Both Bruce Wilson’s men’s team and Tracy David’s women’s side left Tuesday on their annual pilgrimage and return Feb. 12. The two squads will play three exhibition games against NCAA teams Florida Gulf Coast, Florida International and Florida Atlantic.
“This is like a bonus trip as it fulfills the second half training, while it is also a test of Canadian CIS talent against NCAA talent,” Wilson said in a statement. “These schools are happy to play us as we give them an extra game in the off-season and they know we usually bring a competitive side.”
Wilson will have a mix of veterans and youth as fifth-years Cam Hundal, Craig Gorman and Dominic Colantonio (who are all graduating) will be in tow, along with younger recruits such as first-year fullback Evan Stefanek, fellow rookie midfielder Xavier Araujo and striker Jyotish Khanna and second-year defender MacKenzie Rigg.
“This is an opportunity for us to let some of our younger players get an idea of what those schools and that level of competition is like,” said Wilson.
“This will be really good for Jyotish to get 10 straight days of training in after tearing his ACL over a year ago,” Wilson said of the Glenlyon Norfolk School product, who will be counted on for scoring along with second-year striker Michael Baart of St. Michaels University School.
David’s team will also benefit from sessions at the Florida Atlantic training grounds.
“This is very good competition for us and it is different competition than what we are used to playing so it should be both interesting and fun,” she said. “It’s a good opportunity for us to let some of our first- and second-year players, who had little playing time in the fall, get on the field.”
Those include Alynn Dagg and London Coronica of Stelly’s and Reynolds, respectively.
Veterans Sarah Douglas, Megan Elder ad Shannon Elder were not on the trip, allowing rookie midfielder Rachel Baird of Nanaimo District Secondary a chance to shine.
“We’ve played these teams almost every year,” David said of the traditional tour, which began before she joined the Vikes. “This year Florida Atlantic has a lot more internationals than usual. They usually have Canadians, but this year they also have players from Austria, New Zealand, Brazil, Iceland and England.”
Games begin Sunday at Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton.