By: Dwayne Tingley
Outstanding Cape Breton Capers veteran Peter Schaale talks like a champion—and so do his teammates, who are chasing their fourth straight AUS men's soccer title this fall.
"Our strength is the culture we have built in this program over the years," said the fourth-year defender and reigning AUS MVP from Bernkastel-Kues, Germany.
"At the same time, we hold each other to very high standards on and off the pitch every day," the all-Canadian added. "Adding to that, we have a really good team vibe and a great roster on either end of the pitch."
The Capers won the conference championship last year with a 10-0-2 record during the regular season, outscoring their opponents 36-5. They blanked the UNB Reds in the final and finished second at the U SPORTS national championship.
"Our goal is clearly to win another AUS championship and also aim for gold at nationals," said Schaale, who played with the Halifax Wanderers of the Canadian Premier League this summer.
"It is an important year for us to integrate our seven rookies into the team environment and culture to make sure they will hold the program to high standards as the senior players leave."
Close team chemistry has been the key to the success of the Capers in recent years.
"Most of the players live together on campus and spend a lot of time together," said Schaale. "Teammates help out on and off the pitch, which builds a bond second to none."
The Capers begin regular season play on Sept. 6, when they square off against the UNB Reds at 7:15 p.m. in Sydney, N.S.
Capers head coach Dean Morley emphasized the strength of the Capers is every player's commitment to teamwork.
"I like to make sure every player understands their role, feels a part of the team chemistry and that we're all in this journey together," he said. "We go through the ups together and we go through the downs together.
"We are a CBU family—that's how we built our program and that's how we've built our culture."
Morley joined the Capers in 2004 as a player then became an assistant coach in 2007. He took over the program in 2014.
"My coaching staff is the best in the country," he said. "They support me and they build excellence in our players. Their experience, knowledge, skill set and the way they are focused at developing good people and not just good players allows us to retain quality people."
Meanwhile, the UNB Reds came just short last year after recording a 7-2-3 mark during the regular season. They have 10 starters returning this fall.
"We are pleased with how this group progressed throughout last season," said head coach Miles Pinsent. "We want to use this experience to enable us to have a positive start to our season.
"Our approach," he added, "is always to do everything we can in September and October to prepare ourselves to play our best soccer come conference and national championships."
AUS regular season action kicks off on Friday, Sept. 6, with some openeing weekend games having been rescheduled in advance of impending weather.
The UPEI Panthers visit the StFX X-Men at 3:30 p.m. At 7:15 p.m., the UNB Reds visit the Cape Breton Capers in Sydney, N.S., the Dalhousie Tigers visit the Moncton Aigles Bleus in Moncton, N.B., and the Mount Allison Mounties visit the Acadia Axemen in Wolfville, N.S.
The Saint Mary's Huskies and Memorial Sea-Hawks will open their seasons Saturday, Sept. 7 as scheduled with game time set for 3:15 p.m. NDT in St. John's, N.L.
"The AUS is a quality conference that consistently has not been given enough recognition across Canada," said the Capers' Coach Morley.
"You only have to look at the last decade of medal winners at the national finals and you will see the AUS leads the charge. We have great coaches and good programs and most games are very competitive."