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LANGLEY, British Columbia – Coming off back-to-back Canada West medals-winning seasons, Trinity Western’s men’s soccer team returns a veteran squad that is primed to take a run at its first conference championship since 2007.

Last year’s title hopes vanished in heartbreaking fashion when the Spartans saw a two-goal second half lead evaporate in the conference championship, before ultimately losing in an overtime thriller against UBC. However, from the roster that was on the pitch that night, the Spartans return every single player except Elie Gindo. Thus, a hungry group – heavy on fourth and fifth-year players – is back this fall and set to build on the Canada West bronze medal the team won in 2016 and last year’s silver medal.

TWU season-opening action was set for this weekend, but Saturday’s game against UBC Okanagan has been postponed due to the poor air quality in Kelowna, B.C. A decision on Sunday’s game against Thompson Rivers will be made Friday afternoon.

The Spartans home-opener is August 31 (7:15 p.m.) when TWU hosts Victoria at Chase Office Field.

“We’re obviously optimistic about the season. It’s hard not to be when you’re bringing back a veteran team. We’ve gone from being pretty young when I first started (two years ago) to now when we have fourth and fifth-year players for the most part. It’s time to deliver. I think we’re in a good spot, but in the end it’s soccer and anything can happen in Canada West. If you don’t come to play or if you have a string of bad luck – even though I think you make your own luck – you never know what can happen. I think we’re good, but we’ll find out at the end of the season.”

With Sebastian Colyn (Langley) back for his second season with the Spartans, the young netminder who was named to the Canada West All-Rookie Team last year will once again solidify TWU’s back end. As a rookie, Colyn was fourth in Canada West with a 1.05 goals against average, while earning five clean sheets and helping TWU to an 8-4-4 record. Colyn will be backed up first-year Michael Boehmer (Okanagan Fall, B.C.)

With last year’s entire back line returning plus the addition of highly-touted first-year Noah Kroeker (Calgary), the Spartans defence will be a tough nut to crack. Look for Vaggeli Boucas (Langley) and Scott Poffenroth (Calgary) to patrol the park from the middle, while Caleb Johnson (Calgary), Austin Kasian (Calgary), Bryce Prochnau (Edmonton) and Kroeker will provide Shearon with plenty of highly dynamic options on the outside.

While the holes left by Gindo and Wingfield will certainly have to be made up, TWU’s returning midfield group is in a position to be every bit as good as last year, if not better. With a healthy Joel Waterman (Aldergrove, B.C.) set to start the season – he was injured for the first half of last year – the Spartans will have one of the best players in Canada West on the pitch from the opening whistle. Waterman will be joined by fellow veterans Domenic Poletto (Calgary), Josh Hardy (Burnaby), Jacob Low (Port Moody, B.C.), Matthew Roxburgh (Langley), Vito Poletto (Calgary) and Aidan Moore (Langley) as part of an impressive midfield contingent that has plenty of attacking flair.

Up front, Leighton Johnson (Calgary), who scored six goals and added six assists while being named a Canada West Second Team All-Star last year, will once again be a dangerous threat every time he’s on the pitch. Along with Johnson, look for the ever-improving Cody Fransen (Lynden, Wash.) to take on an ever larger role in this year's outfit.

2018 CW pre-season coaches poll rank: 3rd
2017 CW regular season record: 8-4-4, 2nd in Pacific Division
2017 CW post-season record: 2-1, 2nd
Head coach: Mike Shearon (3rd season) / 17-9-6 (CW career regular season record)
Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2007 / 3
Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: none

2017 CW regular season ranks:
Offence: 31 goals for, 2nd in CW
Defence: 16 goals against, 4th in CW

2017 CW regular season leaders:
Goals: 6 – Leighton Johnson, Forward
Assists: 6 – Leighton Johnson, Forward
Points: 12 – Leighton Johnson, Forward
Wins: 8 – Sebastian Colyn, Goalkeeper
Shutouts: 5 – Sebastian Colyn, Goalkeeper

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):
Noah Kroeker / D / 1 / Calgary, AB / Foothills FC
Bryce Prochnau / D / 4 / Edmonton, AB / McEwan
Eric Aulja / M / 1 / Langley / Aldergrove, BC / Langley Fundamental

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):
Elie Gindo / M / Langley, BC / 5
Sebastian Wingfield / M / Dupont, WA / 5

Sat. 25 at UBC Okanagan * 3:00 PM (POSTPONED)
Sun. 26 at Thompson Rivers * 1:00 PM
Fri. 31 Victoria * 6:30 PM

Sun. 2 at UBC * 2:00 PM
Fri. 7 at UNBC * 6:00 PM
Sat. 8 at UNBC * 6:00 PM
Sat. 15 at MacEwan * 11:00 AM
Sun. 16 at Lethbridge * 1:15 PM
Sat. 22 Alberta * 7:15 PM
Fri. 28 TRU * 7:15 PM
Sat. 29 UBCO * 7:15 PM

Fri. 5 UFV * 7:15 PM
Sun. 7 at UFV * 4:00 PM
Fri. 12 at Victoria * 7:15 PM
Sat. 13 UBC * 7:15 PM

Sat. 27 Quarter-Finals

Nov. 3-4 Canada West Final Four (Hosted by highest Prairie Division seed)
Nov. 8-11 U SPORTS Championship (UBC)

About TWU
Recognized for quality, TWU has received seven consecutive A+ rankings for Quality of Teaching and Learning, holds three Canada Research Chairs, and wins national championships in CIS sports. More importantly, lives are changed at TWU through its whole-person, Christ-centred approach to education. With a wide array of undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree-completion programs, TWU equips leaders of character and competence to make a positive impact in the lives of others.

About Spartan Athletics
As official members of U SPORTS, the Spartans currently compete in 10 sports in the Canada West conference, including women’s and men’s soccer, volleyball, basketball, cross country and track & field. TWU also competes in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) in men’s hockey. Since TWU entered U SPORTS in 1999, the Spartans have won 11 U SPORTS team championships and 25 Canada West team championships.