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Canmore Wolverines soccer primed for deep playoff run

“I think for every teenage boy that’s they want to do, they want to win it all.”

CANMORE – Amid their best season in years, the Canmore Wolverines boys soccer team is trying not to get ahead of themselves.

Although, there’s reason to believe that the undefeated, top-ranked Wolverines have got the goods to make a major push in the quickly approaching playoffs.

“We want to go all the way, that’s for sure,” said Wolverines captain Jay Porter. “I think for every teenage boy that’s what they want to do, they want to win it all.”

After a few developmental years, the Wolverines made their presence felt in the 2023 Foothills High School Soccer League (FHSSL), improving to 4-0 after a 5-3 victory against rivals the Holy Trinity Knights on Monday (May 16) in Canmore.

Wolverines’ Oli Brooks scored a hat trick and Kai Perron and Emmet Long each had one goal.

In the Wolverines’ previous game on May 10, their first at home this season, the local boys edged out the Foothills Composite Falcons 2-0, with Teo Wadsworth and Isaac Kloeverpris finding the back of the net.

Only one game remains in the regular season against the undefeated Strathcona-Tweesdmuir Spartans. The game was postponed Wednesday (May 17) due unsafe levels of wildfire smoke in the Bow Valley.

However, coaches and players alike are going into the game thinking playoff implications, with an unbeaten record on the line.

“It’s the final challenge to see who finishes on top [of the league],” said Porter, a Grade 11 centre back. “Going into playoffs, that’s going to be a big deal.”

The FHSSL playoffs start May 24; however, should the Wolverines finish first or second in the league, they will receive a bye until the May 31 quarterfinals, which will be played at home at Millennium Field.

The boys’ team, which has historically been exceptionally tough to beat, last won zones in 2018.

Porter said the 2023 squad’s success “feels amazing,” and noted it’s a close-knit group that holds each other accountable on the pitch.

“I think that’s what we’re really good at, if we make a mistake in a game or at practice, we’re working on that, that’s for sure,” he said.

Coach Layne Hamilton said he’s got an intense group this year, bringing the same fierceness to opponents in games as they do to themselves in practice.

“We got a lot of boys who are pretty rowdy, but whether it’s our fitness, whether our team play, these boys are working their butts off for each other and themselves and making sure that they expect the same out of their teammates,” said Hamilton.

Firepower hasn’t been an issue this season as the Wolverines lead the league with 16 goals.

However, one thing that coaches are still trying to instill in the boys is keeping a killer instinct for the full match. It came up in Monday’s game against the Knights, when the Wolverines controlled the scoreboard and were up by two goals, then the pace slowed down, things got sluggish, and their opponents didn’t go away quietly.

The Knights caught fire early in the second half and swiftly turned momentum in their favour. Canmore’s goalkeeper Max Lorger was under fire, and eventually the energized Knights tied it at three all.

From net, Lorger, whose playing standards are respected among the boys, was barking instructions at his teammates.

It took about halfway through the second half before the Wolverines adapted to the change of speed of the game and snapped out of their funk. They again pushed the offence and pressured Holy Trinity and buried two goals.

Hamilton said he was proud of the team for stepping up after some adversity in the game. Although, with playoffs looming, the goal is to keep the team grounded in the next few weeks.

“Myself, the other coaches, and the players, we’re trying to keep ourselves humble and playing one game at a time and getting ready for playoffs,” he said.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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