The French ready to return for the Pronghorns
By Dale Woodard on September 17, 2021.
After losing their 2020 Canada West season to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Lethbridge’s Pronghorns men’s soccer team has been slow to play.
For Nolan French, it took even longer than that.
In fact, it dates back to 2018, when the veteran goaltender’s season ended with a ripped ACL and MCL.
Almost two years after their last game, the Horns opened their Canada West season at the University of Lethbridge Stadium when the Mount Royal University Cougars called at 2:15 p.m. The Pronghorns women’s soccer team opened the game. day at noon when they face the MacEwan Griffons.
Thursday night at U of L Stadium, not even the province’s latest COVID-19 news regarding more restrictions and more uncertainty was enough to dampen French enthusiasm.
“It’s so special,” he said. “Even today there was a chance that our training would be canceled. But once we heard it was on, I was buzzing and being happy to be outside. I haven’t played personally for a few years due to injury so honestly I can’t wait to be Saturday. It’s been so long. That’s all I was looking forward to, finally getting out there.
COVID canceled last season, but it played a bit in this year’s preparations as well.
“The camp was quite unusual in that we had people with all kinds of different starting points depending on where they were,” said Pronghorns head coach Randy Bardock. “So that made it interesting. In the lack of availability of exhibition games, this is a preseason that we have never experienced before. But throughout the preseason all we’ve talked about is focusing on what we can control and they’ve done a great job so far. “
It’s a young Horns team that arrives this year with 11 first years.
“There are three from last year that are early years,” Bardock said. “So more than half of the team is technically in first year this year. It’s exciting for them and we’ll see how they react to it. It was a difficult decision for our fifth years. We encouraged them to say that they had finished their schooling and it was time to move on. We’ve had one-on-one talks about it and I think they’ve figured it out, figured it out, and they’re ready for the real world. Now is the chance for some of these other guys to step up.
Apart from the minimal exposure time, the first indications showed great depth.
“In our last exhibition game we made nine substitutions and there was no slack and there was no mental error or things like that,” said Bardock.
“Everyone was strong when they got in there so it’s huge for us because we haven’t played for almost two years and a lot of guys haven’t played back-to-back games so how can their body going to hold up during the season? “
From his sight in the crease, French said his young teammates have looked good so far.
“I think we are better this year. We definitely have a chance to play in the playoffs. “
And the fifth-year Calgary goaltender is happy to lead.
“They bother me a lot because I’m clearly a lot older than the others, but I have no problem answering questions,” he said. “I’m here to help them as much as I can. I’m trying to be a teacher, so it’s a good practice.
The first test is at the Cougars on Saturday afternoon.
“They are going to be an extremely strong team,” said Bardock. “If they don’t get to the top of our division, I’ll be surprised. So it’s a great test for us to see where we are. It allows us to see which areas we need to work on in areas where we compete with them, because I think that will be a huge sign for us. I think this is a great way to start.
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