There may be new faces in the lineup, but the Airdrie United 1 men’s soccer team’s philosophy remains the same.
“Our mantra is to do your job and not worry about the [individualism],” said head coach Tyler Grandan. “Everyone plays together. We have a core group of players and [we’ve had] players come in who are able to slot into any spot in our formation. Work ethic is the big thing.”
United 1 entered the 2019 outdoor season on the back of a successful indoor campaign that saw the team take first place in Division 3A of the Calgary United Soccer Association last winter. That earned Airdrie a spot in the Tier 3 provincial championships March 22 to 24 in Edmonton, where the team finished fourth.
Despite losing a few key players from last season, Grandan said, the team has managed to rebuild quickly to remain a contender this summer.
“We’ve brought in some youth, and they’ve slotted into the lineup pretty easily,” he said.
“We lost Josh Lawrence [and] Mike Hamm – they went up to [the premier division], and that was the core of our midfield and defence. But we gained a couple of players who were looking for competitive teams, and we’ve balanced it out pretty well.”
Incoming players include Travis Issler, Sean Forrest, Sebastian Welch, Gaetano Bilodeau and goalkeeper Lucas Boppre, who will complement mainstays like Phil Austin and midfielder Andy Robinson.
United 1 currently boasts a 6-3-3 record in league play, which puts the team in the upper third of the table.
Airdrie’s last two outings included a 4-1 defeat July 21 to WHU Aliens and a 4-3 loss July 17 at Monklands Park to Hoods FC. The setback against the Hoods came despite Airdrie leading 2-0 at halftime.
“They had one player who just started to light up in the second half and keyed in,” Grandan said. “He got a couple of good passes and we just couldn’t stop him.”
Coming off the two-game losing skid, the squad will look to rebound in the final three weeks of regular-season action, which includes a battle with third-place Calgary Celtic on the road July 25 and a match-up with first-place PASS FC Alumni July 31 at Monklands Park.
Airdrie lost to both Celtic and PASS earlier this season, providing the team added incentive to come out with high intensity, according to Grandan.
“What we’re trying to do is knock out the last five games and see where we fit,” he said. “[These next two games] will be the test of where we end up overall.”
According to Grandan, the top two teams in Division 2 will qualify for the Tier 2 provincial championships, Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 in Edmonton.
“Our main goal entering outdoor was to be middle of the pack and challenge for a spot in the top two,” he said. “We had a good start. Unfortunately, the last two games, we’ve left it a little flat and had some unluckiness towards the last 10 minutes of each game, which resulted in some [losses].”
For Airdrie United 1's schedule, visit cusa.ab.ca.