varsity Reds,” said Pinsent. “This is their last season with UNB, and I know they are determined to make amends for last season and go out on top.”
With an early win in the pre-season, it’s looking like they’re doing just that.
The men’s side faced McGill University at home for an exhibition match on Aug. 27. Joe Hamilton had a strong showing with goal in the 4th minute to put the Varsity Reds up by one. McGill responded shortly after with a goal in the 17th minute by 5th year Michael McIntyre. Hamilton was joined in the 59th minute by his teammate Alex McNally. This addition by the 3rd year athlete from Mazerolle Settlement, NB, gave the V-Reds the advantage they needed to win.
V-Reds well-represented at FISU Universiade
Four players on the UNB Varsity Reds men’s soccer team competed at the FISU Universiade in Taiwan this past August. Marcus Lees, Kalen Park, Evan Barker and first-year Tristan Nkoghe were part of a team of players drawn from universities across the country to play at the international, multi-sport tournament. Placed in a difficult pool, Team Canada won one of their three games, placing them in the classification rounds and allowing them to play for 9th in the world at best. After winning their first two games of classification against the USA and South Africa respectively, they meet Brazil to compete for 9th or 10th on August 29th. Miles Pinsent joined the team as head coach for the games.
Despite the Universiade overlapping with UNB’s training camp, the team is unphased; in an interview with V-Reds communications manager Andy Campbell, Lees said that the shortened pre-season time may “present some challenges,” but by understanding that it may be an issue, they will “be able to address it.”
The Varsity Reds play the University of PEI on Tuesday, Sept. 29th at 11:00 a.m. on the BMO Field for a pre-season exhibition match. They meet the University of Maine Fort Kent on Sept. 3 at 11:00 a.m. for their third pre-season match.
Their first and second regular season games will be part of a Nova Scotia road trip, playing Acadia on the Sept. 8 at 7:15 p.m. and Dalhousie on the Sept. 9 at 5:15 p.m. You can find the Reds at their home-opener on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 3:15 p.m. against Cape Breton University, the conference champions from last season. All of the Varsity Reds’ away games can be viewed at AUStv.ca.