For the first time in 20 years, Durham College (DC) is hosting the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Men’s Soccer National Championship.
The tournament takes place Nov. 6-9 with eight of the best teams from across Canada competing in the event.
Durham has taken several steps to ensure the championship facilities are top notch.
The championship will be held at the newly-renovated Vaso’s Field on campus. The location has undergone several new additions in the last two years, including installation of a FIFA-approved artificial turf in August.
It also features eight team rooms, new LED stadium lighting, a press box that allows for television broadcasting and bleachers that can accommodate an audience of 500.
“The renovations we were able to do made us a huge candidate for the national championships because we have all those amenities,” said Jordon Hall, Sports Information and Marketing Co-ordinator at DC.
The first game is Wednesday between Ontario champions, the Humber Hawks and Quebec’s Champlain Saint-Lambert Cavaliers, starting at 10 a.m.
DC plays its first match against the country’s 10th-ranked team, Douglas Royals, from B.C., Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
The gold medal game is scheduled for Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
“I hope to do the best we can and hopefully, win the national championships,” said Dave Ashfield, Durham’s head coach. The Lords finished tied for first in the OCAA East with a record of 7-1.
Though Durham fell 2-0 to Sheridan at the provincial championships, the team was still offered a spot in the national tournament as host.
Hall said their biggest challenge is the first game but head coach Ashfield believes in “the continued growth of his team.” Practice sessions have had the Lords “working hard and building towards their first opponents from B.C.”
The team will look toward players like Joshua Lee (eight goals), who was named OCAA Rookie of the Year and Colin Reilly, OCAA Defensive Player of the Year along with OCAA all-stars, LeRohne Young (five goals) and Kevon Grant to lead them at the nationals.
Lee, who plays striker for the team, is a first-year player at DC.
“He’s a very good, very strong player. He’s quick, always attentive to detail and always willing to learn,” said Ashfield. “He’s been a great find for the Lords this year.”
Durham was nationally-ranked at one point in the season.
“They’re a very strong and competitive team,” said Hall. “It’s just a matter of whether it works out in their favour or not.”
DC last organized the soccer nationals in 1999 but has played host to 14 other national championships in school history, including basketball, baseball and volleyball.
“Among the institutions across Canada, we’re considered a sports school, so we’re always bidding for such events,” said Hall. “We’re very much about trying to bring those big events to this campus.”
Regular ticket prices are $25 but the event is free to attend with a valid student ID. All matches will also be streamed online on SportCanadaTV along with live stats on the CCAA website.