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If this was a normal season, UPEI and Holland College soccer teams would be battling for regional or national championships around this time of the year.
Instead, they will be competing for medals in an inter-provincial fall varsity soccer league this weekend at the UPEI Turf Field.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced their respective Atlantic conferences to postpone all fall sports, including soccer, UPEI and Holland College decided to co-host a league of their own.
“The fall league has been an excellent substitution for an AUS (Atlantic University Sport) season,” said Lewis Page, head coach of the UPEI women’s and men’s soccer teams. “The teams participating are of a high quality, and every game has been competitive.”
Varsity Alumni and the P.E.I. F.C. Under-17s are the other teams in the league. Each team played seven games in round-robin divisional play, with games being played in both men’s and women’s divisions each Sunday.
“It has been good mentally and emotionally for the players to be able to come together, to bond, to be active, socially engaged,” said Jonathan Vos, head coach of both Holland College teams. “When you look at the big picture that has been the biggest thing for them; to just be healthy mentally and physically and to be able to do something they love.
“We’re trying to keep it as normal as we can and in terms of the soccer side of it, there were minimal adjustments.”
UPEI forward Lauren Clark of Charlottetown says the league allows her and her teammates a chance to keep moving forward and building for the future.
“I am beyond happy to be back playing with my teammates and, as a group, we have seized upon the fall league as an opportunity to develop and grow, and hopefully be ready for an AUS season in 2021.”
Paige Deighan of Wilmot Valley said her Hurricanes, who play in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association, are also using the time to build for the future.
“It means a lot to me and the girls that we are able to still play soccer but, most importantly, play for Holland College during such a hard time in the world with COVID-19 going on,” said Deighan.
While it was disappointing, all agreed the cancellation of regional divisional play was a good decision.
“The safety and health of the players is more important than a league season,” said Page.
Both coaches praised the commitment of their players during these times.
“I think the players realized how fortunate we are,” said Vos. “When you look around at other Atlantic institutions, some of them haven’t been as fortunate as us to be able to have competition, to be able to train regularly. I think our players have appreciated what we have and what we’re able to do.”
Medal Games - All at UPEI Turf Field:
11 a.m., UPEI vs. Varsity Alumni, gold medal
2 p.m., P.E.I.F.C. Under-17s vs. Holland College, bronze medal
12 p.m., P.E.I.F.C. Under-17s vs. Holland College, bronze medal
3 p.m., UPEI vs. Varsity Alumni, gold medal
Varsity Alumni 5 P.E.I.F.C. Under-17s 1
UPEI 1 Holland College 0
Varsity Alumni 3 P.E.I.F.C. Under-17s 0
UPEI 4 Holland College 0
Women – Varsity Alumni (6-0-1), 19 pts; UPEI (3-2-2) 11 pts; Holland College (2-4-1), 7 pts; P.E.I.F.C. Under-17s (0-5-2), 2 pts.
Men – Varsity Alumni (6-0-1), 19 pts; UPEI (4-2-1), 13 pts; Holland College (1-4-2), 5 pts; P.E.I.F.C. Under-17s (0-5-0), 2 pts.