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HomeSportsSoccerCape Breton Capers soccer teams look to break records this season

Cape Breton Capers soccer teams look to break records this season

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When Ze Cunha first met a soccer recruiter from Cape Breton University, he admits he didn’t know where the university was located.

Once the Portugal resident learned about the success of the soccer program, he said joining the team was a no-brainer. When he saw the championship banners hanging in the university’s gymnasium, he knew he made a good decision.

The Capers men’s soccer team is aiming to win a seventh straight Atlantic University Sport championship, which would be a record for the conference.

Cunha said joining a small campus with a high standard to perform was important for him. 

‘Good pressure’

“It’s important because it’s a good pressure to have student-athletes like me come here and we want to perform at a higher level,” he said.

“We want to win trophies and we want to develop as players and, hopefully, a lot of us want to move on to bigger and better things.”

During the current championship run, the team has never finished lower than fourth at the national tournament. They won gold in 2017.

“And we’re able to do it because we believe we have a culture built around the idea of a winning mentality,” said head coach Deano Morley. “Everything we do is about the idea that winning is a habit.”

Ness Timmons and Deano Morley stand in the Sullivan Fieldhouse at CBU. Behind them is banners from the sports teams across campus.
Women’s head coach Ness Timmons, left, and men’s coach, Deano Morley, say the teams are able to compete with larger universities. (Matthew Moore/CBC)

Heading into the final weeks of the regular season, the Capers are third in the national rankings behind the University of British Columbia and Université de Montréal, schools with student populations 10 times larger than CBU.

The Capers women’s team is also chasing a record heading into the postseason. If the team wins the AUS banner for a 13th time, they would pass Dalhousie’s record for most in the conference.

All 12 of the school’s championships have come since 2003.

Ally Rowe, the team’s current leading scorer, said she knew the university was among the best in the country when she was recruited. She said the campus and community gave the native of Kitchener, Ont., positive vibes.

Family, community

She said she was struck by the feeling of family among the players and community.

“It was just amazing and I thought I could make this home for at least five years,” Rowe said.

The CBU women are seventh in the national rankings. They are in pursuit of their first national title since 2007.

Ness Timmons, in his 26th year as the team’s head coach, said bringing both soccer programs to where they are now wasn’t easy.

“The name Cape Breton University or the Capers is synonymous with soccer excellence across the country,” he said. “Now in the clubs and in the schools and coaches and academies, they’ve heard of us.”

The Cape Breton men are the host team for this year’s national tournament beginning Nov. 9.

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