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Abottsford Times: Leaping Toward the Future

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Leaping toward the future

By Ken Henry - Times

With his track record of bold predictions coming true, Barry Crocker's recent foreshadowing of the Abbotsford Rangers soccer club shouldn't be taken lightly. Crocker, technical director of the Abbotsford Soccer Association, believes the young Premier Development League [the PDL is two steps below the A League, which features the Vancouver Whitecaps] team will blossom into league champions over the next few years. Considering they're 2-6-1 so far this season that's a pretty hefty claim.

"Is it a bold statement? Yeah, it is," said Crocker, who three years ago said Abbotsford would have a national champion at the under-18 premier level; Abbotsford is currently the two-time reigning champs. "People are scared of us. Give these guys a couple of years."

The PDL Rangers are now led by that under-18 core and once the team gains more experience head coach Colin Miller feels they'll be a force to be reckoned with.

Miller says other coaches in the league are drooling over his club's talent level.

"They're so impressed by how well we've played," he said Monday, noting that the coach of Spokane believes Abbotsford will be a contender as early as next year. "But youthful enthusiasm can only get you so far. If you find a more experienced team that can match that enthusiasm you've got to find a different way to win."

This year Abbotsford hasn't been able to find that formula, but they've been close. Of the team's six losses all but one have been by one goal. "If you look at it, 2-6-1 doesn't make for very enjoyable reading," said Miller. "But . . . we are a young team and we will make mistakes. Providing we learn from them we're only going to get better."

The Rangers are led by defenders Brad Peetoom and Paul Ballard and midfielders Mike Riehl, James Riehl and Sean Crocker.

Add to that the up-and-coming under-16 team - Miller and Crocker say the squad is laden with stars - and the Rangers look good in the days ahead.

"There's a core of players in there that will be pushing this group," Miller said of the under-16 club. "I just think it's such an exciting time for our club in terms of the future. We'll almost a conveyor belt of talent coming through."

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