Xavier Araujo learned from the best in his second season with the UVic Vikes.
“It was good to play sort of in the shadow of the CIS Player of the Year, Cam Hundal,” said Araujo, a second-year player with the Penticton Tim Hortons Pinnacles, who red-shirted his first year with UVic.
Not only was Hundal the CIS Player of the Year, he was also the Canada West Player of the Year and a first team all-star. From Araujo’s perspective, to watch a player with Hundal’s skill set “was awesome.”
With Hundal’s eligibility finished, Araujo hopes he can step into the veteran’s spot after seeing action in four games last year.
“The dream is to get more playing time,” said the former Pinnacles FC product.
The Penticton product learned a lot from Hundal, who was always positive on the field.
“No matter what we’re at. Always, always positive both in his language on the field and his game play,” said Araujo. “He receives the ball and how can I move forward with the ball, how can we attack. A game we would be playing terrible in, and then all of a sudden, he would just score a goal or make an assist. He was always involved in the game. He was fantastic. Awesome to play under his shadow.”
From what he learned, Araujo wants to help his hometown team have success and it starts with his speed.
“Last season I felt like I was really slow compared to the speed of the Premier league,” he said. “Now coming back, I understand how quick you have to be, how you can’t dribble too much. Always like to be two steps ahead before you receive the ball.”
Pinnacles assistant coach Manuel Borba said Araujo has been one of the better players on the team. It’s expected.
Araujo wasn’t able to play the Pinnacles last home game in the Pacific Coast Soccer League on June 4 because of an ankle injury. That injury also kept him out of their last two road games, a 4-0 loss to the Mid-Island Mariners on June 11 and a 4-2 loss to Khalsa Sporting June 12. He looks forward to Thursday’s match against Vancouver United FC at Kings Park at 7 p.m. as he believes he will be medically cleared to play. Vancouver United FC has won three matches and lost twice. The last time the two teams played was on May 29 and the Pinnacles lost 5-0. The Pinnacles play again at home on July 2 against the Khalsa Sporting Club, also at 7 p.m.
Borba said he has looked good in practice.
“It will be nice to have him back this weekend,” said Borba. “We need his leadership, we need his skill out there. Hopefully he is going to be a big help.”
Another area he wants to help is with discipline.
“I think as soon as we start going down, we almost kind of lose our momentum,” he said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. In a soccer game anything can happen. No matter what’s happening or who we are against, we have to be able to combat that and move forward.”