Redpath, Highlanders save their best for last

When it comes to his personal soccer trifecta — playing the defender position, moving up on set pieces and leading as captain — Alex Redpath says he learned from the best.

The Victoria Highlanders captain, sliding up on a late corner kick, scored in the 90th minute to give the Highlanders a 2-1 victory over Abbotsford Magnuson Ford SC in a Pacific Coast Soccer League game Sunday at Royal Athletic Park.

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Redpath completed his five-season University of Victoria career this spring as captain of the Vikes. He said he hit the motherlode in terms of leadership and learning the backline position under Vikes head coach Bruce Wilson, the former pro defender who captained the Canadian national team for many years, including in the 1986 World Cup.

“Bruce taught us to play the game the right way, the way the pros do it,” said Redpath.

“I learned to lead by example.”

That’s something Highlanders coach Dave Dew wants to hook into this summer by making Redpath the Highlanders team leader.

“Alex has got all the guys’ backs and they have his,” said Dew.

“When he says something, they listen. He’s soft-hearted when he needs to be with the younger players but tells it like it is, when that is required. He can play any position.”

That means Redpath is invaluable up-field on set pieces, something that paid big dividends Sunday with the late winning goal. It was an attribute learned at UVic. Wilson converted Redpath from midfielder to defender, but never lost sight of his up-field talents in certain situations. He thought Redpath was a good target and liked to move him up on set pieces during his UVic career.

Redpath is from Terrace, a northern community that also produced Vikes star striker and former Highlander PDL player Cam Hundal. Whatever they are doing up there, Victoria soccer should hope it continues.

“Usually, if you turn out for a team in Terrace, you make it,” chuckled Redpath.

“But we had a good birth year.”

Those Terrace Kermodes teams were coached by Dr. Bill Redpath — Alex’s dad, who is now a hospitalist in Nanoose Bay — to two B.C. titles. The run was capped by the provincial U-18 championship.

Wilson won the recruiting sweepstakes when it came time for Redpath to pick a CIS team. Both his older brothers attended UVic and Redpath felt comfortable with Wilson.

But Redpath had not played summer soccer during the Highlanders’ previous six seasons in the USL Premier Development League.

“It’s a long season at UVic and I would always go back to Terrace for the summers to recuperate the body and get ready for next season,” said Redpath, a biology and P.E. major, who will begin his teaching professional development year in the fall. He also felt he got in enough soccer in the spring, after the Vikes season, with Saanich Fusion of the VISL.

Now, with his CIS eligibility exhausted, Redpath has jumped into summer soccer this year. And the Highlanders are happy he did.

Daniel Im, a Grade 12 student at SMUS headed next season to the University of the Pacific Tigers in NCAA Division 1, tapped in a rebound off the post to tie Sunday’s game 1-1 for the Highlanders at 16 minutes after Abbotsford got off to a shock lead in the first minute.

The Highlanders also scored fairly late the night before on Saturday, on a goal by Derek Degroot at 79 minutes, to salvage a 2-2 tie in the season opener against Kamloops.

“We’ve shown resilience,” said Dew.

But this is still a work in progress.

“From an attacking standpoint, we are starting to understand. It is the defensive part of the game where we have taken too many risks, that is the issue in the [early going],” added the Highlanders’ bench boss.

The Highlanders take their one win and one draw record into another home set at Royal Athletic Park against the Tim Hortons Pinnacles of Penticton (1-1) on Saturday at 4 p.m. and FC Tigers of Vancouver (0-1) on Sunday at 2 p.m.

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