In Calgary Foothills’ short time as a PDL club, they have been known to field some excellent players in goal. Simon Thomas, who played for Foothills during their 2014 exhibition campaign, is in his third year in Norway, and is a regular on the Canadian national men’s team. As well, Sean Melvin and Nolan Wirth, who split duties in 2015, have both signed USL deals with Whitecaps FC 2 and Phoenix Rising, respectively. Melvin made his national team debut in January, and Wirth has suited up for the national under 20 team in 2015.
2016-17’s addition to this list is Grant MacEwan goalkeeper Dylon Powley. Powley is different from the other names mentioned above, as he did not grow up playing for the Whitecaps Residency, and is the lone product from the Canadian University system. In 2016, Powley would be instrumental to Calgary’s run to the PDL final, as his penalty save against Seattle Sounders U-23 in the Northwest Division play-in game would keep the score at 1-1 and force overtime. Powley would go on to win that game, and 3 more, on the way to a heartbreaking defeat in the PDL final.
I recently interviewed Dylon to find out more about his history, his current CIS and PDL career, and what’s in store for the future.
For anyone who is just learning about you now, how would you describe your game?
I would describe my game as an “aggressive modern day keeper” I love having the ball at my feet and playing high off my line to support my back four under pressure. I also come out for crosses quite a lot. I have the mindset that any cross that comes into my area belongs to me and it’s my job to go get it.
Tell us about your youth career, prior to playing in CIS with Grant MacEwan.
Prior to CIS I played for Edmonton Drillers under coach Mark Spiller at the U-18 level. During my final season of youth my team ended up making it to provincials where we actually played two foothills teams (96 and 97) It was the Foothills 97 boys that we met in the final and it just so happens that Tommy and Jay who are my coaches now, were coaches for the team we beat to go to nationals.
Did you always play in goal?
When I was ten years old I tried out for my first team as a striker. After originally being cut from that team, about a week later I received a phone call from the coach saying there had been a mix up and somehow I had been put with the group that did not make it. The coach asked me if I wanted the spot on the team and I said of course. About three or four games into the season both of our keepers were out of town for I volunteered to play goalie, and ended up getting the first clean sheet of my career, the rest is history.
Playing youth soccer in Edmonton, did you play against some of the other Edmonton products on Foothills?
Growing up I also played for the 96 Juventus team, which was the team one year younger than the best team in club history 95 Juventus. I believe they went to nationals three times and won twice, and on that team was Ajeej and Bruno, so we would always have exhibition games against them.
You’ve saved the most shots in Canada West the last 2 CIS seasons, despite playing fewer games than other keepers. Sounds like you’re being relied upon heavily at MacEwan to be a big shot stopper?
Macewan is still fairly new to the CIS, and part of being the “new guy” is it takes a while to get up to the standard. That alongside with having a new coach this past year who was hired very last minute and didn’t get a chance to recruit any new players’ makes even more difficult. As the keeper I just try to save as much as I can. Having the most saves for the past two seasons is a nice stat to have, but from a team point of view, not exactly one that we want to have.
A couple of your Foothills teammates were #1 and #2 in the CIS Golden Boot this last year. Which one has been the most difficult to play against at the CIS level?
This past year Russo and Ajeej were nearly impossible to stop. They both have certain styles that make it impossible to defend which lead to them taking over the CIS this year. I think this year in our games Ajeej scored a hat trick on me in one game and Russo scored a couple which they continue to remind me of.
Moving to PDL, how did you get involved with Calgary Foothills?
Karl Oram was the assistant coach last year for the team and after our Macewan Head Coach stepped down, Karl became the temporary coach while we looked for a new one. During our time together we went down to Phoenix with Macewan and after a couple of good individual performances Karl and I had a one on one and he said “what are you doing this summer?” I came down a few months later, met Tommy, and now here I am.
How would you compare the play between the CIS and PDL levels?
CIS is a great level to play at when PDL is over. It provides a good training environment and game atmosphere to play in, but there is something about PDL that has just a little extra. Maybe it is the Canada vs USA rivalry that we have when playing in the states, maybe it is Foothills (which is mostly CIS based players) proving that we can play and beat NCAA players, it just has a different aspect which makes it even more competitive than CIS.
One of the defining moments for me in last year’s run to the finals was your penalty save against Sounders U-23 to keep the game level at 1. Take us through that save.
I don’t remember a lot of it to be honest. It all happened so quickly and all I remember hearing is the whistle and the ref pointing to the penalty spot. It was one of those times where I got lucky to tip it onto the bar, and even luckier the kicker put it over the net on the rebound. But last year that was one of our mottos: “luck of champions”.
Tell me about the rest of the playoff run. What was the highlight?
After that Seattle game we went to the western conference champions in Tucson where the weather was +40 all day every day, and as Canadian players we weren’t used to it, and to top it off the boys had to wear their black jerseys for the game. The highlight is definitely the feeling of hearing the final whistle blow in the championship game and feeling all of the pressure lifted. After that we traveled to New Jersey to play Ocean City where we won 3-0 to get to the final. We then ended up in the final where I think from a personal standpoint the biggest cliché in all of sports became reality “you win some you lose some”. But I know for myself, and all of the guys who were there last year, it isn’t a feeling that we want to experience again.
After the PDL season, what’s up next in the fall?
After the season is over, I plan on hopefully moving to Europe and pursuing my dream over there. It’s always been a dream of mine to see how far I can take it, so this year I going to take a leap of faith and try it out.
Any plans for your post CIS career?
Post CIS I hope to being playing at the highest level of my ability. Whether that’s division 5 somewhere, or somewhere more local, it’s something I am working towards.
Thanks Dylon, best of luck in the rest of the PDL season, looking forward to another long playoff run!
Editor’s Note: We are aware that CIS recently rebranded as U-Sports. However, most players, coaches & soccer media continue to refer to them as CIS at this time. Please accept that all references to CIS above are indeed in reference to U-Sports. Thank you.