The UNBC Timberwolves know there's no ready-made formula to defuse the Brett Levis bomb.
At least not within the rules of soccer.
Somehow tonight at North Cariboo Field, they will have to find a way to limit the damage that Levis, a CIS second team All-Canadian striker poses when he and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies take on the T-wolves in a CIS Canada West Conference matchup (7 p.m. start).
"I'm excited that we're going to have one of the best players in the CIS coming to play in Prince George and I want my players to defend well against him," said T-wolves head coach Alan Alderson.
Levis, who finished second in conference scoring last year with nine goals and six assists for the 6-5-4 Huskies, was good enough to be invited to a tryout for the Vancouver Whitecaps. He scored both Huskies goals in a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Wesmen in their CIS season-opener last Saturday, but the Huskies are certainly not limited to just one dangerous weapon.
Also back from the team that won Canada West bronze in 2012 are midfielder Eoin McFadden,a 2009 Canada West all-star, and defender Jordian Farahani, who made the Canada West all-star squad in 2010, and Huskies captain Brandon Holmes.
"It's definitely going to be about team defending and over the preseason against some of the top programs in the country we were able to figure out some defending strategies to give us a good chance to limit the time and space of some of the more talented players we play against," said Alderson, whose team went 1-5 against CIS competition in a preseason tour of Eastern Canada.
"We're still the youngest team in the country but we're learning as we go along here and I just hope we learn quick enough to be able to close down some of these good teams and good players."
The Twolves went 1-13 last year in their first crack at the CIS. It doesn't get any easier on Sunday when they host the University of Alberta Golden Bears, currently ranked No. 3 in the CIS. The Golden Bears led the Prairie Conference with a 9-2-4 record in 2012 and went on to win Canada West silver.
The UNBC women's soccer team will open tonight on the road in Chilliwack against the Fraser Valley Cascades, then the T-wolves travel to Victoria on Saturday to face the Vikes, currently ranked third in the CIS.
Alderson figures his team will show significant improvement on the attack this year with a group of second-year players that includes Cheona Edzerza, Tyson Hunter, Brett Bobier, Alan Zhao and Amedee Cimana, back after a year off to focus more on academics. Striker Tofa Fakunie and midfielder Jake Vickers both made the Alberta team for the 2013 Canada Summer Games but both are right out of high school in Calgary and they'll need time to develop.
The UNBC defence will revolve around Logan Phenuff, Connor Noftle and Liam MacPhail, back after a one-year hiatus. Mitch Macfarlane and Ty Venhola were under constant siege last season, facing several times more shots than what the majority of CIS goalkeepers encountered. That extra work in game situations might bode well for the Twolves in 2013 if they can find ways to tighten up defensively. Alderson is keeping it a secret who will get the start in net tonight.
"We're still way too young and there will be moments of brilliance and moments when we look inexperienced but no matter what it's going to be a lot of fun," said Alderson.