TWU out to defend women’s soccer CIS & CW championships


September 4, 2013, EDMONTON – The 2013 Canada West women’s soccer season opens this weekend, with games on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. Last season it was the Trinity Western Spartans claiming both the Canada West and CIS national banners, winning all but one game all season.  Here is a look at the 13 conference women’s soccer teams…


2012 conference record: 7-2-3 (6th)

2012 playoffs: 0-1

Last CW title: 2001

Last CIS title: 2001

CIS ranking: N/A

CW ranking: #4

Key additions: Julia Ignacio (S), Jaala Derochie (D), Kristen Livingstone (S), Sydney Ashton (M), Laura Kautz (M)

Key returnees: Kelti Biggs (GK), Victoria Saccamoni (D), Shalla Kadima (D), Annalise Schellenberg (D)

Key departures: Elise Emmott (M), Carleigh Miller (M)

The University of Alberta Pandas soccer team should once again be in the mix for the Canada West playoffs as they return a number of key starters, while supplementing with a strong group of recruits. The 2012 Pandas finished sixth in Canada West, thanks to a 7-2-3 record, and while they lose a few key members from that squad, they return to the pitch in 2013 with another strong team.

Ninth-year head coach Liz Jepsen brings back a pair of conference all-star defenders in Victoria Saccamoni and Shalla Kadima, while fourth-year goalie Kelti Biggs also returns. Former NCAA player Katie Wilkinson should bolster the defence, as will returners Fallon Dickie, Annalise Schellenberg and Rebecca Brandt.

The midfield, however, is a different story as both Elise Emmott and Carleigh Miller, Canada West all-stars last season, are gone. In fact, the entire Pandas midfield could be filled with new faces as Terri Kutryk and Brogan Buchanan are the only returning members. Joining the midfield brigade is college transfer Laura Kautz, as well as freshmen Sydney Ashton, Jamie Pasemko and Alison Ferguson. Kautz, who hails from Edmonton, comes to the Pandas after two years at NAIT in the ACAC. She won a pair of CCAA national championship silver medals (2010 and 2011), and was a CCAA national championship all-star (2011), while Pasemko was with the Prairie National Team Training Centre in both 2011 and 2012.

Up front, former NCAA player Julia Ignacio will pace Alberta’s offence after playing 42 games, including 26 starts for the University of Memphis. She’ll be joined by rookie Kristen Livingstone, college transfer Paula Dadensky, returning striker Jesse Candlish and fifth-year Briony Buchanan.

Four members of the current Pandas’ squad worked together this summer with Canada’s team at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Russia. Jepsen was Canada’s head coach, while Ignacio and Saccamoni played for Canada, and video coach Krista Gavin worked behind the scenes.

The Pandas open their 2013 season at home when they take on the Lethbridge Pronghorns on September 7 (12:00 pm), and then the Calgary Dinos on September 8 (2:00 pm).


2012 conference record: 8-2-2 (3rd)

2012 playoffs: 1-1

Last CW title: 2007

Last CIS title: 2006

CIS ranking: #10

CW ranking: #3

Key additions: Aman Shergill (D); Jasmine Dhanda (F)

Key returnees: Ally Williamson (GK); Jordan Kitagawa (D), Alisha Penev (D); Janine Frazao (F), Rachel Sawer (F), Taryn Lim (F)

Key departures: Leah Peric (G); Kelly Cook (D); Rachel Ramsden (M)

VANCOUVER – One of Canada’s greatest soccer players ever, Andrea Neil, has returned to her alma mater to lead the UBC Thunderbirds women’s program.

She takes over a talented squad that finished 8-2-2 in regular season play before taking home the Canada West bronze medal in the playoffs.

UBC lost captain and defensive leader Kelly Cook to graduation but return three other Canada West all-stars including Alisha Penev, who will anchor the back line with Jordan Kitagawa.

Rachael Sawer was the Thunderbirds’ all-star in the midfield, which will also include Christina Donnelly and third-year veteran Taylor Shannik, who scored five goals last year.

Up front, UBC will have two-time Canada West Most Valuable Player Janine Frazao as the focal point of a dangerous attack. But Neil is also looking for contributions from the entire squad in 2013.

Former Canada West Rookie of the Year Alyssa Williamson is the incumbent in net while Emily Wilson and new recruit Marlee Maracle have both seen significant playing time in the preseason.

In addition to Maracle, the recruiting class for this season also includes three players fresh off helping the Vancouver Whitecaps to a World Youth Cup title. Aman Shergill will suit up along the defensive line for the ‘Birds this year, while Jasmine Dhanda, who was the 2012 BC Youth Player of the Year, joins the vaunted attacking group. Jasmine Mander, a midfielder with provincial and national team experience, was the third member of that group, but she is lost for the upcoming season with a torn ACL.


2012 conference record: 3-6-3 (9th, missed playoffs)

Last CW title: 2005

Last CIS title: 1998

CIS Ranking: N/A

CW Ranking: #8

Key additions: D Sarah Deklerk, F Kira Lee, D Jordan Smith

Key returnees: M Andrea Stinson, F Tessa Miller

CALGARY – With a new coach at the helm for the 2013 season, the University of Calgary Dinos women’s soccer team will revamp their roster, and their style of play in hope of making an impact in the league this year.

Last season, the Dinos finished with a 3-6-3 record and missed the Canada West playoffs when they finished ninth, just one spot out of post-season contention. Newly appointed head coach Troye Flannery wants to change that.

Calgary returns the likes of central midfielder Andrea Stinson and forward Tessa Miller. Both players will be looked upon by the Dinos to take the reigns with such a young team. While Stinson returns for just her second season with Calgary, Miller comes back after a year off for her fifth and final year of eligibility hoping to be a threat in the attacking third all season.

Another player hoping to make an impact on the roster this season will be Sarah Deklerk. A transfer from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, the NCAA star possesses a high degree of game awareness and game intelligence, as well as leadership that should help the Dinos on and off the field this season.

Kira Lee from Okanagan FC and Jordan Smith, an Olympic luger, will also be important additions to the 2013 women’s soccer team.

Calgary opens up their season with games on the road, the first against cross-town rivals the Mount Royal Cougars on Sept. 7, and then they will head to Edmonton Sept. 8 to take on the Alberta Pandas.


2012 conference record: 6-5-1 (7th)

2012 playoffs: 0-1

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS Ranking: N/A

CW Ranking: #7

Key additions: Carley Radomski (Midfield), Jade Palm (Defender), Emily Harold (Goalkeeper)

Key departures: Chantelle Biagioni (Goalkeeper), Donna Pining (Defence)

ABBOTSFORD, BC – The Fraser Valley Cascades are coming off their second Canada West post-season appearance in three years and, as they prepare for their eighth regular season in the CIS, head coach Rob Giesbrecht is excited about the strong group of returning veterans and his rookie class led by  midfielder Carley Radomski.

There will be new faces in key positions. With the graduation of fifth year veteran Chantelle Biagioni, who led UFV to the 2010 Canada West title and CIS bronze medal, second-year goalkeeper Kayla Klim inherits the Cascades net. Klim played this past summer for the W-League’s Dayton Dutch Lions gaining valuable experience playing against some of the top stars from both the NCAA and CIS in the USL.

Fourth-year striker Carly Neeson came into her own last year scoring four goals and being named “Cascades Player of the Match” six times. Coach Rob Giesbrecht, entering his fourth year at UFV, will count heavily on Neeson and fifth year veteran Danika Snook for leadership. Snook is also a member of the 2010 Canada West title winning team. Radomski, comes to UFV from Walnut Grove Secondary, the same school that has produced the Cascades current midfielder Macki Shopland. The midfielder also played for the Vancouver Whitecaps Girls Elite Program, where she has been a member the past two seasons. Coach Giesbrecht looks to these two players for leadership in the midfield.

The Cascades defence is led by Sam Temple, a third year veteran. UFV welcomes a transfer Jade Palm, from Langara College (PACWEST-CCAA).

The Fraser Valley Cascades will open up season against the UNBC Timberwolves on Friday, September 6th at Exhibition Field, in Chilliwack, B.C.


2012 conference record: 1-9-2 (11th, missed playoffs)

Last CW Title: N/A

Last CIS Title: N/A

CIS ranking: N/A

CW ranking: #11

Key additions: Meaghan Welby (F), Myriah Marino (GK), Jesse Dueck (D), Alycia Amatto (F)

Key returnees: Shannon Clark (D), Keagan Moch (M), Emily Felker (M), Step Groten (M), Kim Shellenberg (D)

Key departure: Taura Willoughby (GK)

LETHBRIDGE, AB – Following a season of growing pains with one of the youngest teams in the conference, the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns hope those struggles have paid dividends and the 2013 season with begin the ascension up the Canada West standings.

After introducing 10 new faces at the start of last season, the ’Horns return 17 players this season and have added depth to all positions, adding eight fresh faces to the fold.

With only seven goals scored last season, they ranked near the bottom of the conference in scoring. Emily Felker and Kim Shellenberg accounted for more than half of the teams goals last season but the addition of strikers Meaghan Welby and Alycia Amatto will be keys to the ‘Horns offensive attack.

The loss of veteran goalkeeper Taura Willoughby will be tough to replace in net, but head coach Ilsa Wong believes that the depth of the position has never been better with three athletes vying for playing time. Taylor Thomas returns for her third year and saw action in three games. Freshmen Myriah Marino and Micaela Stone have impressed during training camp.

Through the middle of the field and on the backline they will be experienced and deep. Veteran leaders Shannon Clark, Keagan Moch, Stephanie Groten and Shellenberg will be keys to shoring up the defensive game and getting the ball up to the ‘Horns new stable of strikers.

The Pronghorns open the season on the road with a pair of games, traveling to Edmonton to face the always tough Alberta Pandas and conclude the opening weekend with a match-up with the Mount Royal Cougars.


2012 conference record: 4-7-1 (8th)

2012 playoffs: 0-1

Last CW Title: N/A

Last CIS Title: N/A

CIS ranking: N/A

CW ranking: #9

Key returnees:  Chloe Werle, Sarah Haiko, Daniella Scerbo, Selina Speranza, Alyssa, Robinson, Gillian Sidon

Key additions: Cassandra Bruce, Emma Maclennan, Cheyenne Slonowski

Key departures: Alison Kastner, Julie Lafreniere, Rhoni Mackenzie

WINNIPEG – In 2012, the Manitoba Bisons earned a playoff spot for the first time since 2008 and only third post-season in their first eight seasons of Canada West play.

Off the field, the team had a change at head coach as they begin a season with a third different coach at the helm in successive years. Vanessa Martinez Lagunas becomes the fourth coach in the program’s nine year CIS history and the Toluca, Mexico native brings an extensive soccer background as a player, sports scientist and coach.

With the shift at the top, Martinez Lagunas wants the team to ‘be able to master a new playing style and new Bison playing with offensive, attractive soccer.’ She has three goals for the team for the 2013 campaign. “Soccer effectiveness through tactical activity, the second is immediate ball recovery through excellent defensive organization and rapid transition from offence to defence and vice versa.” She feels these goals will propel the team to gain more self-confident throughout the season.

Last season, Manitoba scored 20 goals in 12 conference regular season games and lost to graduation the top team scorer Alison Kastner but look to other veterans to fill the back of the net this season. Returning Bisons are sophomore forwards Daniella Scerbo and Selina Speranza (both tied for second in team scoring in 2012) along with new captains fourth year defender Sarah Haiko and fourth year starting goaltender Chloe Werle.

There are 24 Bisons players in this year’s edition with eight freshmen and eight sophomores on a fairly young team while there is only one fifth year in the mix (defender Gillian Sidon).


2012 conference record: 1-7-4 (10th, missed playoffs)

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS Ranking: N/A

CW Ranking: #10

Key additions: MF Navroop Virk, MF Christine Jenkins, CB Kennedy Paonessa

Key departures: MF Janelle Carbert, MF Kimberley Silcox

CALGARY – Last season Mount Royal learned first-hand how tough competition in Canada West can be. After making the jump from the ACAC a year ago the Cougars had a tough season, winning only one game. This year they are poised to move up the Canada West standings and potentially challenge for a playoff spot.

To make the playoffs the Cougars will need some more offence and they hoped to have found it top recruits Navroop Virk and Christine Jenkins. Virk and Jenkins will look to play a big supporting role in an offence that only scored nine goals last season.

Starting in a new league, especially a league as deep as Canada West, was bound to have growing pains and as Head Coach Tino Fusco reiterates, “The players have asked for more from the program after our inaugural season in CW and we are looking to get started to see how our preparations have prepared us for season two.”

Eight of the thirteen Canada West teams make the playoffs, so the Cougars have a very realistic shot at post season play.  If they can grind out some draws and make certain they can defeat the teams below them in the standings, there is a good chance Mount Royal will earn their first post season berth.

The Cougars open their season On Saturday, Sept. 7 when they host the Calgary Dinos at MR Field.


2012 conference record: 0-9-3 (13th, missed playoffs)

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

2012 CIS Ranking: N/A

2012 CW Ranking: #13

Key additions: M Tianna Pius, D Fiona Raymond, M Jessica Erickson

Key departures: M Rebecca Irving

Key returnees: F Sidney Roy, GK Jordan Hall, F Sydney Wilson, D Sydney Hall, D Tanya Grob, D Georgia Lahti

PRINCE GEORGE, BC – The 2013 season will mark the Timberwolves’ second year in Canada Wes and the young UNBC squad will be looking to improve under head coach Andy Cameron, who is entering his second year at the helm.

The Timberwolves graduated only one player from last season, Rebecca Irving, who finished four years with the Timberwolves before graduating.

With only one key departure the Timberwolves return the bulk of their starting lineup including striker Sidney Roy, forward Sydney Wilson and defensive players Tanya Grob and Georgia Lahti. Also returning for the 2013 season is third year keeper Jordan Hall and twin sister Sydney Hall. Sydney Hall formerly a defensive player for the Timberwolves has made the move to striker and has been instrumental in the Timberwolves two preseason wins, scoring five goals in two games.

Head coach Andy Cameron has added five local players to his roster in addition to a few out of town athletes. Out of the five local rookies three will be present in the Timberwolves starting line-up. Midfield Tianna Pius, defense Fiona Raymond, and midfield Jessica Erickson, who will make an instant contribution to the Timberwolves.

The Timberwolves start their Canada West campaign with a trip to the lower mainland to play Fraser Valley on Friday Sept. 6. On Saturday the team will take on the Victoria Vikes on the road.


2012 conference record: 8-3-1 (4th)

2012 playoffs: 1-2 (CW 4th)

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS Ranking: N/A

CW Ranking: 5th

Key returnees: Meagan Cormier, Molly Glass, Stephanie Possberg, Tayler Firth

Key additions: Cassidy Andres, Shayla Kapila, Ivana Mustapic

Key departures: Sarah Novak, Kelsey Abstreiter

REGINA – Coming off its best season in program history, the University of Regina’s women’s soccer team was slotted fifth in the conference preseason poll this week.

Leading the U of R’s crop of returning players is fifth-year forward Meagan Cormier, who was a Canada West all-star last season and represented Canada at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia. Cormier is already the school’s all-time leader in assists and needs just five goals to become the U of R’s career scoring leader. Fourth-year players Tayler Firth and Molly Glass also return after combining for five goals last season.

The Cougars return both Stephanie Possberg and Kacey McFee between the pipes. Possberg had spectacular numbers last season, going 7-2-0 in nine starts and posting a sparkling 0.67 goals-against average.

Reigning Canada West Coach of the Year Bob Maltman says he’s happy with all seven of the team’s newcomers this season, but tabbed forward Cassidy Andres (Swift Current Comprehensive) and midfielders Shayla Kapila (Regina / Campbell Collegiate) and Ivana Mustapic (Calgary, / Bishop Carroll HS) as three that might make immediate impacts on the pitch for the Cougars.

The Cougars begin the Canada West schedule this weekend on the road against Winnipeg (Friday) and Manitoba (Saturday).


2012 conference record: 8-4-0 (5th)

2012 playoff record: 0-1

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS Ranking: N/A

CW Ranking: #6

Key returnees: Daniela Fuenzalida, Leanne Mylymok, Jenelle Zapski, Erica Hindmarsh

Key additions: Kayleigh Vause, Cara Santaga, Jennifer Miller, Jessica Bradford

Key departures: Lindsay Manz, Marissa Struik

SASKATOON – After a earning a spot in the Canada West post-season for the first time in history, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies look to take the next step to the conference final tournament.

Equipped with the playoff experience and a core roster returning, the Huskies feel a run at the Canada West Final Four is within reach.

Saskatchewan returns leading scorers Jenelle Zapski and Erica Hindmarsh to the roster. The second-year strikers made an impact in their first CIS season combining for 17 points including eight goals from Zapski. Dynamic midfielders and captains Daniela Fuenzalida and Leanne Mylymok also return to the team. The pair of fifth-years also contributed to scoring last year with Fuenzalida recording two goals and five assists and Mylymok two goals and four assists.

The biggest change for Huskies will be in net. Rookie Kyleigh Vause and CIS-transfer Cara Santaga will compete for the starts. Santaga won two Canada West championships and one CIS title with the Trinity Western University Spartans.

Also joining the Huskies for 2013 is Jennifer Miller, Jessica Bradford, Rebecca Weckworth and Jessica Morrow. All four were members of the U-18 Eastside Vortex, who won the Canadian National Club championship.

The Huskies open the Canada West season on the road against the Manitoba Bisons on Sept. 6 and return home on Sept. 14 to face the Regina Cougars at Griffiths Stadium in PotashCorp Park.


2012 conference record: 11-1-0 (1st)

2012 playoffs: 6-0 (CW & CIS champions)

Last CW title: 2012

Last CIS title: 2012

CIS Ranking: #1

CW Ranking: #1

Key additions: G Rachel Bedek, F Megan Theroux, M Madison Higginbotham

Key departures: G Kristen Funk, D Jilian Dietrich, D Nikki Byrne, M Tessa Meyer

LANGLEY, BC – For the third time in the last five years, the Trinity Western women’s soccer team will enter the regular season as the defending CIS champions. And, after winning back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009, coach Graham Roxburgh’s side will look to duplicate that effort in 2013.

However, having lost two of its four starters along the back line, including conference all-star Nikki Byrne and Jilian Dietrich, plus CIS First Team All-Canadian goalie Kristen Funk and midfielder Tessa Meyer, who was the 2009 CIS championships MVP, the Spartans have their work cut out for them if they are to repeat.

Fortunately for TWU, of the 14 players who played in last year’s CIS gold medal match, 11 are back in the fold.

Up front, the Spartans will once again be led by last year’s Canada West top scorer and CIS First Team All-Canadian Krista Gommeringer. The Calgarian had 22 points in 12 games last year and will look to take yet another step forward in her second year at the CIS level. Beyond Gommeringer, TWU will be buoyed by the return of Sarah-Kim Bergeron, who missed all of last year with a knee injury, along with the ever-steady fifth-year Alicia Tesan, who, at times as a midfielder, led the conference with 10 assists.

With fourth-year Jessica King on a strong developmental trajectory and fourth-year Jenna Di Nunzio, who can also play the midfield, expected to return from injury early in the season, the Spartans have plenty of goal-scoring options.

In the middle, fifth-year Natalie Boyd will need to once again be one’s of the team’s most vocal leaders. Along with Boyd, look for Vanessa Kovacs to both generate and defend in the middle. Now in her third year, Kovacs will be relied upon to take her game to another level. Outside of Boyd and Kovacs, the Spartans midfield will be a mix of fifth-year Caitlin Haines, third-year Alessandra Oliverio and fourth-year Sarah Hannigan.

Then there’s the back line. The Spartans defending unit might be both its most solidly defined and, at the same time, its biggest question mark.

At centre back, First Team All-Canadian Colleen Webber, who enters her fifth year, and Canada West First Team All-Star Jennifer Castillo, who is in her fourth year, are back. That duo is as impressive as the come in the country. The question marks remain on the outside where Byrne and Dietrich left vacant positions. Second-year Stephanie Chin will likely take up one spot while the other position will see fifth-year Nikki Wright, who is returning from a knee injury that kept her out all last year, and second-year Lindsey Pulice.

In goal, the job to replace Funk will fall to either fifth-year transfer from Carlton Rachel Bedek or fifth-year Bailey Williams-Kapels. The pair have battled for the right to the starting position since training camp opened.


2012 conference record: 9-2-1 (2nd)

2012 playoff record: 4-2 (CW 2nd, CIS 3rd)

Last CW title: 2008

Last CIS title: 2005

CIS Ranking: #3

CW Ranking: #2

Key returnees: M Jaclyn Sawicki, M Jackie Harrison, D Brigitte Greig, F Emma Greig, GK Tanya Jones, F Lindsay Hoetzel

Key additions: M Natasha Magnus, D Elise Butler, GK Austin Studer, GK Lauren Askew

Key departures: D Tessa Margetts, GK Stephanie Parker, M Nathalie Scharf, M Janelle Smith, D Carsen Machin

VICTORIAThe University of Victoria Vikes will have a different core after seeing the graduation of five players from the 2012 CIS bronze-medal winning team including veteran keeper Stephanie Parker. A new wave of players will shape the 2013 squad that will be run by head coach Tracy David, who enters her 12th season with the Vikes.

The biggest turnover will be between the pipes, where senior goalkeeper Tanya Jones will assume the starting role after training with Parker for four seasons. Canadian Under-21 team member Jaclyn Sawicki will return as the spark for the midfield line and in combination with central midfielder Jackie Harrison, will likely be the main catalysts for attack. Both Sawicki, Harrison and Brigitte Greig were named to the 2012 Canada West All-Star list.

Up front the Vikes will look to 2012 Canada West leading goal scorer Emma Greig, who will suit up for her third season. The striker notched 14 goals in 12 games for the Vikes last season and David will be looking to combine the talents of Emma Greig and fifth-year Lindsay Hoetzel on the forward line.

With the turnover, David will enjoy a fresh-faced recruiting class that is highlighted by rookie keeper Austin Studer, who offers a healthy height of five-foot-eleven. In addition David has been impressed in the pre-season with local product Elise Butler, who joins the defensive unit, as well as Natasha Magnus, a midfielder hailing from the Whitecaps FC program.


2012 conference record: 1-10-1 (12th, missed playoffs)

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CIS ranking: N/A

CW ranking: #12

Key returnees: Stephanee Ophey (D), Andrea Angioli (M), Sheri Hince (M), Serafina Trunzo (M), Kayla Jacobsen (D/M)

Key additions: Margot Henry (G), Danielle Comeau (M), Samantha Halvorsen (S), Carly Lomonaco (M), Rachel Dunsmore (M)

WINNIPEG – Head coach Mick Gale and the Wesmen Women’s Soccer team has bigger things planned for this season.Winnipeg struggled last year finishing with a record of 1-10-1 but Gale has assembled a team that will look to improve on that this season.

Defender Stephanee Ophey will be a main factor playing in the defender position. Ophey, entering her fourth season of eligibility provides leadership and skill to the team. Fifth year midfielder Sheri Hince who led the team in shots on goal last season, along with fourth year players Kayla Jacobsen and Serafina Trunzo will look to add both experience and offense to the team. Second year midfielder Andrea Angioli and third year player Gina Malenki both have a season of CIS level soccer under their belt and will look to improve from last year’s showing.

First year goalkeeper Margot Henry will look to add stability in net for the Wesmen this season. Last year the team used five players in net during the season due to injuries. Along with Henry, Danielle Comeau, Samantha Halvorsen, Carly Lomonaco and Rachel Dunsmore will all be looking to make an instant impression in their first season of CIS level soccer.

Christian J. Stewart
Christian is a professional photographer and media professional based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Currently working as the Assistant General Manager for Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Club, a Senior Contributing Editor and photographer at Independent Sports News (ISN) and operating his own freelance photography and media/pr company.