(L-R) Chris Hansen, Sasha Sirianni, Emerson Hansen, Keenan Degen, Hanna Marra, Brenna Worsfold, Delaney Collins, Cassie Morris, Kelly Shantz (WolfPack head coach)
There is no doubt that the chemistry these girls have being together for so long will give them a bit of an advantage
Kamloops, BC—The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s soccer program has had a rich tradition of cultivating the local minor soccer program. That tradition will continue as the team prepares for its 2016-17 Canada West season.
New head coach Kelly Shantz, a former Kamloops Youth Soccer coach and director himself, has signed seven of the top players currently playing for the KYSA U-17/U-18 “A” team.
Shantz and the WolfPack are pleased to announce the commitment of Brenna Worsfold of Sa-hali Secondary, Cassie Morris of NorKam Secondary, Westsyde Secondary’s Emerson Hansen, Delaney Collins of Valleyview Secondary and Sasha Sirianni of St. Ann’s Academy. Two other members of that KYSA squad: Hanna Marra and Keenan Degen of both Valleyview Secondary committed last year to the TRU program.
“This is definitely unique but not an unheard of situation,” says Shantz. “It goes a long way in showing the commitment these girls have had to each other over the years and their KYSA coaches who have given them a quality environment to play in. There have been a few very good grad classes of girls from KYSA over the years that have contributed multiple players to post-secondary soccer.”
Shantz knows from what he speaks. His 1993 girls’ class went through KYSA and many went onto play at the University level. Last year’s WolfPack team had eight players on the overall roster from the team he had coached and graduated five years ago. “It’s a happy coincidence this class exists to step into their shoes.”
The six newest WolfPack recruits have been coached throughout their rep years by David Lloyd and Chris Hansen. Hansen is a former Cariboo College player (1984-85). “This is fantastic,” he says. “It is going to make it easy for them not only to adjust to life as a university student but they come onto a team where they know girls. They are a talented group of girls and have been dedicated to their sport and the time and effort it takes to be successful.”
And successful they have been. Under Hansen and Lloyd, they have captured two provincial championships (2012 and 2014). Hansen says they knew the group was special in 2011 when each coached a KYSA Rep team. “They were the top two teams in the interior. Dave took his team to the BC “B” Cup and they lost in a shootout and they beat us in a shoot out to get there. Then we took the core of the girls to their first tournament and performed from the get go.”
Hanson says the seven players will bring something to the WolfPack that has been in short supply of the past few years: drive. “Every time we go into big games they are all driven to win it and perform at the highest level. They bring in a ‘winning culture’. When they come to this team they will step up and help the other girls.”
“This is extremely exciting,” says Marra about having the opportunity to play with her longtime minor soccer teammates at the CIS level. “We’ve helped each other out so much in the past. I am super excited about this. I think we can transfer the chemistry and success we’ve had at that level to Canada West.”
“We have already gone through that ‘awkward, not knowing how each other plays’ phase,” stated Degen. “We have good chemistry out there.”
“There is no doubt that the chemistry these girls have being together for so long will give them a bit of an advantage in working together,” explains Shantz. “But that is also a huge advantage for the whole team. We will be very young this year, so having some instant chemistry has got to help. As a group, their challenge will be to reach out to the rest of the team and work into the overall atmosphere beyond their peer group. I am not overly worried about that though.”
He added: “Our goal is to compete at the highest level of CIS soccer and we know to do that we will have to recruit many players from beyond Kamloops, and our beautiful campus and top-class facilities will give us the opportunity to do so, but it’s really nice to have as strong core of players coming in this year from here on our home turf. They will all have a lot of learning to do but I think this group is up to it and will always have the luxury of “each other” to lean on.”
THROW INS: Here are the assessments of the players from both their current and future coaches.
DELANEY COLLINS: Hansen: She is a consistent performer. Very versatile on the outside of the park. She played on the back line and midfield and is strong. She is important when it comes to setting up goals. She is strong both offensively and defensively. Shantz – I don’t know a lot about Delaney beyond the glowing recommendations from her past coaches and other contacts I know. She is coming off a pretty serious injury and surgery and has been given the green light to get back training so we will see how things evolve for her. Delaney knows she will have every chance to show what she is capable of.
EMERSON HANSEN: Hansen: Tons of skills. She is a set play specialist. When she gets going offensively, she is very tough to stop. Shantz – Emerson’s versatility will be a big addition for us. Capable of playing in the middle of the field or wide and equally adept with both feet, Emerson is a smart player who should adapt quickly to the new level and find her place on the field.
CASSIE MORRIS: Hansen: Cassie is calm and very hard to beat on the backline. She can step up into the midfield. She can attack. She is so calm on the ball. She does not panic on the ball. Shantz – I learn more about Cassie every time I watch her play. Calm on the ball and in traffic she is not flashy but very efficient and effective with the ball. Another versatile talent she can play in the center of the backline or midfield and I have watched get forward frequently to score goals and be a force going forward. Cassie has huge potential and will be vying for a starting role this year…
KEENAN DEGEN; Hansen: Keenan is a grinder in the middle. Ball winner. She distributes the ball well too. Doesn’t score a lot but chips in a lot with important assists. Shantz- a crafty and hardworking central midfielder i look forward to seeing how Keenen adapts to the size and speed of CIS soccer. Keenen distributes the ball very well and I have no doubt she will compete and learn quickly, but like goaltending, playing in the middle of the field at the CIS level is a big step.
HANNA MARRA; Hansen: She is all about speed, power and aggression. She is physical when she needs to be. She is a big game player. She scores the important goals and leads by example that way. Shantz – Hannah is big forward with good speed who is relentless in her pursuit of the play and getting to the net. I think she will give a lot of defenders trouble dealing with her size and movement but will need to refine her touch and decision making to be a force in the league, but she has the potential.
BRENNA WORSFOLD: Hansen: For us she doesn’t get a lot of action but when she does she is there. She makes the big saves when she has to. She has backstopped us every game. Shantz- – Brenna is a natural athlete in goal and is confident with her hands and feet. Being a goaltender at the CIS level is very, very tough job, but I expect Brenna to compete with the other keepers for a starting spot.
SASHA SIRIANNI; Hansen: All speed. She does some great things on the outside of the field. She contributes either with assists or scoring goals. She works hard defensively as well. Shantz: – Sasha played a little soccer last year with the Kamloops Heat I coach after her youth season ended and I was very impressed. She is lightning quick, aggressive to the play and showed me surprising strength for her small frame. Speed causes all kinds of problems for opponents and I am looking forward to seeing how Sasha adapts.
“It’s been my dream since I started playing soccer to play for TRU,’ explains Collins. “ I didn’t have any idols but I did admire Alanna Bekkering’s (ex WolfPack player who was CCAA All Canadian) playing style. It will be a big adjustment playing against older and stronger girls but I am up for the challenge.”
Hansen on how difficult it will be to watch his girls from the stands come September: “It is going to be tough. I am looking forward to sitting back and watching but I think my time has run its course. The girls need a fresh voice to hear in the background with some new ideas. It will be good for them.”
The 5’2” Emerson Hansen on the physicality of Canada West: “I think I’ll get used to it pretty quickly. I have always played against taller girls. I know how to get into hard tackles and when to back off.”
Sirianni is excited about the jump to CIS: “This is a program with a lot of potential. I like the coach and think we will do well. I know it’ll be a faster pace but I am totally ready for it.”
Worsfold is the younger sister of WolfPack basketball alumna Taiysa who was a top athlete and scholar. Will she feel the pressure of living up to her exploits? “I will definitely feel it,’ she says. “It will push me and motivate me to try and match her and maybe even have bigger success.”
She adds “Taiysa did have a big influence on me coming here. Seeing how she connected with the community while playing while having support of family as well. It made me really want to come here. I really want to give back to the community as I am playing.”
Morris was initially recruited and committed to Scott Reeves and the WolfPack basketball program before deciding to switch to soccer. “I got a really great offer from them and I want to thank them but my passion is with soccer. There so many great girls that I have grown up with on this team so I think it will be great to continue on with that.”