Capilano University women’s soccer coach Dennis Kindel is on the doorstep of a feat that few could match in the world of Canadian college athletics – winning a national title for the same school as a player and a coach.
The Blues women booked a ticket to the 2021 CCAA national championship tournament on Sunday, Oct. 31, when they scored dramatic last-second goals not once but twice to beat the Douglas College Royals 2-1 in overtime in the PacWest provincial final at Coquitlam Town Centre. It was no doubt a thrilling result for all the Blues, but it was particularly unique for Kindel, who won a national title at that very same soccer facility 18 years earlier with the Capilano men.
Back in 2003, the Burnaby native was the goalkeeper for a powerhouse Capilano College men’s team, collecting a shutout as the Blues beat Ontario’s Seneca College 1-0 in a thrilling national final in Coquitlam. Kindel earned the top goalkeeper award at the tournament, to go along with a gold medal and some lifelong memories.
He’s back now as a head coach, and the Blues women are celebrating a provincial title and looking to add another national crown to the program’s storied history. Though the school has changed from a college to a university since he won his title as a player, Capilano still feels much the same as it was back in his playing days, says Kindel.
“Not much has changed. Everything seems to be the same, and it’s a comfortable place,” he said. “And I want to get the girls the same experience that I had because I had a very enjoyable time the three years I was at Capilano, and I think we’re getting on that route and making a lot of memories for them.”
Coach Kindel may be a familiar face – or voice, more accurately – for soccer families on the North Shore. He runs goalkeeper clinics for North Van FC, and his boisterous on-field sessions are fun to watch if you’re ever sharing a field with him.
“Goalkeeper is sometimes a tough position,” he says. “You’ve got to make it enjoyable so they get more people wanting to do the position.” He was also formerly involved with the high school academy program run out of West Vancouver’s Ecole Sentinel Secondary.
His coaching style, however, isn’t quite so over-the-top when he’s leading the Capilano women.
“You still want to make things enjoyable, but it’s university soccer, everyone works so hard,” he said.
The hard work paid off for the Blues in the provincial final, where Capilano dominated much of the play but fell behind 1-0, only to score last second goals at the end of the second half and the second overtime period to win in dramatic fashion.
“It’s probably one of the most exciting games I’ve ever coached,” said Kindel, adding that the team kept fighting even as the minutes ticked away in the second half with the Blues trailing by a goal. “The overall feeling was ‘don’t panic, keep working, keep going, keep crossing, keep shooting, just keep overwhelming them and keep pounding away at the door and it’s got to break down eventually.’ And then, eventually, it did.”
Kindel credited team captains Adrianna Babinski and Julia Peyton for their strong play and leadership, as well as midfielder Claire Ye, who was named the tournament’s top midfielder and the PacWest player of the year. Other team leaders include Kayla Campbell, the PacWest rookie of the year, as well as Andrea Perrotta, who buried the penalty shot that sent the final to overtime, and Aynsley Hurtado, who scored the winner in the 119th minute of play.
Ye, Campbell, and Hurtado were joined by Argyle grad Mya Fraser and Seycove grad Alanah Dulong on the PacWest league all-star team, while Kindel was name the league's coach of the year.
“Our senior players really stepped up when it mattered,” said Kindel.
The Blues will now shoot for a national title at the CCAA championships, running Nov. 10-13 at Toronto’s Humber College. The Blues were fifth in the latest national rankings, which came out before they won the PacWest championship. Kindel said the team is keen on winning their first national title since 2001.
“We know that going to nationals is an experience, but we’re not there to experience it,” he said. “We want to go win it.”
If they do win it, Kindel will complete the rare feat of claiming a national title for the same school as a player and coach. He won’t, however, be the first to do it. In fact, when Kindel’s team won back in 2003, it completed the double for his head coach, Paul Dailly, who also won nationals as a Capilano player in 1990 and ‘91.
Kindel is now the longest-tenured head coach at Capilano University, having joined the program in 2015, but he acknowledged he has a long way to go to catch up to Capilano soccer coaching legends such as Dailly, who won two national titles and five provincial titles as a head coach, and Doug Abercrombie, who won five national titles and eight provincial titles with the women’s program in the 1990s and 2000s.
“You’re always learning along the way,” said Kindel. “You don’t always know it all right away. It’s enjoyable, and until the passion stops maybe I’ll decide not to do it anymore, but I definitely like working there and I’m hoping to do it for another 10 years.”