Foothills FC plays Cavalry tough, completes first week of preseason

If it’s Calgary vs Calgary, it has to be snowing.

On April 27th, Foothills FC gave their Canadian Premier League brothers their final test before the season begins with a hard fought 1-0 loss at Spruce Meadows in a year’s worth of weather conditions.

The match completed Foothills’ first complete week of work on the pitch as a unit , which included wins in Spokane, Washington against Whitworth University and Gonzaga University.

“The trip was outstanding. Overall I’m really pleased,” said head coach Leon Hapgood. “We have had a week together as a group. The 4/5 days leading up before the travel home were brilliant.

“It was everything we hoped for in terms of a short time frame.

Goals from Foothills in Spokane came in pairs for Everett Orgnero and Arabim Pepple and a single against Whitworth for returner and captain Tofa Fakunle.

Back at Spruce on Saturday, the only goal of the match came from Foothills 2018 champion Dan Northover for the Cavs, who took advantage of a zone clearing error from Foothills goalkeeper Ben Jackson in the 35th minute.

“We knew today it would a different game for us and the Cavalry.”

“Ben is brilliant in Gonzaga. He was quality,” said coach Hapgood. “People remember goalkeeping mistakes but there were 50 mistakes out there today. We talked about it at halftime and moved on.”

Cavalry head coach and 2018 champion with Foothills, Tommy Wheeldon Jr. said his team were given a tough test preparing for their regular season opener at home this coming weekend.

“Absolutely, that’s why we wanted them as our last game, we are cut from the same cloth. They have a great culture about them and that’s why we wanted it. We knew it would be a great game and the perfect preparation for the game next week.”

For the Foothills team, the USL 2’s defending champions were well covered on the back line with clearances away from the six yard box, several times under stress.

“You have to build your team off the way you want to defend,” said Hapgood. “Euan Bauld was brilliant and Danny Harrison was told he would be starting 15 min before game time. He had a great performance even when he hadn’t warmed up properly.”

The new players are many for the U23 squad, but they are aware of what Foothills’s program is all about.

“They’ve come in and said we didn’t win it last year but we don’t want to lose it this year,” the coach observed. “You can see the hunger. They know what Foothills is about, Foothills is a brand, it’s something that is special, its about these kids and their life and their football.

The Foothills team will travel again this weekend, this time to Saskatoon against the Saskatchewan Selects, as that province starts identifying their best athletes, looking ahead to 2020 and beyond.

Keep following Foothills social media for all the detail on our pre-season as the road to Seattle and the season opener on May 17 continues.

Cover photo for this story from Stuart Gradon of the Total Soccer Project.

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