For a team with six provincial men’s soccer titles in the past seven years, Halifax City has an inexplicable way of flying under the radar.
Whether it’s the club’s tendency to post ordinary results throughout the regular season or the fact its roster is laden with 30-something veterans who critics perceive as long in the tooth, City is one of those teams that never seems to be the favourite until the final whistle sounds.
With another Nova Scotia Soccer League Premiership season set to open on Saturday, has that changed?
“I doubt it,” responded City head coach Darrell Cormier. “But that’s the way I like it.”
City, with a combined record of 20-9-5 the past two regular seasons, has ousted Halifax Dunbrack, a team still riding a 34-game regular-season unbeaten streak, in back-to-back provincial finals.
City’s veteran core, which has been around for most of the past decade, is back for another crack at it, led by strikers Kristin Kirincich and Mat Budreski, midfielders Kevin Steeves and Carl Ensminger, and defender Jamie Sawler, among many others.
And in goal, Cormier describes Graham Little as “one of the best in the province.”
The club will receive another boost with the addition of former NCAA Division I all-American Dylan Sheehan from the Brown Bears and former Premiership all-star Chris Coxon on defence.
Meanwhile, Cormier is hoping to integrate five Canada Games standouts into the lineup along with emerging youngsters such as striker Jonathan Hammond and midfielder Stuart MacAdam.
“The older guys are all about trying to help the young guys get the time and knowledge they need to become champions themselves,” Cormier said. “Hopefully, I’ll never say we’re in a transition year. I hate the way that sounds.”
Dunbrack has lost reigning Premiership MVP Derek Gaudet at midfield, while several other mainstays have moved over to Dartmouth United. City expects a tough test from both rivals among others in the eight-team circuit.
“Hopefully it’s going to be a great season for everyone,” Cormier said. “We’ll have some fun trying to figure out who’s the best again.”