Tritons fall to UK soccer opposition

Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout Newspaper

Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout Newspaper

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

The Tritons men’s soccer team returned to action last week with a seven-aside match against a touring team of British Army players. 

It didn’t matter to Tritons coach PO1 Patrick Robbins that his team surrendered two second-half goals in a 3-1 loss to British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) in Alberta. What did matter was how his charges performed after a nearly two-year layoff due to the global pandemic.

Many of his players are new to the Tritons, a team that hasn’t kicked a ball in more than 17 months since COVID-19 health measures were implemented.

“This was our first game in a long time and a good challenge for our guys against a young and fit team from Alberta by way of the United Kingdom,” he says. “I thought our passing was very strong and this new group of players worked very well together, but there were also some things we will need to work on.”

The men’s Tritons and British Army Training Unit Suffield soccer teams after a friendly soccer game.

The men’s Tritons and British Army Training Unit Suffield soccer teams after a friendly soccer game.

The game was played at the Gorge Soccer Association’s Hampton Park Turf field in Esquimalt. BATUS held a 1-0 lead on a header from LCpl Alex Clark until 10 minutes after the halftime break. That’s when Tritons striker S3 Joshua Charles caught the opposition defence napping and struck a hard right-footed blast past the BATUS goalkeeper.

“I saw the opening and hit a pretty good shot with my right foot into the top corner of their net,” says S3 Charles.

S3 Charles, currently posted to Naden as a Naval Electronic Sensor Operator, lamented his team’s missed chances while acknowledging the skill and ability of the opposition.

Only moments after S3 Charles’ equaliser, BATUS regained their lead with an equally clinical finish from visitor Cpl Scriven whose well-placed shot found the back of the net.

Ten minutes from full time, an unmarked Sgt Oliver Tonks of BATUS struck for his team’s third goal. Sgt Tonks is the team’s player-coach and serves in the British Army as an Electronics Technician. The pint-sized midfielder completed a darting run down the right wing and then scored from a tight angle.

He also set up his team’s opening goal but quickly brushed aside any praise of his play. Like his opponents, Sgt Tonks was more focused on the importance of returning to play. He and his team, nicknamed the Rovers, have also been kept out of action in their local indoor league in Ralston, Alta., due to COVID-19 lockdowns. So a return to action was warmly welcomed.

“We are just a rag-tag group of players posted from all different parts of our country and different parts of the army,” he says. “It’s good to be getting a break from work and exchanging it for a little bit of sport which is truly awesome.”

The Tritons were using their seven-aside match in preparation for an upcoming full-squad match against 19 Wing Comox. On Oct. 7, the Tritons men’s and women’s teams will travel to Nanaimo for exhibition games against players from the air base.


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