MSOC | Kodiaks overpower Red Deer in 3-0 win
Sept. 9, 2017 – As he was recruiting during the off-season, Kodiaks head coach Sean Carey knew he wanted to assemble a lineup with one defining attribute in mind – speed.
It's only one game into the season but it appears the early returns on his new look roster are favourable.
The Kodiaks met rival Red Deer College in their home opener Saturday afternoon, and wasted no time exciting the crowd at the Servus Soccer Centre outdoor field. After an intense four-week training camp, the Kodiaks were eager to get into regular season play and came out firing on all cylinders early.
After a pulsating opening thirty minutes featuring numerous Kodiaks chances, first-year forward Jimmy Bukuru finally solved Red Deer goaltender Talon Grenier in the 41st minute. Grenier knocked down a distance shot from Kodiaks midfielder Nathan Burton, but Bukuru was there to pounce on the rebound. While Grenier made an initial in-close save, Bukuru kept with it and drilled it home for the Kodiaks first goal of the season.
Lethbridge kept the pressure up to close the half but only led 1-0 heading into the break. Once the second half resumed, however, it didn't take long for them to extend their lead, courtesy of the Ntignee brothers.
After minutes of constant pressure, second year halfback Wilson Ntignee made it two-nil on a beautiful in close chip shot in the 55th minute.
Not to be outdone by his brother, Peter Ntignee took advantage of a handball penalty kick in the 74th minute to stretch the Kodiaks lead to 3-0.
Red Deer hung with the Kodiaks tight throughout the match, but struggled to generate any sustained pressure in the offensive end. The Kings directed just three shots on Kodiaks goalkeeper Kohl Wandyka, while the Kodiaks finished with nine shots on net.
Carey was thrilled with his team's performance, and says that it sets the team up nicely for the rest of the season.
"It feel fantastic. The boys worked their butts off that game" expressed Carey after his first game behind the bench. "I thought the first half was a great display of the skill that we have, the work ethic, the willingness to go in front of the ball for their teammates. It sets us up for the season."
While Carey expected some rust in their home opener, he was pleasantly surprised with his teams hyper-energetic start.
"That first game you expect to get rid of some rust, but we came out flying. Like, we really did that first half. I think we could have had two or three more and been up comfortable at the half, but kudos to Red Deer because they stuck with it, and in the second half they had some good phases of play. But our boys got a couple of timely goals and kept at it.
The Kodiaks forward line thrilled the rambunctious crowd with dazzling displays of speed and ball handling. Carey had nothing but praise for the play of Jimmy Bukuru, who was named the Kodiaks player of the game.
"Jimmy played really well. He's just busy. He doesn't give the defence a breather, he's always on them" praised Carey. "He's got a nice skill set and it's exciting to see the guy play like that. He creates so much space from other players."
Also making their mark were the Ntignee brothers, the Kodiaks soccer version of the Sedin twins. Carey expects the pair to push each other throughout the year, which will translate to success for the entire team as a whole.
"Those guys definitely feed off each other" describes Carey. "If you're out on the field, they're always looking for each other. They've got a bit of a rivalry going in terms of goal scoring, so when we had the [handball] penalty shot I don't think there was any question who was taking it. Peter just grabbed that ball. He wanted it."
"It's a friendly rivalry with those two, but it's like they're telepathic. They know where each other are on the field."
Next up: Lethbridge hosts Lakeland College (0-0-1) tomorrow afternoon in a match at the Servus Soccer Centre outdoor field. Game time is 2 p.m. Red Deer travels to Medicine Hat to take on the Rattlers (0-0-1).
Players of the game
LC – Jimmy Bukuru
RDC – Koltan Childs