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Off and kicking

The UNBC Timberwolves are hitting the soccer pitch this week prior to hitting the books when school resumes in September.
Rookie Josh McAvoy, left, and third-year player Brett Bobier battle for the ball during a Monday training session with the UNBC men's soccer team. The squad has begun preparations for the 2014 Canada West season.

The UNBC Timberwolves are hitting the soccer pitch this week prior to hitting the books when school resumes in September.

The men's soccer side opened its week-long main training camp Sunday at Rotary Field to prepare for the 2014 season in Canadian Interuniversity Sport Canada West.

"This is a foundation week," said T-wolves head coach Alan Alderson prior to Monday's practice. "We're addressing some big areas, it's like a curriculum."

They've already spent time working on offensive and attacking strategies as well as in the backfield and their defensive play.

"This year we want to be aggressive and score goals," said Alderson. "We'll get into game situations later [this week]."

The Timberwolves are bringing back 14 returning players, including seven starters from the 2013 season in which they finished with a record of 2-9-3, last in the Canada West Pacific Division.

During the off-season, Alderson recruited east in Alberta and south in the Fraser Valley to fill the spots available on the roster.

Among the new faces are standout midfielder Francesco Bartolillo from Calgary, who has suited up for the Alberta provincial team and spent three years with the National Training Centre program. He spent last year at the University of Calgary, but didn't play for the Dinos because of an injury.

Because of that, Bartolillo will be in his first year of eligibility in Canada West.

He joins his Calgary buddy Tofa Fakunle, who was a standout rookie with UNBC last season.

Also joining the Timberwolves this year are outside midfielders Josh McAvoy and Conrad Rowlands and defender Ben Goss. All played previously for Alderson on an Abbotsford all-star team.

A pair of brothers from Langley - Dan and Rob Goodey - will also suit up for UNBC this season.

Dan is a centre back who transferred from the University of the Fraser Valley after spending one season with the Cascades, while Rob is a goalkeeper who'll be in his rookie season.

"We have a lot of new and good young players - 10 players could slot into three starting spots, including centre back and right back," said Alderson. "It's nice to have good young players. They're diverse and they're good ball players."

Camp wraps up Friday. On Saturday the current players will tackle the UNBC soccer alumni in an exhibition match at 2 p.m.

The T-wolves will cross the Rockies into Alberta on Sunday for a series of friendlies where they'll face Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton (a probationary member in Canada West) and compete in a tournament at the University of Alberta. At U of A, they'll tackle the Southeast Edmonton Reserves and the host Golden Bears. They'll then drive south to Calgary for matches against the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University.

The Timberwolves will return home to host Thompson Rivers University from Kamloops in a pair of exhibition games at Rotary Field Aug. 30-31.

Canada West realigned its divisions for 2014. UNBC is now competing in the B.C. Division which includes 2013 national champion UBC, the University of Victoria, Trinity Western (Langley), University of Fraser Valley (Abbotsford) and UBC Okanagan (Kelowna).

The T-wolves open the regular season at home Sept. 6-7 in a two-game series against UBC Okanagan, followed by visiting the defending national champs UBC in Vancouver.