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P.E.I. F.C. looking to earn victories this weekend on home turf

Nacho Sanchez, left, and Josh McKillop, right, defend against Sam Smiley during Thursday’s SoccerStop P.E.I. F.C. practice at the Norton Diamond Soccer Complex in Stratford.
Nacho Sanchez, left, and Josh McKillop, right, defend against Sam Smiley during Thursday’s SoccerStop P.E.I. F.C. practice at the Norton Diamond Soccer Complex in Stratford. - Jason Malloy

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Prince Edward Island’s top soccer team is looking to bank a few points this weekend as it seeks another championship.

SoccerStop P.E.I. F.C. hosts Fundy United today at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. in McCain New Brunswick Premier Soccer League action at UPEI.

P.E.I. F.C. (1-0-2) is three points back of Codiac First Touch (2-0-2) for top spot in the five-team circuit.

“I think the league is going to be very even this season, as it always is,” said striker Jared Murphy, who doubles as a coach for the squad with John O’Brien. “We don't want to dig ourselves a hole with any more ties (or) drop any more points, especially at home this weekend.”

He’s one of the veteran leaders along with Jimmie Mayaleh and Max Maund while the next wave of players like Nacho Sanchez and Sam Smiley are eager to keep the strong tradition the club has built going. P.E.I. F.C. is seeking its fifth straight league title.

“We go into the season hoping to come away with another title,” Murphy acknowledged.

The league also includes the Fredericton Reds, Codiac First Touch and a new squad, C.S. Dieppe.

Murphy said Fundy always has a strong squad with a lot of players from the UNBSJ Seawolves program.

“They always play a very physical, technical game. They play hard, and it will be two good games this weekend.”

The Island squad has seen some turnover on its roster in recent seasons, but it has provided youngers players a chance to take bigger roles after learning from veterans and others to push for spots.

“The team, I think, is getting younger and younger each year,” Murphy said with a laugh. “Either that or I’m getting older and older. I think it’s the latter of the two.”

A couple of this year’s additions will be familiar to Island soccer fans as a trio of UPEI Panthers has stayed in the province for the summer. Nova Scotia striker Mohammad Jaber and keeper Brett Strba as well as Lucas Ross, a midfielder from British Columbia, have added experience to the squad. They are among a number of Panthers who wear the P.E.I. F.C. uniform during the summer.

UPEI head coach Lewis Page said having his players stay and train with a strong P.E.I. F.C. squad will be a bonus in mid-August when they hit the turf to prepare for the upcoming Atlantic University Sport season.

“The more often they can train and play together the better it is for us. It will definitely give us a little head start to the season,” Page said. “To have theP.E.I. F.C. team up and running, and have our guys be able to play for it, is a huge asset for us.”

Strba gets a chance to practise with and watch Brandon Eagle, who played four seasons with the UNB Varsity Reds, during the summer.

P.E.I. F.C. is not planning on attending nationals this fall, but some of its players may join the New Brunswick representative, similar to what occurred a year ago.

Murphy said with the World Cup underway there’s more talk about soccer and he hopes it might bring more people out to watch the premier league action.


Roster

SoccerStop P.E.I. F.C.’s first team roster for McCain New Brunswick Premier Soccer League action.
1. Brandon Eagle
2. Brett Strba
3. Jared Murphy
4. Mohammed Jaber
5. Jimmie Mayaleh
6. Nacho Sanchez
7. Sam Smiley
8. Lucas Ross
9. Cullen Mullaly
10. Alex O’Brien
11. Austin MacKenzie
12. Noah Bitar
13. Mon Sung Aung
14. Liam Doiron
15. Mark Smith
16. Jake Dieghan
17. Daniel Whalen
18. Ben Keefe
19. Max Maund
20. Josh McKillop

Coaches – Jared Murphy and John O’Brien
P.E.I. F.C. Island team’s roster that plays in the P.E.I. senior men’s first division league. Players can also be called up to play in New Brunswick league.
1. Nathan Ford
2. Brandon Lund
3. Colin Wilkie
4. Jensen Gauthier
6. Thomas Carter Thompson
7. Daniel Martel
8. Cameron Trainer
9. Simon Bitar
10. Adam MacLellan
11. Jeff Moore
12. Joe Beeley
13. Seth Curry
14. Austin MacKenzie
15. Noah Bitar
16. Mon Sung Aung
17. Liam Doiron
18. Daniel Whalen
19. Kieran Dutton
20. Zach Lund
21. Chris Sear
22. Josh MacKillop
Coaches – Max Maund

Looking back

A review of the records SoccerStop P.E.I. F.C. has posted in winning the last four regular season titles in the McCain New Brunswick Premier Soccer League.

Season    W     L    T

2017         6      1    3

2016       11      1    1

2015        9       0    3

2014      13       2    1

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