Kamloops, BC—The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s soccer program learned in their first year of Canada West play that they would need a lot of offense. Head coach Tom McManus is hoping that he has improved in that area with the announcement of his fifth recruit for the 2015-16 season.
The WolfPack and McManus are pleased to announce that Marisa Mendonca (pronounced: Mar-ree-sha Men-don-ca) of Penticton, BC has signed a CIS letter of intent. She will join the program in August and will be taking courses aimed at Bachelor of Science at Thompson Rivers.
Mendonca plays for the Penticton Pinnacles U-18 and U-21 sides and is an attacking midfielder.
“I was looking at UBCO in Kelowna but I chose Thompson Rivers because of the soccer program and schooling,’ the 5’3” Mendonca says. “I actually took a campus visit in Grade 10 and enjoyed what I saw.
“My strengths are shooting, running with the ball and beating defenders,” says Mendonca. “I am able to play the ball through the middle to an attacking player, playing the ball or moving it up the field.”
She has seen Canada West play before—ironically in a game last year between TRU and UBCO in Kelowna last fall. “I liked how fast and competitive the level of play was. It is something I have wanted to do for a while.”
Mendonca believes she will have to have a tighter touch on the ball, have quick feet and be able to pass along with receive the ball quicker when she moves to CIS.
Her father Carlos has coached her from U-5 to this current year. In spite of the blood lines, he gives this assessment of his daughter/player. “I have been blessed coaching this group of girls including Marisa for a number of years. We have been able to challenge them and play a possession type of football game. They are confident with the ball on their feet. She likes to be the center of attention, being able to play the ball and move it to the next level. Playing high tempo football will be a benefit for her with the older girls providing an example to her. She will have to get adjusted to the physicality of the CIS but should do well.”
Carlos believes it was three years ago when Marica decided that soccer was to be ‘her sport of choice’. “She got the chance to travel with her younger brother’s team who went to Madrid for a youth camp and playing some exhibitions. Two or three girls got a chance to go and play. They had a great experience. They came back and I noticed a difference. They were more serious and had fire in their eyes. From that point on, Marisa wasn’t interested in playing volleyball or basketball any more: it was all soccer. That experience ignited them. The desire she has is feeding others on her rep team.”
Two of the WolfPack’s current and former keepers—Travis Froehlich (Revelstoke, BC) and Emily Edmundson (Kamloops, BC) have worked and played in Penticton the last two summers and had some contact with Mendonca. While she said she has watched and spoken briefly with both of them, they didn’t have an influence on her decision aside from saying it was a great place to play and go to school.
McManus recalls when he first saw Marisa. “I went on a recruiting trip to Penticton and did a training session with an Academy squad down there. She had emailed me prior to it. She was a stand out in the session. She is a smart, strong player who has a great shot. She leads by example and encourages her team. We will have to wait for training camp but I will be looking for her to be an attacking midfielder. She is a good goal scorer as well. “
Mendoca is looking forward to being in a ‘media spotlight’ in Kamloops with the program avidly followed by five radio and one television station, one newspaper and two on-line publications.
As far as the TRU community service program is concerned, she has a head start on some of her fellow first year players. Mendonca is already helping coach in the South Okanagan Youth Soccer Association. “In Penticton, we have a program in place where young players get a chance to work with older ones and aspire to move to their level. Having little kids look up to you is a great honor. “
Mendonca knows the feeling first hand: “When I was growing up, I looked up to Jana Yates. When I was 10 years old she used to coach me. She was playing U-21 and went to the U.S. to play. Now I am getting a chance to play with her this summer. It is really cool that I get to play with my role model.”
Moving from home to go to university is a big step in any young person’s life-when you throw in high level athletics into the mix, it could be even more difficult. Mendonca is looking for support from new teammates to help her deal with the increased practices, games, travel and schooling. “As long as I keep focused I should be OK. There seems to be a lot of good connections here. The players seem friendly and I know there are tutors if I get stuck.”
The WolfPack begin training for the 2015-16 Canada West season in early August.
Mendonca joins fellow recruits: Nikki Manwaring (17, 5’3″ Striker, Kamloops, BC/Valleyview Secondary), Deanna Brady (17, 5’5″ keeper, Richmond, BC/McRoberts Secondary), Brittany McDonald (17, 5’5, midfielder, Kamloops, BC/St. Ann’s Academy), and Taylor Shantz (22, 5’11”, keeper, Kamloops, BC/Norkam Secondary-Quest University Canada (PACWEST).
THROW INS: Carlos Mendonca on not being able to coach Marisa starting in August. “I will be her biggest cheerleader for sure. I am excited for my daughter. She has worked hard. Her education is important to her and she is probably more proud of that than anything else. She has worked hard at getting what she is receiving right now. I am going to miss her and the other young ladies that I have coached the past eight to 10 years.”
He feels Marisa will quickly adjust to the WolfPack’s “possession first” philosophy: “It is what I preach with my team. Our philosophy is “let’s hold the ball.” I tell the girls that if they can run 20 miles with the ball and not get tired. But if you’re chasing the ball, you can run 10 miles and get exhausted. If you make the ball work for you, you are way ahead. It is something she has been exposed to since U-13. “
Mendonca’s U-18 team has gone twice to provincials and will host the BC Championships this July.