from The Guardian (newspaper of Prince Edward Island)


Saturday, April 1, 2006

Great summer job

Former UPEI Panther Ryan Anstey signs a contract with a professional soccer team in Toronto.

By Dave Stewart
The Guardian

Charlottetown’s Ryan Anstey, Canada’s top university men’s soccer player in 2005-06, has found himself a summer job playing in the pros.

Anstey signed a two-year contract this week with a club option for a third year with the Toronto Lynx of the United Soccer League.

The league is basically one notch below Major League Soccer and, with Toronto about to join the MLS this year, the Lynx looks to be the feeder club.

“I’m pretty excited now that the contract is done,’’ Anstey told The Guardian Friday. “Once exams are done (at UPEI) I think I’ll be able to relax and concentrate on soccer and not worry about a million other things.’’

The USL includes a first and a second division. The Lynx is one of 16 teams playing out of the first division.

The Lynx opens its regular season April 22 in Virginia Beach before playing its first home game on May 13, the day Anstey turns 23.

As excited as Anstey is, his first priority is finishing out his school year and attending athletic banquets at UPEI (Saturday night) and Sport P.E.I. on April 12

Anstey was scheduled to arrive home early this morning.

Given the tumultuous situation with the UPEI strike, Anstey isn’t sure when he’ll suit up for his first game with the Lynx.

“I told the coach about the strike and as soon as I can finish exams I’ll be (heading to Toronto). They know I want to finish my education, that’s the first thing I have to do. Once I finish that I’m all theirs. They want me back as soon as I can be but they understand that school comes first.’’

Anstey is coming off quite a year with the UPEI men’s soccer Panthers who hosted the national tournament last fall. The Panthers fell in the national semifinal in a heartbreaking shootout.

He was also selected as Canadian Interuniversity Sport soccer’s outstanding player of the year as well as an All-Canadian.

Anstey was the nation’s leading scorer, Atlantic conference most valuable player and first-team all-star.

Anstey said he gives his UPEI coach, Lewis Page, all the credit.

“I’m a product of his system. He coached me long before that too. He’s pretty well made me who I am today . . . he really gave me the opportunity to (turn pro).’’

But as good as he was, he admits playing pro will be quite an adjustment. Consider, for instance, that Romario, who won two World Cups with Brazil, recently signed with Miami in the USL.

“Just from the training camp I’ve noticed the skill level has jumped enormously,’’ Anstey said. “The ball control, the dribbling, the body positioning, the way they shield you away from the ball, everything is so different.Even when you’re coming at a keeper, he makes you shoot where he wants you to shoot. You don’t get a choice . . . and the game is a lot faster, too.’’

Anstey said Duncan Wilde, head coach with the Lynx, plans on starting him slowly.

“For the first few games, he plans on bringing me in during the last half hour of the game just to kind of fool the defenders. They won’t be expecting a no-name guy to come on the field, a guy they’ve never heard of. Once that wears off he will be looking to get me more minutes. Sounds good to me.’’

Anstey said his long-term plans include enrolling in law school at UNB in the fall but, if things go well, he hopes to get a shot in the MLS.

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