BIG WIN – U-18 Red Deer Renegade Ryan Vleeming fights for the ball against Edmonton SW United player

U-18 Renegades win provincial gold on home field

The U-18 Red Deer Renegades Soccer Club made history over the weekend by becoming the first Red Deer team to take both the Tier 2 indoor soccer provincial championship in March and the Tier 2 outdoor soccer provincial championship over the weekend.

The Renegades started the tournament, which was held on their home fields at the Edgar Athletic Park, with a game against their rival club Southwest United out of Edmonton. Coach Ado Sarcevic explained he knew the game would be an important one as the two teams played in the same league during regular season and were well acquainted with one another.

“The first game sets the tone for the tournament and gets everyone on the right page,” said Sarcevic. “Winning the first game is always an important factor.

“After that it’s about making sure you continue on the same track as the first game.”

The Renegades took the game 2-0, moving on to face the Medicine Hat Rattlers. The Red Deer club effectively shut down their southern opponents in a 5-1 blowout.

Although the team still had another game on Saturday, the win signified that the Renegades would be playing in the gold medal game on Sunday.

The second game on Saturday saw the Renegades tying 3-3 with the Calgary Blizzards.

Sarcevic added he wasn’t worried about the tie as he utilized his roster to its full extent allowing key players to rest before the final game.

Sunday saw the Renegades take on the Calgary Blizzards in the gold medal game where they claimed the title of Tier 2 provincial champions with a 2-0 shut-out.

“It’s always a struggle against bigger centres like Calgary or Edmonton where they have bigger pools of kids to draw from,” said Sarcevic on the team’s provincial wins.

“So with soccer programs in Red Deer we really need to spend the extra time to develop players to be a really competitive team, but this past weekend and back in March with indoor, we showed what we were capable of.

“I’m extremely proud of this team – it was a great team performance.”

Sarcevic said aside from a rigorous pre-season training schedule involving fitness sessions with 360 Fitness, which was a huge help to ensuring the boys were ready physically it was largely the team’s determination which has been responsible for their back-to-back titles.

“During practices we maybe had one person missing here or there but it was consistently the entire team making every game and practice which made all the difference,” he said.

“It was just unbelievable – many of them had both school and work to balance so the level of dedication they showed to meet their goals was very admirable.”

Having proved themselves the best in their division this year, the 12 returning players from the team will have their work cut out for them next year as the team enters into the Tier 1 league.

“We’ve proven we are a good strong team and the best in the Tier 2 category and a competitive candidate against Tier 1 teams,” added Sarcevic who explained Tier 2 soccer does not have nationals, however Tier 1 does. “With our 12 confirmed returning players and a couple of stronger players from the U-16 team we are going to have another exceptional team,” he said.

“We have a fair shot at Tier 1 provincials – miracles do happen and you never know, we could end up being the first team in history from Red Deer to go to Tier 1 nationals.”

jswan@reddeerexpress.com