While the Douglas College Royals’ women’s team already has a place in their national final booked as the host team, the men are hungry to step up to a championship themselves after losing last year’s final to the Vancouver Island University Mariners.
In fact, said coach Robby Toor, the appetite of success of the team’s returning veterans and incoming freshman is palpable.
“Last season’s run is a huge motivator for the seniors and rookies,” Toor said. “The group is really focussed this season.”
The Royals won their first PACWEST title since 2014 with a 3-0 win over the Quest Kermodes, who had defeated the Mariners to reach the conference final. But Douglas fell 1-0 to VIU in the national championship, who had received an automatic berth as the tournament’s host.
Toor said a slow start last year in which his charges won only once in their first six games won’t be repeated.
“We are looking to start the season on a better note,” he said. “It’s just about putting it all together on the field as we did last year in the second half of the season.”
Several key veterans like Race Williams, Tomi Fabgongbe, Edris Najm and team captain Nawaf Binsaleh will bring to the pitch their memory of that slow start and the work it took to reverse it. But Toor is especially enthusiastic about the new recruits.
Coquitlam’s Quinn Deslauniers, who led the Dr. Charles Best Blue Devils to a provincial AAA boys high school championship last season, will team up with Stefan Masaites of Port Moody to fill the gap at midfield left by the departure of Quinn Dawson, who’s gone to Simon Fraser University.
Centennial grad Burhan Waisy, who also played for the provincial boys team, will align with Binsaleh to anchor the centre back position.
“He is a very talented player who plays with the composure of an experienced college player,” Toor said of Waisy, who scored one of the Royals’ goals in their season-opening 3-0 win over the Langara Falcons last Saturday in Coquitlam.
Another key addition, Toor said, will be Daniel Sagno, a former player from the Vancouver Whitecaps residency program who transferred from San Diego State University.
“We know we have the group to get back to nationals,” Toor said.