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Home turf advantage key for Tigers in this weekend's championship

The Dalhousie Tigers have been unbeatable at home and they intend to keep it that way this weekend.

The Dalhousie Tigers have been unbeatable at home and they intend to keep it that way this weekend.

The Tigers, who host the Atlantic University Sport men’s soccer championship starting Friday at Wickwire Field, haven’t lost on their own turf all season and are on a sizzling 12-game winning streak at home dating back to last September.

With a second straight AUS banner in their sights, having the tournament at home is a huge plus.

“We’re just really comfortable at home and we’ve had pretty good crowd support so it adds to our advantage,” said Tigers fourth-year midfielder Chris Haughn, who is from Halifax. “It would be nice to defend our championship at home.”

The Tigers, who went 7-0 at home but 1-2-3 on the road this season to finish second, have a bye to the semifinals. They’ll play the highest remaining seed on Saturday at 3 p.m. and can punch their ticket to nationals with a win.

Strong defence has buoyed the Tigers, who allowed a conference-low eight goals in 13 games. Third-year keeper Ben Ur and a back line featuring Kerry Weymann, Talal Al-Awaid, Nathan Rogers and Jordan Mannix have led the way, while an overall team commitment has furthered the cause.

“Our two centre backs (Weymann and Rogers) are probably the best defenders in the league and as a team we’re very organized defensively, so that helps too,” Haughn said.

Added Dal head coach Pat Nearing: “Defence wins championships and that’s what we’ve been working on.”

The lone blemish on an otherwise outstanding season came two weekends ago, when Dal lost weekend games to the Cape Breton Capers and St. Francis Xavier X-Men. But a number of key players, including Haughn, Michel Daoust-Wheatley and Hamzeh Afani, were absent from the lineup.

“Not to make excuses, but we were very underpowered in strike-force that weekend,” Nearing said. “We turned it around (this past weekend) and we hope to continue that.”

Nationals are in Langley, B.C., from Nov. 12 to 15.

 
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