CCAA championship contender: Langara Falcons
Home team prepares to take the title
By Seth Forward
The Falcons men’s soccer team have been given an automatic placement in the upcoming 2022 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association nationals due to Langara hosting the tournament — despite not having won the gold for 22 years, the team feels confident they can go all the way.
The Falcons last appeared on the podium in 2001, when they took silver.
Following a disheartening loss in the PACWEST final game, the team was not in a position to qualify for the CCAA tournament if Langara was not hosting the event.
The Falcons swept the PACWEST individual awards this season. Head coach, Marc Rizzardo was awarded coach of the year, Blake Charlesworth won rookie of the year and midfielder Takumi Ota earned player of the year. The Falcons were also given four of the 11 PACWEST all-star awards.
A season for the ages
Rizzardo said the Falcons “can’t afford to have any times where we lose focus.”
The loss to the Mariners in the final means the Falcons will be seeded lower and face more difficult competition early in the tournament.
Rizzardo said having players from other countries, like Brazil, Nigeria, Peru and Japan enriches their performance.
“They bring in different cultures and different styles of play,” Rizzardo said. Midfielder David Rodriguez Zegarra of Peru and Ota — one of four Japanese players on the team — said they needed to adapt to Canadian soccer, which is more physical than in many other countries.
On the field, the Falcons have been impenetrable in defence, with the fewest goals conceded in the league. Rookie Noah Holmes has been a stalwart in defence, with a strong aerial presence and assurance on the ball.
Rizzardo praised his team’s offence, which led the league in scoring.
“No other teams have been able to shut us down,” he said.
The Falcons play a possession-based game with a strong three-man midfield. The entire team is excellent on the ball, and rarely gives it away.
Teammates on and off the field
The team atmosphere has also been a huge catalyst in the Falcons’ success this season.
“They go out together, study together, they do lots of things together.” Rizzardo said.
Connor Thompson, who plays center back, described the team as a “family.”
“Everybody likes each other so much and we all get along,” Thompson said.