For the first time ever the Lethbridge College Kodiaks men’s soccer team has won the ACAC championship. The Kodiaks beat Red Deer College 2-0 in the gold medal match on Sunday evening in Edmonton to earn the banner.
At the championships, hosted by NAIT, the Kodiaks won three straight games to bring home the gold medal and advance to next month’s CCAA national championship. The Kodiaks opened the scoring in the 18th minute of the gold medal match when Owen Beers (first year, Business Administration, Taber) knocked in a Ben Knight (third year, General Studies, Manchester, England) crossing pass to give Lethbridge a 1-0 lead that it held into the second half.
After the break, the Kodiaks and Kings traded chances, but Lethbridge found the insurance it needed when Knight’s cross from the corner was stopped by the Kings netminder, but Jimmy Bukuru (third year, General Studies, Lethbridge) was on the spot to knock in the rebound to make it 2-0 in the 85th minute. Cody Ferguson (fourth year, General Studies, Lethbridge) earned his second shutout of the tournament to lead the Kodiaks to victory.
“We wanted to stay solid defensively in the first half going into the wind,” says Kodiaks head coach Sean Carey. “We were able to get a bonus goal. In the second half, we just wanted to be smart and responsible, which we were.”
The Kodiaks finished second in the ACAC south division during the regular season with an 8-1-3 record and entered the ACAC championships ranked 15th in Canada. In Friday’s quarterfinal, the Kodiaks were dominant in a 2-0 victory, with goals from Braydon Jetten (fourth year, General Studies, Lethbridge) and Kenzel Aarts-Roman (second year, Massage Therapy, Vernon, B.C.), while Ferguson earned the shutout. The team then advanced to the championship game with a 2-1 victory over the nationally second-ranked NAIT Ooks on Saturday. Beers and ACAC MVP Knight gave the Kodiaks a 2-0 first-half lead, and the team held off the hard-charging Oooks in the second half to earn the win.
Dave Low (second year, General Studies, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England) was named tournament MVP. Knight and Beers were named to the all-tournament team.
The Kodiaks now move on to the CCAA national championships from Nov. 6 to 9, hosted by Durham College in Oshawa, Ont.
Kodiaks women earn ACAC bronze
On the women’s side, the Kodiaks won a second straight ACAC bronze medal, with a 1-0 victory over the SAIT Trojans. It’s the third conference medal in program history, as last season’s bronze was the Kodiaks first since winning the conference and national titles in 1994.
Dairy Holmes (first year, Nursing, Calgary) had the lone Kodiaks goal as she knocked in a header in the 23rd minute, while Micaela Stone (fifth year, General Studies, Lethbridge) was a wall in the net, stopping all three shots she faced in her final ACAC game.
“I thought the first half of the game was one of our best all year, second half we got a little scrappy,” said Carey. “All in all, I think it was it was a good year. The girls played hard and earned a medal.”
The Kodiaks went 9-1-2 in the regular season and won the ACAC south division title for the first time since 1994. It was the team’s second-best regular season in program history. The Kodiaks entered the ACAC championships ranked 14th in Canada and faced the sixth-ranked Concordia Thunder in Saturday’s semifinal. The teams played over 100 minutes of scoreless soccer before the Thunder earned the win in double overtime, sending the Kodiaks to the bronze medal match.
Holmes was named to the tournament all-star team.