Reveling in a repeat

Adam Williams, Sports Editor  Ω

A year ago Alanna Bekkering was celebrating being named PACWEST playoff MVP and scoring an overtime goal that secured a provincial championship for the WolfPack women’s soccer team — this year she celebrates the same accolades.

Bekkering was the lone goal scorer in her team’s 1-0 victory versus the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat Oct. 27 in the PACWEST championship final in Squamish, B.C.

“I thought for sure that we were going to score another one, I didn’t think that it was going to end 1-0,” Bekkering said. “It’s really nice, it’s always an honour to get those goals and keep the team motivated with that one goal. We did come out very hard in the first half and we were playing very well, but I know that after we were up 1-0 our motivation just got stronger and we pushed even harder to keep that lead.”

The WolfPack took an unorthodox route to the final, initially falling behind 2-0 to the Langara College Falcons in Oct. 26’s semi-final match. The ‘Pack battled back in the second half to secure a 5-2 victory and a berth in the final.

“We totally dominated the game actually, it’s the best we’ve actually played all year as far as possession goes but we just weren’t finishing,” said head coach Tom McManus. “I walked into the dressing room [at halftime] and stayed calm and said, ‘We’re not going to lose so don’t worry about it, continue to do what you’re doing and we’ll come through.’ So we tied the game up 2-2 and in overtime we scored the three goals to make it 5-2.”

Bekkering wrapped up another outstanding PACWEST season with the close of championship weekend, one in which she was awarded the PACWEST Player of the Year title, her second playoff MVP title, the top striker title, her second-consecutive first-team all-star honours and managed to score the game-winning goal in the championship final for the second year in a row.

“She had a phenomenal weekend, she’s just a joy to behold and a true team player,” McManus said. “I asked her if she would do runs to pull the defenders away and she constantly did it and created space for her teammates who were scoring the goals. It was great to see such maturity in a player.”

Bekkering, who has one year of eligibility left with the team, will return next year and be named one of the team captains according to McManus.

Bekkering has always prided herself on her leadership abilities and spoke at length of how humbling it has been to receive so many honours.

For some, it would be hard to find continued motivation to play after winning almost every personal award available, but not for Bekkering.

“[Blair MacKay and I have] known each other since kindergarten and played soccer together since we were 10,” Bekkering said. “Knowing that it’s her last year, I kind of want to do it for her and go out with a bang for her. Not only that but I just know that this team has such a strong potential to win the national title.”

The WolfPack will now move on to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championships in Charlottetown, P.E.I. Nov. 7 to 10. This will be the ‘Pack’s second-consecutive appearance at nationals and they will be looking to improve on their fourth place finish from 2011.

“The big thing I said to the girls the other day,” McManus said, “I said, ‘You remember what it was like when we won provincials last year?’ And everyone said, ‘Yeah, we were playing so great,’ and I said, ‘Now what happened when we got to nationals and we went to Quebec City?’ And it was kind of silent and I said, ‘Exactly’. I said, ‘You went in there, happy you were in Quebec City, but you forgot the reason you were there was to win the games and this year we’re going there to win the games.’”

Bekkering echoed McManus’s thoughts on the 2011 nationals and said her team focused too much on the experience – sightseeing, shopping – and not the soccer games ahead of them. This year the focus is on placing in the top three at the very least, but more optimistically coming home with a gold medal around their necks.

“I’m just so excited. I want everyone to see and know that TRU women’s soccer is a tough team to beat and to watch out for us because this is the strongest team I’ve ever played with.”