The bitterness of defeat still lingers fresh in the minds of the returning players of the Douglas College Royals men's soccer team. By all accounts, the Royals had an incredible season on the pitch, but fell just short of winning it all, losing to hosts VIU Mariners in the final match of last year's CCAA National Championship and settling for a silver medal. And while a second place finish at nationals and a PACWEST conference gold medal marked the best season for the Royals since their historic season in 2005, the returning players are left hungering for more.
Head coach Robby Toor believes that "expectations are quite high this year" for Douglas College after the Royals came so close to attaining national championship glory. Toor said that "it's always nice to win a silver medal", but that the players see the loss in the final as a huge missed opportunity, and that the target for the upcoming season is to return to the final and come out on top.
The lineup will undergo considerable changes from last year's decorated side, but Toor feels that the Royals have retained a solid core of veteran players and can build around it with new recruits, and returning players who can step up and take a spot in the lineup.
Midfielders Edris Najm, Race Williams and PACWEST Rookie of the Year Tomi Fagopngbe will be an important part of Toor's core of returning players, along with defender Nawaf Binsaleh.
Among the new recruits is Team BC defender Burhan Waisy, who will be an excellent piece for the back line. Waisy represented British Columbia at the 2017 Canada Games in Winnipeg. Striker Joshua Penny is a new transfer from the TRU Wolfpack, and several other recruits will bolster an already strong Royals lineup.
The head coach certainly believes that the Royals will get off to a strong start. "The preseason has gone well, and the guys have really vibed together, and think we're going to hit the ground running."
The Royals will kick off their 2018 season at home when they host the Langara Falcons at Cunnings Field on Saturday, with the match scheduled for 3:30 pm.