2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Louie Villanueva

Dinos men’s soccer players train overseas with England’s Oxford United FC

By Emilie Medland-Marchen, March 8 2016 —

The Dinos men’s soccer team is currently in their offseason, fresh off a breakthrough 2015 season that saw them finish first in the Canada West’s Prairie Division with an 8–2–2 record. Though their season is now over, top scorers Dominick Zator and Dominic Russo — the latter of which led the CIS in scoring — are hard at work honing their skills for next year.

The Gauntlet spoke with the duo about their recent overseas training experience with England’s Oxford United FC.

Gauntlet: Can you tell us about the training camp in Oxford?

Dominic Russo: It was a 10-day trial with Oxford United. We just practiced with the first team and the reserves over that time, and watched the first team play two games. We saw how a professional team goes through their day, with breakfast in the morning at the facility, with a recovery session like yoga or stretching. Then they’ll watch video on their last game and hit the training field for about two hours. Then everybody comes back in, showers and has lunch together. It’s pretty much a six hour day with the whole team together.

Dominick Zator: It only changes up if the team has a game that day or not. So the two days where we watched the first team play, that day we just trained with the reserves and we only had small-sided games. But it was definitely a good experience watching the first team play in a big stadium.

G: Did you find that your training with the Dinos is similar to what Oxford United is doing?

Russo: The standard overall was a lot higher. The intensity was higher. The pace of the game was quicker. Just everything was a step up from here. But personally I think we fit in with them over there, so that was good.

G: What are the major differences between North American and European soccer?

Russo: I would say the way they play the game. They think about each pass, everything they do is calculated.

Zator: Here, it’s more direct.

G: Can you tell us about the Dinos’ past season?

Russo: This year was definitely a huge accomplishment for the whole team. Finishing first in our conference was just massive. It shows that we’re able to compete with everyone at the top. It’s just unfortunate the way things played out after the season. But knowing that we did so well, we can definitely build off of this. There’s good players on the team and as long as everyone’s on the same page, we can move forward and hopefully have a successful year next year.

G: What do you mean by “at the end of this season”?

Russo: The playoff game.

Zator: Yeah, the playoff game didn’t work out so well. That seems kind of like a pattern for us right now, and hopefully next year we can beat that first-game playoff loss to move forward.

G: This past year was Brendan O’Connell’s first year coaching the team. What did you guys think of his coaching style?

Russo: For his age, he brings a crazy amount of energy to the training session. It’s never going to be boring. You can’t slack at all or else he’ll get on your back, and he’ll step into the training session for you and show you how to do it, at whatever age he is. He’s like what, 40? 50?

Zator: He definitely brings a lot of intensity to the training sessions. And he brings out the best in everyone, so we know when we’re playing a game, we’re thinking about what he tells you. You want to do your best, both to help out the team and also for him.

Russo: He’s very positive. If you’ve missed a couple shots in the game, he’ll be like, ‘Don’t worry. The next one is going in, just remember that. The chances will keep coming.’

G: What kind of leadership roles do you have on the team?

Zator: Well, I’m the team captain, and I also play centre-back. It’s one of the last positions. I see everyone in front of me. Being in that leader role, I have to make sure that everyone is working together, make sure our structure and our form is on point. Trying to motivate others as well, being a leader and making sure we work together to get success. Just trying to keep everyone together, trying to motivate them, is basically my role.

G: Do a lot of players get to go to overseas training camps, or was this a one-time experience for you guys?

Russo: I don’t know a lot of players who have done things like that, but with a coach like [O’Connell], he has connections that can help you go further in your soccer career, and that’s really good. He wanted to give us a treat. We both had good Dinos seasons, so he wanted to reward us in a way and give us some confidence, because obviously if he thinks you’re good enough to go overseas, you must be really good. And that gets you going. So yeah, that was awesome. It was a pretty unique experience, and I’ll never forget it.

G: What’s your focus going into next season?

Russo: The first goal is to win the conference again. The second goal is to win our first playoff game in the four years that we’ve been here. And then the third goal is to make nationals for our final year.

G: Are you guys happy for the off-season?

Russo: I play for another team in the off season, the Foothills F.C. team, but I think if I didn’t play for them I’d be bored out of my mind. For me soccer is always a stress reliever, so it’s really nice going to an intense training session in between exams.

G: What’s something that students wouldn’t know about the Dinos soccer team?

Russo: There’s a lot of good-looking boys on it!

G: That’s a good answer.

Russo: That’s a hard question. We’re actually good. I think a lot of people don’t know we’re good. We won the league last year, and our conference. I don’t even know if people know we have a soccer team. It’s mostly football and hockey.

Zator: Yeah. It would be better to make soccer a little more known.

Russo: Like if we had something like Pack the Jack.

Zator: Yeah — a day where everyone could come out and watch one of our games.

Russo: Like Crowchild Classic for soccer. Mount Royal versus U of C — that would be fun. But I just try to focus on my own thing. If we do well, we’ll get enough recognition, I think.

Hiring | Staff | Advertising | Contact | PDF version | Archive | Volunteer | SU

The Gauntlet