Peter Schaale was an early Christmas gift for HFX Wanderers FC fans in 2019.
The club revealed in mid-December that their stalwart German centre back had re-signed for the 2020 CPL season, after he’d returned to Cape Breton University in the Fall to play out his eligibility there.
Schaale, the fifth overall pick in the 2018 CPL-U SPORTS Draft, went back to school last August after making 22 total appearances for the Wanderers across all competitions. He’d been a fan favourite for the club all season, helping bank six clean sheets as one of the most reliable central defenders in the league,
But through the CPL’s agreement with U SPORTS, he returned to the Capers for one more year to see out his education.
“I always wanted to come back,” Schaale told CanPL.ca about re-signing with the Wanderers. “I had to keep some options open, I looked overseas and at some other options that might be there, but deep down I always wanted to come back.”
He added: “I felt really comfortable here last year. I like the city a lot, I like the club a lot, the fans are amazing.”
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One sticky situation the Wanderers had to navigate in re-signing Schaale was that the 23-year-old from Wittlich, Germany will now count as an international player under the CPL’s roster rules. Still, he’s important enough to the club for it to be worth it. The plan, at least for the coaching staff, seemed always to be to have Schaale around for a while.
“He had some raw qualities that I liked,” said Wanderers coach Stephen Hart about his initial choice to bring in the centre back. “I thought if I could keep him for a few years I could help him on his game, especially on the side of the game in possession of the ball.”
After an off-season that saw a lot of roster turnover on the East Coast, Schaale is one of the constants on the current HFX roster. He wore the captain’s armband on several occasions in 2019, and he might be a frontrunner to wear it again in 2020.
The Wanderers’ backline, especially, was overhauled a great deal for this season, with Schaale’s previous centre-back partner, Matthew Arnone, moving to York9 FC. He’s been replaced by newcomers such as Eriks Santos and Jems Geffrard, with Chrisnovic N’Sa and Alex De Carolis also returning from last year’s Wanderers squad.
“I got along with Matthew really well, he’s a great player, but our defence is very strong this year,” Schaale reassured HFX fans. “There’s gonna be a lot of competition.”
Unfortunately, Schaale wasn’t able to kick off with his new teammates as scheduled, with their home opener against Atlético Ottawa last weekend sadly postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems the club had been desperate to get back on the pitch and redeem themselves after struggles in the results department in 2019.
“I feel really good about the new group, really confident,” Schaale said. “That’s why it hurts even more that we can’t train right now.
“I felt really good about this group of guys. We’re a very young team this year, and very hungry.”