By: Giulia Barile
For this new look Lancer men’s soccer team, the 2017 season was a learning experience. With this exposure competing with the best teams in the province, the team is ready to make a bigger impact moving forward.
Having an entirely new coaching staff and ten new players, the team knew this past season would be a transition. Many players graduated from the previous year as well, leaving them with a lot of fresh faces.
The Lancers finished the season with a 5-8-3 record which earned them the sixth position in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West division. They then went on to face the third place Guelph Gryphons on the road in the first round of the playoffs but went on to lose that game by a score of 2-0.
Fourth-year midfielder, Bryce Phillips, was expecting a better result this season but knows important experience was gained by him and his teammates.
“I was hoping the season would go a little better than it did, although it is understandable due to it being the first year with a new coach, a new style, and a number of rookie players,” Phillips explained. “I do think a good foundation with an ability to build upon it was started this year, with the next few years looking more positive.”
First-year head coach, Steve Vagnini, came in with high expectations and was aiming for more than just simply making the playoffs.
“In the transition of things it was alright, but I wasn’t happy with it,” Vagnini said.
Now Vagnini will have his first full offseason as the Lancer head coach and he knows there is still a lot of work to be done. He has already begun the process of recruiting to add to the existing talent on the team.
“Recruiting started as soon as I got hired last year. Recruitment has to start local and we’ve been working with these kids for a year now. I know who I want,” Vagnini explained.
Fourth-year defender, Anthony Pollock, will be returning to play his fifth and final season with the team next fall. He knows they are not yet championship contenders, but with a few more additions they will be able to compete with the best.
“I wouldn’t label us a contender yet, but with the right recruits and returning veterans, we will definitely be dangerous,” Pollock said.
When asked about the key to becoming a championship team, Pollock says the coaching is what is most important.
“Our coach Steve will get us there. He brings an endless amount of energy that resonates with each player. The team understands how he is now, so individually we must set expectations that surpass his. The program is in good hands right now and I’m excited to see what’s in store for the future,” Pollock said.
The offseason is well underway, the players have some time to relax, but starting in the new year it is time to get back to work.
Vagnini knows the foundation is in place and the team is moving in the right direction.
“I have the best assistant coach in the league in Max Samsa,” Vagnini said. “We need players that are going to buy into the system and are ready. We have everything in place, the school has everything in place, now we just need to start winning.”
The Lancer men’s soccer team knows the future can be bright with their young team if they continually put in the work in the days to come. They know that success is not something that happens overnight.
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