WolfPack women regroup for new year of CIS play

Last year’s rough start left the team with a 1-10-1 record, but they’re hopeful not to repeat that this year

Women’s soccer head coach Tom McManus (TRU Athletics)

Women’s soccer head coach Tom McManus (TRU Athletics)

It was a trial by fire for the WolfPack women’s soccer team last year as they competed in the highest level of Canadian univer­sity soccer for the first time.

After making the jump from the PacWest conference to the top league of Canadian Interuni­versity Sport (CIS), the WolfPack struggled to a record of 1 win, 10 losses and a draw. Throughout the offseason, head coach Tom McManus, his coaching staff and all of the players took the lessons they learned from a difficult year and worked hard to come back ready for the 2015 season.

Defense was an area of strength last year for the Wolf­Pack, with the team surrendering one goal or fewer in six of their twelve matches. Any strong defense ends with the person between the posts, and goal­keeper is a position that will see a change as Emily Edmundson, starter for the last four years, graduates.

Despite losing a player as important as Edmundson, expect the quality of play in net to barely miss a beat this year, as fifth-year keeper Taylor Shantz transfers to TRU from Quest University, where she started the last three years. McManus was contacted by Shantz about the possibility of her coming to play for TRU during the summer and was thrilled to add her to the team.

“I was very happy to have Taylor come in, she’s a good goalkeeper – and she can lead the way now,” McManus said.

Moving slightly up the field we find a defense that features a nice blend of experience and new players. One of the players leading the charge from the back will be third-year defender Sarah Seebach, a transfer player who comes to TRU after playing two years with the Carleton Ravens in the CIS. McManus really likes the CIS experience that Seebach brings to the team.

“She’s very mature, a very good player who will do well.”

McManus favours the 4-2-3-1 formation, which enables him to deploy five midfielders on the pitch. With two defensive mid­fielders and three playing further up, the hope when utilizing this formation is that the extra body will allow the team to win the all-important possession battle in the middle of the field.

“This year I look towards the bench and I can see people who I know I am very comfortable putting in,” he said.

It will be the play of yet another player that transferred to TRU this season, fifth-year midfielder Brianna Powrie, that will have a big say in how TRU fares this season. Powrie will play the crucial role of linking the defensive midfielders with the attacking players.

After scoring just nine goals last season, offense was some­thing that McManus focused on over the summer as an area that he really wanted to see the team improve in.

“Strikers were what my main goal was, to get people who are quick, who want to shoot fast,” he said.

A familiar face will be one of those looking to provide the WolfPack with that spark up front. McManus described fifth-year forward Katie Sparrow as “the key to our strike force because she’s so quick, and she creates opportunities for other strikers.”

Sparrow will be hoping for a healthy season after an inju­ry-riddled 2014 severely limited her playing time. With a healthy Sparrow, the additions of fifth-year forward Danielle Fauteux and first-year player Marisa Men­donca all lining up beside fifth year Jaydene Radu, McManus feels as though the offense is the most improved position group coming into the year.

As the 2015 women’s soccer season begins, it is clear that this is a team that is ready to take to the field and see a vast improvement on their play from last year, through the addition of new players and the fact that the players from last year’s team are now acclimatized to the fast pace of play and rigorous travel associated with the CIS.

Team fares well in weekend play

For the first time in school history, the WolfPack women’s soccer team made the trip across two time zones to play in the province of Manitoba this past weekend. Games against the University of Manitoba, as well as the Winnipeg Wesmen were on the schedule and TRU will be making the return trip in relatively good spirits after winning one and losing one.

Up first for the WolfPack was a challenging game against the University of Manitoba Bison, who finished last season with a record of 4 wins, 4 losses and 4 draws. The game got off to an auspicious start as the action was forced to move to the Bison’s indoor soccer complex due to a severe lightning warning in the area.

Manitoba took a commanding 3-0 lead before halftime with second-year forward Bruna Mavignier, who tied for third in goals scored in Canada West last year during her rookie cam­paign, scoring two goals and adding an assist. The second half proved to be a more even affair with TRU pushing to get back into the game, but to no avail. WolfPack Head Coach Tom McManus spoke to TRU Athletics about the difficulty his team faced playing on the indoor surface.

“Manitoba was playing the long ball into corners and was used to crossing the ball. It took us a bit of time to adjust,” McManus said.

Manitoba would add an insur­ance goal in the 80th minute to see the game end with a final score of 4-0.

TRU found far greater success in their second game of the season as they triumphed 3-1 over the University of Winnipeg Wesmen. Getting out to a quick start is always key when trying to bounce back from a loss, and the WolfPack managed to find that quick start when fifth-year forward Jaydene Radu scored just seven minutes into the match. The first half contin­ued to go the WolfPack’s way as third-year defender Kindra Maricle found the back of the net in the 24th minute before Radu added her second goal of the half just two minutes later. Winnipeg managed to pull one goal back on the stroke of halftime but the TRU defense would tighten up from there as they managed to hold off the Winnipeg attackers for the rest of the match.

McManus spoke to TRU Ath­letics about the importance of his team’s depth.

“It was a much better effort this afternoon, we got everyone into the game as well which is a good sign.”

Fifth-year midfielder Brianna Powrie was distributing the ball well throughout the game as she tallied an assist on all three of TRU’s goals.

Coming home from the trip to Manitoba having registered a “W” in the win column has to be looked at as a success for the WolfPack, as it took them ten tries to get their first victory last season. The team will be back on the road next weekend as they travel to Edmonton to play the University of Alberta before crossing back into B.C. to play the University of Northern British Columbia.