Excel eye first playoff berth
What a treat it must be for the Kamloops Excel to start the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) men’s premier season with a healthy roster after a 2009-2010 season filled with injury.
“It seems like they’re all healthy right now, so I think, in the end, we’ll have one of those playoff berths and we’ll challenge for the title,” said Excel GM Frank Salituro, who stepped down as head coach after last season.
Players who missed extended periods of time due to injury last season include Brynden Swint, Casey Cullen, Brett Nordin and Jason Burrows.
“We should have made it last year, but we were decimated by injuries,” Salituro said.
“We’ve got a number of people back and it should be the strongest team that we’ve had yet.”
The Excel will be coached by committee this season, with Aaron Kidd and Jamie Spendlove, both of whom still play, and Todd Vass, a former player, joining forces to coach the squad.
“Frank [Spada], Ralph [Carrier] and I thought it was time to bring the youth into the organization and give them the opportunity,” Salituro said.
Kamloops, which is entering its fifth year as a PCSL franchise, has never made the playoffs.
The Excel came close in 2009, missing the post-season on a goal-differential tiebreaker.
Four of the league’s seven teams — Kamloops, Khalsa Sporting Club, Mid Isle FC, Okanagan Challenge, Surrey United SC, Vancouver Thunderbirds and Victoria United — qualify for the playoffs.
Kamloops finished in sixth spot last season with a 4-6-6 record.
Swint, Nordin, Spendlove, who’s brother, Sean, is also on the squad, Kyle Bowman, Braeden Burrows, Peter Loncar, Kyle Fertile and Justin Smeaton are among the players expected to play big roles for the team this season.
Kidd and Allan Connors are listed as the Excel’s goalkeepers.
Kamloops opens the 2011 campaign against Okanagan at Hillside Stadium on Saturday, May 14, at 3 p.m.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs, as it always is, and I think we have a very good chance,” Salituro said.