Quest Men's Soccer made history at the 2017 PACWEST Soccer Championships. The tournament took place on Quest's home turf. The Kermodes were Provincial Championship finalists, as they earned the silver medal in the final game against the Douglas College Royals. This is the greatest accomplishment achieved by a Quest Men's Soccer team and it did not come without a fight.
The Kermodes had to battle their way through the semi-finals as they faced Vancouver Island University. Not only were the Mariners the highest ranking team in the PACWEST Conference, but also the #2 ranked team in the entire country. The teams exchanged goals with VIU being the first to get on the scoreboard. Regulation time ended with a score of 2-2, with both goals for Quest scored by #7 Ahmed Kamal. Fans were left hanging on the edge of their seats as the tension continued to build. The teams fought their way through two periods of extra time, leading to a dramatic finish in penalty shots.
They say that history repeats itself and this rang true for Quest and VIU, as the teams went through the exact same situation at the 2014 Championships, last time the Kermodes hosted. Being faced with the same scenario offered an opportunity for redemption, which the Kermodes were hungry to capitalise on. Although it did add an extra level of pressure to perform, explains Head Coach Alex Elliott, the team prepared itself by using all available resources. Reviewing game tape, attending sessions with a sport psychologist, and quality practices enabled the team to identify areas to improve, regain a focused mindset, and maintain their physical health.
"We made sure to refrain from playing with too much emotion and to stick to our tactical roles. It was a large task for all involved as we have the utmost respect VIU's team. There is a reason why they are number one in the league."
Quest's focus and preparation sure paid off, as they proved that history does not always repeat itself in exactly the same manner. This time the Kermodes would emerged victorious. The shootout ended in a score of 3-2 for Quest, as seniors #14 Zachary Roberts-Winter, #11Vikram Puri, and #8 Yassin Nayel nailed their shots, taking care of some unfinished business. Goalkeeper Sam Macdonald lived up to his league All-Star title by delivering an outstanding performance. What a satisfying way for the Kermodes to secure a spot in the finals.
Not only did Quest beat the top ranked team in the PACWEST, but also the second highest ranked team in the country. Their success is a marker of how far the program has come over the last few years. Coach Elliott is proud of the level of professionalism his players displayed on the field against such a highly ranked team and of their dedication to the defensive style of play that was required for the match. He stresses that the team's achievements are a result of their collective buy-in to the game plan and the familial culture that has developed within the team.
"Winning this game came with an overwhelming sense of pride. We wanted to show that we had improved, are able to compete at their level, and prove that we deserved to be there. Succeeding the way we did, showcased each player's high level of maturity and discipline. As we saw the emotions pour out after the win, it was nice to see the human side of the players and the family bond shared by all of them."
Coach Elliott expressed a strong sense of pride and satisfaction with the way the 2017 season played out. He looks forward to moving into the recruitment phase and to begin further development of the Kermodes Men's Soccer program. The silver medal is a great accomplishment for the team and the program. It has left everyone with the hunger and drive to continue working hard as they move into the coming season ready to take the team to the next level.
"The Kermodes Men's Soccer team continues to grow into a fun, family-oriented, hard working group of players that support one another on and off the field. They have created a unique culture and a desirable setting for any young athlete. We are really motivated to bring in a new crop of freshmen that will continue to build our program."
Quest's goalkeeper Sam Macdonald has consistently delivered remarkable performances this season. His reliability is key to the Kermodes style of play. He was named a PACWEST All-Star for his noteworthy displays of athleticism in the regular season. Macdonald continued to be standout player throughout the championship weekend. He earned himself the Player of the Game award in the team's win in the semi-finals over the VIU Mariners as well as the Top Goalkeeper of the tournament award. "Sam is a top level keeper. His solid performance throughout the tournament was of nosurprise to us. He's the foundation of our team and he showed why we played in a defensive manner." -Coach Elliott
Ahmed Kamal was named Top Midfielder of the tournament. He proved to be a true asset to the team. He showed exceptionally well in the semi-finals by scoring both goals in regulation time and carried his momentum into the final. Kamal has a strong work ethic and truly embodies what it means to be a member of the Kermodes Family. "It was great to see Ahmed find success in the semi-finals with his two goal performance. Ahmed put's a ton of time into his game and it was rewarding for everyone on our squad to see him get the recognition he deserves." -Coach Elliott
Files from Cassy Winter
Photos courtesy of Vancouver Sports Pictures