Kamloops, BC—The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s soccer team’s abbreviated pre season comes to a close this weekend (Aug 28-29). The WolfPack will travel to Edmonton, Alberta to partake in a three team exhibition tournament hosted by the MacEwan University Griffins.
This is the second year of a three year, three team tournament: which was initially held in Prince George by the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves in 2015. It will be held in Kamloops next year.
The WolfPack will meet up with UNBC on Saturday (Aug 28) and then MacEwan on Sunday (Aug 29).
Thompson Rivers is coming off two losses last week against a pair of PACWEST squads: Capilano University and Quest University.
“This is a natural part of our progression,” said TRU head coach Kelly Shantz. “This will be a test against two CIS opponents. We have made great progress in practice over the last couple of weeks. MacEwan is a good side and UNBC is always improving. I am interested to see how we step up. It is another marker in our path.
When asked what positives he sees in his young squad, Shantz says: “Fitness level has been very good with so many young players coming in so keen. The enthusiasm and passion for the sport is also there. They are a very coachable group and all have proven they want to step up and contribute. They want to make the changes and the moves to make that happen. I think we are going to progress quickly.”
During their trip to the Lower Mainland and Squamish, the WolfPack—with no fifth year players and only one fourth year in their lineup did some bonding. “It was interesting. With so many young players-and I don’t like to keep harping on that—leaders start to emerge. As much as it was getting the girls out on a five hour hike in the wilderness, it also started to develop leaders among the players. We need those. I also learned a lot about these players as individuals. A lot of these players are from out of town and we know them as soccer players alone. A few of them had to push through their own fears to climb to the top of the mountain. Some were afraid of the outdoors, afraid of bears, afraid of heights…they had to find out it was a pretty cool experience across the board.”
Going into their final two exhibition tilts, Shantz says pretty well every position is up for grabs. The only one who has her starting position assured is Captain Kindra Maricle (4th year, Kamloops, BC) in the midfield. “Natalie Verdiel (2nd year, defence, Powell River) is a second year player but started every match in her rookie season and will pretty well be out there on a regular basis all year long. I don’t think it is any big secret that freshman Cassie Morris (Kamloops, BC) will be in the centre of the defense and be a pretty big thing for us moving forward.”
The WolfPack have a first week bye and don’t open their 2016 Canada West season until Saturday, September 10th in Calgary against the Dinos. Their home opener at Hillside Stadium will be Saturday, September 17th when the University of Alberta Pandas pay a visit. Kick off that day will be noon.