Home Canadian Soccer CIS and Amateur Dosanjh: Even without me, T-Birds will repeat as CIS champs

Dosanjh: Even without me, T-Birds will repeat as CIS champs

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Gagan Dosanjh may no longer be a member of the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, but he’s confident his alma mater can repeat as CIS champs.

“They are my pick, they’ll always be my pick,” said FC Edmonton’s newest addition Thursday.

Dosanjh, the top player in Canadian university soccer last season, who was named the MVP of the CIS finals, scored the winning goal against the University of Alberta in the Canada West final, and helped his school to an undefeated championship season, would have been eligible to return this fall. But, in the summer he opted to take coach Colin Miller’s offer to sign a pro deal with FC Edmonton.

But, even without the country’s top collegiate player in the lineup, UBC will still be formidable.

Dosanjh said the additions of Niall Cousens will fill the offensive void. The six-foot-four striker was named to to the PDL All-Western Conference team after scoring eight times for the Whitecaps’ U-23s.

“I played with him in PDL and he’ll be a great player for them (the Thunderbirds),” said Dosanjh. “He’ll be tough on the other teams, he’s a totally different player than me; he’s six-four. But he’ll get the job done.”

Dosanjh said UBC isn’t losing many players to graduation, so the core will be returning to the fold. And, in the case of Cousens and the new recruits, it doesn’t take long to be immersed in T-Birds’ tradition.

“The tradition, you’re made aware of it as soon as you are there,” said Dosanjh.”You’re made aware of all the records; that tradition, it’s instilled in you. For example, we know that UBC, when they make it nationals, the only times they’ve lost is in the championship game. That’s pretty special.”

And, Dosanjh says that UBC has another major advantage — playing in what’s by far the best soccer conference in the country, Canada West. With rivals like 2011 champ University of Victoria and powerhouse programs out of Trinity Western and Alberta, it’s hard for Canada West teams to come up for air. Longer road trips toughen them up for the finals. ‘

“The last two years, champs have come from Canada West. Sometimes, it is harder to make it out of the Canada West tournament than to play at nationals. And, for the Canada West teams that make it, they’ve just come out of a very tough tournament and then have to go to nationals. And the travel is tough. You have to go to Alberta and Saskatchewan for games. I was looking at the schedule and it looks like we have to go to Prince George for a couple of games. That’s really tough.”

Compare that to Ontario teams, who might complain about a jaunt from Toronto to Guelph, or from London to Kitchener-Waterloo. To the western teams, those kind of road trips would be seen as easy to take.

This weekend, UBC testes its mettle against coach Alan Koch’s Simon Fraser side, which made it to the NCAA II Final Four. The Canadian champs against the school that chooses to play in the NCAA — and both want to be called British Columbia’s best university team.

“I wish I was there to be a part of it,” said Dosanjh. “I know a lot of things get said behind the scenes. But it’s important to prove that UBC is still the top dog in British Columbia soccer. I think we can do that.”

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