HFX Wanderers defender Peter Schaale was on OneSoccer Today Monday speaking one–on–one with Andi Petrillo ahead of the 2021 CPL season to chat preseason training in Nova Scotia, the Island Games, and some of his team’s new recruits.
Schaale, who said he’s been in Halifax since January, was able to train for a couple of months in the city before team preseason began in March. Training has since been halted for the club, with another COVID–19 lockdown imposed in the city in late–April due to a spike in cases.
Looking back on last year’s run to the final at the Island Games, Schaale said that the positive attitude around the Halifax camp to overcome the adversity of the season, as well as several new signings, were the main differences from a disappointing 2019 season.
“I think we played much better football than the last year,” Schaale said. “We were more dangerous than the first year.
“The belief in the team was there throughout the whole tournament. That started early in preseason when we said ‘hey guys, we can do something here, we have a special team’ and I think that’s the main reason why we did so well.”
Schaale added head coach Stephen Hart, who won the 2020 Canadian Premier League Coach of the Year award, was a big factor in the club’s success. Hart was given a lot of praise in PEI for knowing how to manage a tournament–style season, which several CPL coaches were doing for the first time.
“He’s very experienced,” Schaale started. “He’s been to a lot of tournaments in his career, and he’s one of the most–capped coaches in (Concacaf) Gold Cup history, so he knows what it means to be on the road with a team, to entertain 20–25 guys at the same time to keep them all together in a hotel situation for a couple of weeks.”
He also acknowledged that while HFX had a great 2020 season, success in 2021 isn’t a given.
“I think we still have a lot to prove,” he said. “It was a bubble situation last year, it wasn’t a normal season, and I think that’s why we still have a lot to prove.
“I’m very confident in our group, so let’s see.”
Halifax has five newcomers to their squad thus far – goalkeeper Kieran Baskett, defender Morey Doner, midfielders Jérémy Gagnon–Laparé and Pierre Lamothe, and forward Samuel Salter – and Schaale is excited about the new additions.
“I think so far that all the additions that we’ve made for this year have been really good in practice, I’ve been impressed,” he said. “Morey, of course, has a lot of experience in the CPL and he’s a very good player.
“He’s someone who’s playing close to me, which I’m looking forward to for sure. Jérémy has a lot of experience, Eriks (Santos) has finally made it into the country,” he added. “And other guys from U–Sports, like Pierre Lamothe, great addition too, I really like him. A couple of young guys just bring hunger to the squad in general.”