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Dalhousie University Keeper invited to USLPRO combine


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Ben Ur always wanted to be a soccer player.

Even after his parents enrolled him in hockey when they moved from England to Canada when he was four, and even after he became a Halifax Hawks AAA mainstay all the way up to bantam, the multi-sport standout preferred the pitch to the icy cold rink.

Finally, when he was going into Grade 12, he ditched skates for good.

“At the end of the day, I realized soccer was my passion,” Ur says. “Not that I regret playing hockey — it was a hard decision — but in the back of my mind, soccer was the sport I really loved to play.”

A forward in hockey, self-described as “defensive minded” albeit “all over the place,” Ur ended up as a goalkeeper after several years in soccer.

“I wasn’t too good of an ‘out’ player, so I just got relegated to the net,” says Ur, who first laced up cleats at age 10.

He hasn’t looked back since. Although he passed on opportunities to play for Nova Scotia’s youth teams because of his commitment to hockey, Ur has become one of the province’s best keepers after a stellar five-year career with the Dalhousie Tigers.

The six-foot-two 205-pounder has a wide wingspan and is an imposing presence inside the 18-yard box. His willingness to do anything to stop the ball gets him in trouble at times — he’s suffered multiple concussions — but he says that’s part of the job.

“When the ball’s in your area, you just have to imagine there’s nobody there besides you when you’re going after it,” says Ur, who is finishing up a degree in political science and history.

“You’ve got to be a little bit crazy to be a goalie,” adds Tigers head coach Pat Nearing, “and he certainly possesses that characteristic.”

The 22-year-old also boasts a thundering foot and scored twice in late-game situations for the Tigers, knocking home a game-winning corner kick last fall and a 70-yard free kick in 2010.

“He can kick the ball a mile,” says Nearing. “It’s a professional-level kick.”

Not only is Ur’s kick at a pro level, Nearing says his physical tools and work ethic are, too, and that Ur just needs more game experience. The United Soccer Leagues PRO circuit has taken note, inviting Ur to its tryout combine in Bradenton, Fla., from Jan. 26 to 29.

It’s an opportunity to get paid to play the game he loves.

“Playing pro would be something I’d love to do,” Ur says. “It’s one of those things where I’ll find out if I can do it or maybe it’s something I need more work on. It will be nice to see where my skills fit in.”

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