Canada West Communications
VANCOUVER - Ahead of the opening weekend of the season, the Canada West released its preseason poll and team previews on Thursday with the conference coaches tapping the UBC Thunderbirds as the team to beat in 2021.
The three-time defending conference champion Thunderbirds collected 143 total points, including 11 first-place selections, in the annual preseason coaches poll. UBC has been a dominant force in the Canada West, reaching the conference final every season since 2015.
The MacEwan Griffins are ranked 12th.
The Mount Royal Cougars picked up 124 points to take second spot in the poll. The Cougars finished the 2019 season with the best record of all Central Division teams, at 9-4-1.
One of the top challengers in the West Division are the Trinity Western Spartans, who finished third in the poll with 115 points and a first-place vote.
Right behind the Spartans with 114 points and a first-place vote were the Alberta Golden Bears. Alberta is the last team other than UBC to win a Canada West title when they captured both the conference and national banners in 2016.
The Canada West season opens up on Friday with a trio of West Division matchups. UBC visits the Thompson Rivers WolfPack, the Victoria Vikes host the UNBC Timberwolves, and Trinity Western welcomes in the UBC Okanagan Heat. All six teams will face each other again on Saturday.
The Griffins, in the Central Division, open the season on Sept. 25 vs. Alberta (2:30 p.m., Clareview Stadium).
Teams will play the 2021 CW regular season exclusively within their own divisions (West & Central) after alternate playing formats were announced by the conference on May 5.
MEN'S SOCCER ON CANADA WEST TV PRESENTED BY CO-OP
2021 CW MSOC PRESEASON COACHES POLL
- UBC Thunderbirds - 143 (11)
- Mount Royal Cougars - 124
- Trinity Western Spartans - 115 (1)
- Alberta Golden Bears - 114 (1)
- Thompson Rivers WolfPack - 90
- Saskatchewan Huskies - 89
- Calgary Dinos - 73
- Victoria Vikes - 71
- Fraser Valley Cascades - 58
- UNBC Timberwolves - 46
- UBCO Heat - 43
- MacEwan Griffins - 30
- Lethbridge Pronghorns - 18
NOTE: Coaches ranked all opponents 1-12. First-place votes worth 12 points, second-place worth 11 points etc.
2021 MacEWAN GRIFFINS SEASON PREVIEW
2019 CW regular season record: 1-8-5 / 5th Prairie Division
2019 post-season record: N/A
Head Coach: Adam Loga / 6th season / 8-38-12
Last CW championship / total CW championships: None
Last CIS championship / total CIS championships: None
2019 CW regular season ranks:
- Offence: 13 goals for / 12th
- Defence: 24 goals against / T9th
2019 CW regular season leaders (returning):
- Goals: 2 – Stefan Gajic, M
- Assists: 2 – Rakan Yassin, F & Stefan Gajic, M
- Points: 4 – Stefan Gajic, M
- Wins: 1– Simon Dawe, GK
- Shutouts: 1 – Simon Dawe, GK
Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):
- Chance Carter / M / 1 / Edmonton, AB / FC Edmonton
- Jakob Sievert / M / 1 / Ravnegiersburg, GER / TUS Kirchberg
- Andreas Hafellner / D / 1 / Proleb, AUT / FC Proleb
- Alvin Mazaheri / F / 1 / Copenhagen, DEN / Vanløse IF
- Ali Yildiz / M / 1 / Edmonton, AB / FC Edmonton
- Issac Milambo / F / 1 / Winnipeg, MB / FC Manitoba
Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):
- Everett Orgnero / F / Calgary, AB / 2
- Michel Enes / M / Sturgeon County, AB / 2
- Kapri Simmons / F / Edmonton, AB / 3
- Seth Johnstone / GK / Edmonton, AB / 3
- Zibusiso Moyo / F / Edmonton, AB / 4
- Alexander Mosca / D/M / Calgary, AB / 5
- Stefan Gajic
- Position: Midfielder
- Year: 3
- Hometown: Edmonton, AB
- 2019 Stats: 2 goals, 2 assists for 4 points in 13 GP
The veteran box-to-box midfielder tied for the Griffins' scoring lead in 2019 with four points in 13 games and will be a key figure in MacEwan's offensive push again in 2021.Gajic has a strong ability to strike from distance and is a technician with the ball at his feet, constantly pressuring opposing defensive units with his speed and finesse.
With improvement in defensive organization since his first season, Gajic is a true threat on both sides of the ball.His leadership will be key in guiding a young core in the Griffins' attack this season.