Premier men win pennant
FC Edmonton Academy team, listed as St. Albert Impact in the premier men's division in the Edmonton District Soccer Association, finished first overall with 13 wins in 18 matches
Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 06:00 am
The premier pennant winners in the Edmonton District Soccer Association are St. Albert Impact by name, but the players on the pitch are from the FC Edmonton Academy team.
The affiliation/association between FC Edmonton Academy and the St. Albert Soccer Association was finalized before the start of the EDSA season.
“We’re in an agreement where that we’ve bought the (Impact’s premier) spot for the year,” explained Paul Kelly, FC Edmonton Academy coach and academic adviser who serves as staff coach for SASA and coach for the Impact program “I’m not sure what is going to happen next year but I’m sure we’ll go forward with things again.”
Thursday’s 2-0 win over second-place AC Milan to wrap up league play was the 13th in 18 matches for FC Edmonton Academy in its first premier season under the Impact label.
“The player roster is all FC Edmonton Academy players or former players that are now attending universities,” Kelly said. “We have two players that were in our academy the first year we had it and they’re now going to school in the states. We do bring in players from the division one Impact team. They come in when we’ve been short in numbers.”
The roster is predominantly high school age players, including two from the Impact rep system in Noah Cunningham and Zach Rochat.
“Noah’s had a very good season,” Kelly said. “He is generally starting as one of our centre backs. He has developed a lot the year we’ve had him and a lot of improvement has been showing. Zach is a little bit younger. He is playing as an outside midfield player and also plays fullback. He usually will play 45 to 60 minutes for us. He has developed and had a really good season.”
FC Edmonton Academy captain Bruno Zebie was the team’s top goal scorer with eight.
“He can play in any position,” said Kelly of the first-year NAIT Ook player. “He is a very versatile and very athletic with a very high work ethic. He is a leader.”
Carlos Patino, an attacking midfielder, connected seven times and Haris Kevac, who can play the attacking or holding midfield positions, netted six goals. He is currently trying out with a team in Germany.
Shamit Shome, an attacking/holding midfielder entering Grade 12, also has six goals.
“He is an excellent player,” Kelly said. “He has a great work ethic and is very skilful. He is doing very well.”
In the last match before provincials Jose Lopez and Jake Schepien scored and Adam Pinco recorded the shutout. Schepien and Pinco were callups from the third-place Impact team in division 1B.
The win was the seventh in a row for FC Edmonton Academy, unbeaten in 16 matches since its only loss, a 3-0 forfeit against Juventus Scona on May. 1.
Last year’s Impact premier team won seven, lost eight and tied three to finish in the middle of the table.
“It’s a young group we have but it’s very talented,” Kelly said. “We also have the advantage that we train four times a week. The other clubs are probably training twice so I think that’s a benefit. We also focus on not just the results with this group but how they’re playing. Are they playing the system of play that we’re running? Are they focused as players? Are they disciplined? These players are constantly being evaluated and we will be making our decisions in the next couple of weeks as to which players will be invited back,”
A regular weekday match schedule also contributed to the team’s success.
“A consistent game every Thursday has been helpful for the guys,” Kelly said. “Last year we just played friendlies throughout the summer. The year before we played against (Alberta) major league teams and there was a lot of travel involved.”
Every year teams in premier can declare before the start of the season if they want to challenge for a berth in the Alberta Major Soccer League, but a non-refundable fee is required and you have to finish first overall for a crack at the AMSL.
“It’s just something that we’re not proceeding with,” said Kelly, who teaches at St. Joseph High School where the FC Edmonton Academy is based. “Our guys are in a very heavy training schedule right now. They train three to four times a week. We also play friendlies against universities, colleges and we play against the professional development league team out of Calgary so we do have a very heavy schedule.”