End of an era for WolfPack women’s soccer

Adam Williams, Sports Editor Ω

The WolfPack women’s soccer team wrapped up their regular season with an emotional win Oct. 21, as they defeated the Vancouver Island Mariners 3-2. For veterans Abbey McAuley, Chloe McAuley and Blair MacKay it was their final game at Hillside Stadium, bringing to a close five years of playing soccer for TRU.

“It was exciting to finish with a win, it was the greatest feeling,” said co-captain Abbey McAuley. “But it’s sad. Once that final whistle blew it finally hit that it was our last game [at Hillside].”

It’s a sentiment that was expressed by all three of the ladies following the game, including MacKay, who summed her up feelings in relatively few words.

“Bittersweet. I really loved playing today but I’m said that it’s over.”

The team honoured MacKay, Abbey and Chloe following the game with flowers and framed photos of their play. As the presentations were made and their career achievements recounted, all three fought back tears and received a standing ovation from the hometown crowd. Head coach Tom McManus spoke about their contributions following the game.

“How can you not miss them, they’re just three phenomenal ladies,” McManus said. “Blair has been such a standout defender for us forever, she’s solid constantly. Abbey’s got so much heart, she never gives up, even with a sore ankle she continues to work, won’t give up. Chloe, I ask her to get out on the wing, do this, do that and she says ‘Yep’ and goes out and does it.”

For the McAuley sisters, playing for the WolfPack has been a special experience. Few athletes have the opportunity to play on the same team as a sibling at the University level and Abbey spoke about what it has meant to share her five years on the WolfPack with Chloe.

“It was exciting to be able to share the last five years with my sister, but more importantly her first and last [years of eligibility],” said Abbey. “I got to see Chloe come in during her rookie year and leave as a veteran that girls look up to.

“We created memories that we probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to if we didn’t play soccer together at TRU. I also enjoyed seeing her grow as a player and a person living in Kamloops. It’s sad to have our eligibility over, but I’m so lucky to be finishing with Chloe.”

Though they’re done at Hillside for the year, the three veterans won’t be calling it a career yet. They will head to Squamish next weekend for the PACWEST Provincial Championships in hopes of defending the title they won in 2011-12. The WolfPack enters the tournament as the number one seed and will face the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Eagles, a team they defeated by scores of 4-1 and 3-0 this season. McManus spoke about finishing the season on top and his plans moving forward.

“To me it’s very crucial, that was my goal at the beginning of the year,” McManus said. “I’m proud of the girls, as far as I’m concerned they’re the champions right now, but we will be preparing ourselves properly to get ready to go to Squamish as well.”

For now, thoughts are focused on what is the end of an era for WolfPack soccer. With the departure of the McAuley sisters and MacKay in a few short weeks, the team will experience a changing of the guard this off-season, but has its sights set on a return to the National Championships before that happens. It would be the perfect way to cap off the careers of three of the WolfPack’s best, just as Sunday’s game capped off their careers at Hillside.

“It was very, very emotional for sure,” Chloe said, “but it was great.”

Updated at 4:11 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 by Taylor Rocca, Omega Copy/Web Editor.