With one week of hard training behind it, the UPEI Panthers men’s soccer team will continue preparing for the 2014 Atlantic University Sport season at home this weekend.
The Panthers will play three pre-season matches as part of the annual Vince Mulligan Cup tournament at UPEI.
The Panthers will face the P.E.I. FC senior men’s team tonight at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, the Panthers will take on the Holland College Hurricanes at 3 p.m. and the Moncton Blue Eagles on Sunday at 2 p.m.
“It will be great to see the team out again this year,” said Vince Mulligan, host of the tournament. “I’m looking forward to following them especially this year with UPEI hosting the (Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championships) in November.”
With 33 players still left in camp, it’s been a hectic week and the Panther coaches have been agonizing on reducing the roster in preparation for the upcoming season.
The three weekend games will give the new recruits in camp a chance to prove they belong and the veterans will have to show they deserve a returning slot on the team.
“Its been a great camp in terms of interest from players who come out and want to play for the team,” said coach Lewis Page. “We also really need to balance the needs of this year’s team with the needs of the future teams going forward and that’s always the challenge when you’re looking at new players.”
The squad will be bolstered with midfielders Jared Murphy and Logan Dawson and fullback Dillon Wight coming back for their fifth and final year.
Midfielder Adam Lowther, fullback Kieran Dutton and and midfielder Brett Hogan are also fifth-year veterans and, combined with fourth-year striker Cole MacMillan along with transfer student striker James Millard, will provide a formidable punch up front and in the midfield.
Veteran keepers Brett MacDonald and Trevor White are also returning.
“We have a great core of fifth- and fourth-year players and we’ve also got a good crop of third-year players in behind them, like the Mark Ashleys and Eric DeSilvas,” said Page. “You know we’ve got a good balance in the team right now.”
Page returns for his 15th year with UPEI and is backed up by assistants Bruce Norton, Dave Snowie and former Panther star Goran Rudic.