UNBC men practicing at Masich this week

If you want to know who's playing where for the UNBC Timberwolves men's soccer team, better get a program.

The lineup has changed considerably from last year.

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Seven T-wolves, including veteran goalies Ty Venhola and Mitch MacFarlane, played their fifth and final seasons of eligibility last year and have moved on, leaving plenty of roster positions for head coach Steve Simonson to fill.

Also gone to graduation are Canada West all-star striker Tofa Fakunle, forward Cheona Edzerza and defenders Dan Goodey, Brett Bobier and Darin Kamsteeg.

"We've lost some guys everyone's familiar with who had been around for awhile but we've had people sort of waiting in the wings to fill those roles and a couple of new players come in and quite frankly we're real excited about the look of our group this year," said Simonson.

"We just have a whole different vibe about us, a whole different style, a different sort of playing ability and I'm excited about it. There's just a positive glow, not just about this year but the future of the program looks good."

While the T-wolves lost some size up front, they hope to make up for that with their quickness. Fourth-year veteran Francesco Bartolillo is a quality attacker and Gordon Hall and Conrad Rowlands are stalwarts on defence. The T-wolves also have experience at midfield with Jonah Smith, Joel Watson, Owen Stewart, Liam Stewart, Cody Gyspers, Rodney Wheatcroft and Josh McAvoy on the case.

The list of new recruits includes goalie Daniel Zadravec, Theo Weismuller, Michael Henman and local product Anthony Preston (see above story).

The T-wolves began their training camp last Wednesday and will get on the field turf at Masich Place Stadium for the first time for a 7 p.m. practice today - about a month later than anticipated. The fine details of the $4.8-million renovation project to install the turf and rebuild the track and field facilities took an extra month to complete.

"I think the turf fits our style - it's a better surface in terms of footing, a quicker surface, said Simonson. "There's a quickness about our team this year (which) maybe wasn't there in the past and I think the player are excited about it."

The T-wolves open the pre-season with games in Kamloops this weekend against Thompson Rivers University, UBC Okanagan and Langara College. The following weekend they'll be in Edmonton for pre-season action against Alberta, Grant MacEwan and NAIT.

The T-wolves host the Victoria Vikes in their season-opener at Masich Stadium on Friday, Aug. 24.

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