LANGLEY, British Columbia – Coming off a CIS silver medal last year and a third straight appearance in the national championship match, the Trinity Western women’s soccer team has a fresh look and a new vibe, but, in the end, the same goal as every year: winning it all.
Coach Graham Roxburgh, who has guided TWU to five national titles and four in the last six years, leads the team into the 2015 season with eyes once again locked on the ultimate prize.
This season’s journey begins this weekend when the Spartans open their regular season schedule by hosting UBC Friday and Victoria Saturday. Both game kickoff at 5 p.m. and can be seen on www.canadawest.tv.
2015 SPARTANS SEASON PREVIEW
2014-15 CW Regular Season Record: 10-1-1
2014-15 CW Playoff Record: 3-0
2014-15 Overall Record: 13-1-1
Last CW Title/Total CW Titles: 2014/6
Last CIS Title/Total CIS Titles: 2013/5
Number of New Players: 10
Key Recruits: Quinn Hardstaff (D/Calgary/EP Scarlett HS), Jenaya Robertson (M/Delta, B.C./Delview SS), Rachel Hutchinson (F/Cloverdale, B.C./Clayton Heights), Nicole Bolder (F/Calgary/Bishop O’Brien HS)
Number of departing players: 8
Key Losses: Jennifer Castillo (D/5), Jenna Di Nunzio (M/5), Jessica King (F/5), Kristen Santema (D/5)
“I’m pretty excited about a new group that is young and energetic, with players who have great potential to come in and fill some key spots in our lineup,” said coach Graham Roxburgh. “Some of our inexperience may cause a few more bumps in the road, but overall, I love the group and it’s a really good group of girls to work with. In some ways, it’s the beginning of a new cycle, so there are a lot of questions to be asked and answered, but I’m optimistic that if we can work hard and overcome some hiccups along the way, we have a chance to be pretty formidable.”
- The Spartans will be aiming for their fourth consecutive trip to the CIS gold medal match. After capturing the national title in both 2012 and 2013, the Spartans returned to the championship game in 2014 in search of an unprecedented third straight title. In the end, TWU settled for silver after a 5-0 loss to Laval.
- TWU has won it all in four of the last seven seasons and despite losing several key starters from last year’s squad, the Spartans will once again be aiming to get back to the top. In Langley, the women’s soccer team’s ultimate on-field goal is always a national title and this year is no different.
- With the likes of CIS Player of the Year Jessica King and stalwart defender Jennifer Castillo now graduated and a bevy of other key veterans no longer with the team, this year’s group will have a distinctly younger flavour. While there is still plenty of talent on the roster, which will be led in large part by midfielder Vanessa Kovacs, the Spartans will need to quickly get their youngsters up to speed if they are to ensure early season success.
- Veteran goalie Ally Williamson, who transferred from UBC prior to the 2014 season, will be a key cog in this year’s squad and will certainly solidifies the defence. The two-time Canada West all-star and former CIS Second Team All-Canadian (2013) is one of the best keepers in the country and will be a pillar of strength for TWU.
- Last year, Jessica King had a 12 goals in the regular season and a CIS best seven game-winners. TWU will need to find a way to fill that void offensively this year. The Spartans have a number of option, however their best is likely Krista Gommeringer. If she is healthy, she has all the tools to return to her offensive form from 2012, when she scored 13 regular season goals.
- TWU has a reputation of strong rookies, with the likes of Nikki Wright, Alicia Tesan, Natalie Boyd, Krista Gommeringer and Seina Kashima dotting an impressive history. This year is like any other year, as Roxburgh has once again compiled a strong rookie class. Look for the likes of defender Quinn Hardstaff and midfielder Jenaya Robertson to play key roles on this year’s team.
If all three are healthy, the trio of Gommeringer, Kashima and Isabella Di Trocchio will be a formidable offensive force up front. Gommeringer, in 2012, and Kashima, in 2014, were both Canada West Rookies of the Year while Di Trocchio has certainly become a valuable offensive asset. Don’t be surprised if first-year Nicole Bolder also plays a role in TWU’s offence.
When Kovacs is on the field, the midfield is in good hands. She’ll likely be joined by fellow fifth-year Alessandra Oliverio and Robertson to form a very solid trio in the middle.
Amy Gartke, who had a fantastic rookie campaign, will be a stronghold on the back line and will once again team up with fourth-year Lindsay Pulice to form an impressive duo at the outside back positions. At centre-back, Stephanie Chin will look to help fill the void left by Jennifer Castillo and will likely be joined by first-year Quinn Hardstaff. Veterans Jolayne Whitmarsh and Vanessa Wiebe will also be in the mix for playing time.
After coming from UBC last year and sitting out her first year due to CIS transfer rules, Williamson is ready to take over TWU’s starting goaltending duties. Christina Oliverio, who was TWU’s starter last year, and Rachel Sydor will battle for the back-up role.