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Acadia soccer defender ready to play against friends at UPEI

Acadia Axemen centre back and South Winsloe native Zach Visser will be playing against many of the men he grew up with when his squad visits UPEI on Saturday in Atlantic University Sport men’s soccer action.
Acadia Axemen centre back and South Winsloe native Zach Visser will be playing against many of the men he grew up with when his squad visits UPEI on Saturday in Atlantic University Sport men’s soccer action.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - South Winsloe native Zach Visser is hoping to come away with bragging rights this weekend.

Zach Visser

His Acadia Axemen will play the UPEI Panthers in Atlantic University Sport men’s soccer action on Saturday.

Game time at UPEI is 5:15 p.m.

What makes this game special is that UPEI boasts a heavy homegrown lineup. Visser grew up playing with many of those players.

“That’s exactly right, a lot of guys,’’ Visser said. “(I played) probably 12 to 13 years of my life with the guy that’s centre back on UPEI, Mark Smith. It will be nice to face off against him and a couple of the other guys, too.’’

As special as it will be for Visser, there will be an adjustment for the third-year Axemen defender.

“It’s a bit of a weird rivalry because it’s guys you’re used to having worn the same colours and now they’re wearing the opposite colours. It’s on friendly terms, to some point, but definitely a cool rivalry to have with those guys you’ve known you’re whole life. You know their tendencies and the way they play. It’s nice.’’

Visser said there hasn’t been any good-natured trash texting with members of the Panthers, at least not yet.

“Sometimes those texts come after the game,’’ he laughed.

Visser has taken on a much larger role with Acadia this year.

Head coach Findlay MacRae strapped the captain’s armband on Visser this season.

“It’s a pretty cool experience because coming in that first year you look up to a lot of the older guys (such as) your captain and a lot of the senior guys on your team and you see them as role models and now it’s a transition period where I hope to influence some of the younger players coming in.’’

MacRae said Visser checks all the boxes in terms of commitment he wants in a captain.

“Zach, since he came, has always been a strong player for us and he’s developed, last year, into a key player, starting for us most games and just by the way he conducts himself on and off the field, he consistently shows some leadership in terms of the workouts (and) the effort,’’ MacRae said. “He also co-ordinates various community events the team does and, in his position as centre back, that’s an important area in terms of organizing a team when we’re playing.’’

There’s plenty of knowledge to dole out. The Axemen roster features 12 rookies this season. Visser said it’s like watching the process in reverse.

“Hopefully I get to be a positive role model for them and build up more responsibility on those grounds but it’s kind of nice because you kind of get to do more leadership (stuff) and instill the same values that your seniors instilled on you a couple of years ago,’’ Visser said.

MacRae said last year the Axemen had some key fifth-year players who had been co-captains for two years. Visser shadowed them and learned.

“He was under some really good leadership himself, as kind of an understudy you could say and now, in his third year, he’s able to take that on himself.’’

Visser says he’s not the type of leader who gets up in the locker room and makes speeches.

“There are a couple of other guys on our team that tend to do more of the speaker stuff and the ralliers. I will say words when they are necessary and they’re vital. We have a lot of great leadership on the team. On the field I am definitely quite vocal and I’m a leader by word and by action.’’

Acadia comes into its game against UPEI having tied UNB last weekend before dropping a 3-1 decision to Dalhousie.

“Unfortunately, we were missing a couple of key players (against Dal). We’re looking to take six points on the weekend and continue that to secure a playoff spot, hopefully.’’

Acadia plays UPEI on Saturday and is in Sackville, N.B., on Sunday to play the Mount Allison Mounties.

dave.stewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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