It’s all about the Clan at mid­field

Polisi and Jones sib­lings add ‘nat­u­ral’ chem­istry to Si­mon Fraser Univer­sity’s ti­tle hopes

The Province - - SPORTS / SOCCER - Steve Ewen

SFU Clan coach Clint Sch­nei­der shouldn’t have to worry too much about chem­istry in the mid­field with his men’s soc­cer team. He has plenty built in.

Mat­teo Polisi was one of the prized fresh­man re­cruits for the Burn­aby Moun­tain side this off-sea­son fol­low­ing a cou­ple of cam­paigns with the Port­land Tim­bers res­i­dency pro­gram. The Co­quit­lam na­tive joins an SFU mid­field con­tin­gent that in­cludes his older brother Mar­cello, a red­shirt fresh­man who missed last year due to in­jury, as well as an­other set of sib­lings from Co­quit­lam, Adam and Kyle Jones, a se­nior and a ju­nior, re­spec­tively.

SFU, which opens the sea­son Thurs­day with a visit to its Terry Fox Field (7 p.m.) from North Dakota’s Univer­sity of Mary, was ranked No. 13 in NCAA Divi­sion 2 in the United Soc­cer Coaches pre-sea­son poll.

Clan play­ers and staff are all openly talk­ing about na­tional cham­pi­onship as­pi­ra­tions, though. They were ranked No. 3 in the coun­try last Novem­ber when they were up­set 4-3 in penalty kicks by Cal Poly Pomona in the sec­ond round of a West Re­gional tour­na­ment fol­low­ing a score­less draw through 110 min­utes. SFU wound up the cam­paign 14-1-3.

“It’s a deeper squad,” said Sch­nei­der, point­ing to the fact that he has 20 play­ers he feels com­fort­able with this sea­son com­pared to 14 or so a year ago.

“Right now, it’s about mak­ing sure the older guys do their jobs of cre­at­ing a cul­ture. You have to cre­ate a buy-in to make sure the young guys em­brace what we’re try­ing to do col­lec­tively. You have to do it ev­ery year, be­cause there’s turnover at this (univer­sity) level.

“You have to have strong lead­ers in the group and guys at the very top who un­der­stand that through cul­ture they’re build­ing into the fu­ture of the team.

“Hav­ing the brothers, we hope, makes a big dif­fer­ence. We hope it’s way more nat­u­ral. We hope it just hap­pens or­gan­i­cally.”

SFU should be strong out of the mid­dle of pitch with ju­nior Mama- di Ca­mara, a 2016 Great North­west Ath­letic Con­fer­ence first-team all-con­fer­ence player, among those join­ing the brothers in the SFU mid­field ro­ta­tion.

Sch­nei­der ex­plained: “I be­lieve that we have a mid­field group that is as good as any­one in the coun­try re­gard­less of divi­sion or as­so­ci­a­tion. They can all de­fend, go for­ward and play a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent ways.”

Kyle Jones and Mat­teo Polisi both ad­mit­ted to con­sid­er­ing other schools be­fore com­mit­ting to SFU. Fol­low­ing big brother wasn’t a slam dunk.

“You look around, but it’s an­other some­thing that helps brings you here,” Mat­teo said. “It’s an­other piece. Play­ing with your brother … ev­ery­one would like to do that.”

Kyle added: “You shop around a lit­tle bit, but stay­ing closer to home is a com­fort and it helps that the pro­gram is well run here and it suits our style of play.”

Sch­nei­der said that he’ll likely avoid hav­ing the brothers room to­gether on road trips and Adam Jones main­tains that if the sib­lings spend too much time to­gether, “the guys and the coach­ing staff will make sure there’s a lit­tle bit of ban­ter about it.”

“The en­tire group is pretty co­he­sive, though,” Adam said. “It’s not like you spend an ex­or­bi­tant amount of time with just one guy. You mix in with ev­ery­one.”

Added Mar­cello Polisi: “We all get along. I think it makes it eas­ier to want to come to train­ing and that trans­lates to games. Ev­ery­one is on the same page, ev­ery­one is pulling for one an­other.”

Adam Jones was named the 2016 GNAC of­fen­sive player of the year and a GNAC first-team all-con­fer­ence se­lec­tion af­ter lead­ing the con- fer­ence in points (29) and as­sists (nine), while also top­ping SFU in goals (10).

SFU has been to the na­tional fi­nal four twice, in 2012 and 2013, since join­ing the NCAA in 2010. The Clan posted an un­beaten sea­son in 2011, but were in­el­i­gi­ble for post-sea­son play that year since they were still tran­si­tion­ing from the NAIA.

GABRIEL LYNN

Hav­ing a pair of brothers in Kyle Jones and Adam Jones as well as Mar­cello Polisi and Mat­teo Polisi could make a ‘big dif­fer­ence’ for the SFU Clan as they kick off the NCAA Divi­sion 2 sea­son.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.