by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
Keyano Huskies become only the third Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) school, since 1983-1984, to win three or more consecutive ACAC Men's Soccer Championships as they defeated the NAIT Ooks 1-0 at Sherwood Park's Emerald Hills Sports Pavilion yesterday.
(The Mount Royal Cougars claimed eight consecutive banners from 1990-1998 while Ooks had a run of three titles 1987-1990)
Scoring the winning goal for the Huskies was Fort McMurray's very own Joseph Lambele (No. 17 file photo courtesy of Erwin Kuhr).
“Joseph (Lambele) is a very special player and he is just getting into his peak,” said Keyano Huskies’ head coach Murad Sukru, of the 18 year-old rookie. “He will do a lot of damage at nationals.”
Lambele, a graduate of Holy Trinity High School, scored at the 6:30 mark after taking a pass from teammate Haris Bajric that deflected off an Ooks’ defender, dribbling past two defenders before placing the ball low to right hand side to find the mesh.
Huskies’ Jonathan Breggeling recorded his second straight shutout.
“We had lots of (shots on NAIT goal) and we should have capitalized on them and put the game away early,” said Sukru. “I talked to them (Huskies players) about how to play soccer and they have grasped it.”
Huskies opened the tournament with a bye, advancing to the gold medal game following a semi-final 4-0 shutout of the Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder.
Scoring for the Huskies were Bajric, Lambele, Pedro Bianchi and Rodrigo Wogel Koebsch.
Lambele, who moved to Fort McMurray at the age of 13 from South Africa, said he is proud to wear Huskies’ colours.
“Graduating (from Holy Trinity High School) I thought that this would be the best program for me and the best opportunity,” said Lambele, who had two regular season goals in 10 appearances. “My mindset in the postseason was completely changed. At the beginning of the season, I did not play for the team, which is like a family now, but for myself. I realized that this could be the final games for many of my teammates and I was playing for my family and not for myself. I believed in the team more.”
The word “family” was installed several years ago with former Huskies men’s coach Connor Brady.
“Switching coaches this year, things were a little bit different,” admits fifth-year forward Pedro Bianchi, a four-time ACAC All-Conference selection. “The quality of the team is the same and the level of play was the same but we are always family.
“(Winning a third ACAC banner) was good…especially against NAIT our biggest rival and a team that has always been a good challenge for us. And to win in their house. It was special.”
Fellow Brazilian and also a fifth-year student/athlete, Rodrigo Wogel Koebsch, said he came into the 2017 ACAC campaign with new motivation.
“This is my final year and I think I took it more serious than before,” said Koebsch. “Not many players stick to one school for five years and are able to say that they have won three championships. Every year, we took the team as a family. We hanged out together, had fun together and work for each other on the field.”
NAIT opened with a 3-2 quarterfinal victory against the Medicine Hat Rattlers with two goals off the foot of Ali Musse and the winner at the 80th minute mark by Armando Garcia.
In the semi-final versus the SAIT Trojans, Ooks’ Musse and Armando Garcia made it 2-0 for the host school.
The ACAC bronze medal was capture by SAIT Trojans 1-0 with a 25th minute goal by Nick Moore to edge the Thunder.
Huskies and Ooks (ACAC Wildcard) now travel to Nanaimo, B.C. to participate in the 2017 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Men's Soccer Championships to be hosted by the Vancouver Island University Mariners.
Huskies won a silver at the 2016 CCAA finals which they hosted.
Ooks have captured two CCAA Men’s Soccer Championship banners with wins in 2011 and 1987.
Curtis J. Phillips Keyano College Huskies Sports Information Officer (780) 743-4853 h (780) 370-5675 c firstname.lastname@example.org
Murad Sukru Keyano Huskies Men’s and Women’s Soccer head coach (905) 536-5004 c 780- 791-8900 w email@example.com