The Cambrian College Golden Shield men's soccer program reached new heights last season by earning a berth in the OCAA's final four.
The players have returned brimming with confidence after last year's result and head coach Giuseppe Politi would love to get back to that spot, though he cautioned it will take near perfect execution.
"I think with the returning players there is higher expectations than other years, and they tasted that success and want more," he said. "Even with the new recruits, they saw the results and want to be part of a good program, so the feeling is different but to achieve that again will take a lot. A final four finish hasn't been accomplished by a men's team in Sudbury since 1999, and we cherish that moment but it will be tough.
"I think it's great to have youthful optimism, but as a coach we have to stay grounded and get the work in," he added. "But to get to that final four with such a small school, we have to be on our game, be opportunistic, don't make any mistakes and have a bit of luck sometimes. We eliminated the defending national champs last season on penalties, and that's how we're going to have to get through. On paper they are better than us but we did what we had to do. I want the guys to give us the opportunity to get to the provincials again, surprise someone and get to final four and perform better than last year."
Warley Santos is back with the team after missing last season, and he believes last year's finish will help right from the get-go.
"Hopefully we have struck some fear into the opposition after last year, because intimidation is part of the game," he said. "If we strike fear into them they will come out scared and we can pressure right away and get a win."
Santos has noticed a different feel at training camp.
"They made final four last year, so the goal is to get back there," he said. "It's always good to have expectations high, and we are looking to do our best. With this team, we haven't won anything yet, but we want that first title and we put the pressure on ourselves to do well this year, and that is the pressure we have.
"We need to finish well, that will be our toughest part, and holding the good teams back will be another key," he added. "We are still the underdogs even after a final four finish, but it's looking great and we are practicing well, so it should be a good year."
David Nwaokolo said he and his teammates have set the bar as high as possible.
"We are a lot more confident this year, and we feel we can get a medal," he said. "The final four was nice, but we have already been there; we want a medal to bring back to Cambrian for the first time ever, and I believe we can do it with a lot of good new players that are really skilled this year."
"It should be a really fun year and people should come watch us for sure," he added.