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Calgary Herald - Callies load up on Talent


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John Down

Calgary Herald

Saturday, May 28, 2005

No ifs, ands or buts . . . the Alberta Major Soccer League is offering a superior product this season.

In fact, it's offering the best soccer in the province.

With no professional teams kicking the ball around in Calgary or Edmonton, the AMSL has inherited many of the A-League's Mustangs and Aviators.

"Having these guys in the league will make it the best soccer available in Alberta this year," says Calgary Callies coach Dave Randall, who has added three Mustangs and one Storm player to his championship roster.

The Callies, Alberta champs five of the past six years and twice Canadian

titliests during the same period (1999, 2003), open the season in Edmonton against the tough Green and Gold this afternoon and Sunday against Ital.

The roster has undergone a fairly large overhaul -- largely due to availability of the A-League players and last year's disappointing ninth-place finish in the nationals. Mustangs (formerly Storm) midfielders Nicky Reyes, Jamie Auvigne and Steffen Holdt have been added along with Storm defender Tommy Wheeldon Jr. You also can count 17-year-old Cole McFarlane among the newcomers.

"Reyes is a very quick little player . . . he gets all over the place, so I think he'll be one of our stars this year," says Randall. "We've got a pretty solid team . . . some veterans, a little more experience . . . a good mix of youth and veterans."

The Callies, one of three Calgary teams (Dinos and Villains) in the nine-team AMSL, also are a younger team with an average age of 26. And they've watched an intense battle for the starting goalkeeper's job, with No. 1 Dave Harrison on the injury list with a banged-up knee. That's left Spencer Arnold and Wade Leblanc to duke it out.

"We're looking for the same thing we always do . . . win the league, win provincials and go to nationals," says Randall, noting an added incentive this year:

nationals are in Calgary in October.

The Callies return to Broadview AP for their home opener June 4 at 2 p.m. against the Dinos. The Dinos start the season at Broadview with a 2 p.m. game today against Scottish and a noon session Sunday against Edmonton Victoria.

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