CCAA championship contender: Holland Hurricanes
Hurricanes weather the storm
By Seth Forward
The Holland College Hurricanes of P.E.I. are entering the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association nationals on a high after a whirlwind season that included injury and illness — and an actual hurricane.
The Canes arrive as a dark horse at the national championship, which runs Nov. 9 to 12 in Langley, B.C.
Holland’s best result was a silver in 2011.
The ’Canes had a strong season in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association conference.
With a potent offence spearheaded by top ACAA scorer and player of the season, Mohammad Alhaj Ali, they upset favourites St. Thomas University in the conference final to book their spot at nationals.
Learning from the past
Head coach Jonathan Vos said the team is confident but knows it will need “to be prepared for the physical battles.”
It won’t be the worst adversity the ’Canes have faced this season.
Last month, with Hurricane Fiona wreaking havoc across P.E.I., the team’s training regimen was thrown into chaos. They lost two of their next three games, though Alhaj Ali said they never panicked.
“That affected us during the season,” Alhaj Ali said. “But we were ready mentally and physically for playoffs.”
While the ‘Canes possess plenty of skill, it is this grit that will make them a difficult team to beat at nationals.
Midfielder Keisuke Masuda played through injury and illness in the conference final, scoring the second goal of the match in a game won by dogged determination.
While Vos said Alhaj Ali was “the spark plug for our attack,” he made it clear to the team that the ’Canes would not be a one-player team.
Masuda said that after an earlier string of losses, Vos called a special meeting where urged the players to trust each other.
After that, the ‘Canes became unbeatable.