Changing of the Guard For the first time in 35 years, the Golden Bears soccer team will have a new head coach, as Martin Fenger-Andersen is set to take over for Len Vickery.

Despite having been involved with the Golden Bears soccer program for over a decade, taking over for one of the most successful coaches in Canada West history is a daunting task.

That is the situation Martin Fenger-Andersen finds himself in, entering his first season as the head coach of the Bears.

This winter, he was named the seventh coach in program history, as he takes over for the retired Len Vickery, who spent 34 years at the helm of the Bears.

“It is a program that I have grown up in as a player, student, and coach and it has given me so much over the years,” said Fenger-Andersen. “I look forward to continuing on the program's legacy of excellence, and to developing high-level teams, players, and students in the years to come.”

After a playing career that included two years with the Bears, and CSA Club National Championship with Edmonton Juventus, Fenger-Andersen transitioned into coaching in 2008. He began his coaching career with the Green and Gold Soccer Academy and Edmonton Juventus, before also re-joining the Bears as an assistant in 2012.

He was promoted to associate coach for the 2018 season, helping lead the Bears to a Canada West leading 12-0-2 record. In November he was named the Canada West Coach of the Year, an award Vickery captured seven times.

“Martin has been instrumental in the development of our junior program, and made his stamp on the varsity team over the past few years. He has done an excellent job in taking over from Len, and led the Bears to one of their best seasons in program history,” said U of A Athletic Director Ian Reade. “Martin brings in a fresh voice, and has done well at connecting with our talented student-athletes.”

In 34 years with the program, Vickery led the Bears to seven Canada West titles and three national championships. His 238 conference wins are the sixth most by any coach in school history, and he is one of only eight coaches with more than 300 overall victories.

2006 CIS Champion Golden Bears
“I was very fortunate to be able to work under Len and I couldn't have asked for a better mentor coach. Throughout my years working with him, I learned so much about the game and what it takes to develop high-level players and teams that can compete amongst the best in Canada,” continued Fenger-Andersen. “Perhaps more importantly, I learned from him the leadership qualities and management skills that are necessary to successfully lead the Golden Bears soccer program.”

In his first season as the head coach, the Edmonton native will aim to return the Bears to the top of Canada West and U SPORTS, with the team capturing each title last in 2016. Despite a 19-1-6 conference record in the two years since, the Bears have not made a return trip to the national championship, or earned a Canada West medal.

Along with the steep task of taking over for Vickery, Fenger-Andersen is also facing a drastic roster overhaul, after a chunk of their core players graduated or turning pro since last season. Gone is nearly every statistical leader, including conference all-stars Easton Ongaro, Ajeej Sarkaria, Ivan Borka and Connor James.

Noah Cunningham

Sarkaria and Ongaro accounted for 26 of the Bears 31 goals last season, with Sarkaria finishing his career as the all-time CW leader points (62). James, meanwhile, finished his Bears career as the conference's all-time leader in wins, shutouts and minutes played.

With so much turnover, the Bears will turn to their stingy defense core to lead them in 2019. U SPORTS All-Canadian Noah Cunningham, and Canada West all-star Janko Vong will both return to lead an experienced group that allowed just six goals in 14 matches in 2018.

The Golden Bears will begin their Canada West season on August 23rd, when they visit the Saskatchewan Huskies. They will host the Mount Royal Cougars on September 7th in their 2019 home-opener at Foote Field.

Created By
Connor Hood

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