Kamloops, BC—After getting a first week bye, the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s soccer team will open its 2016 Canada West season on the road.
New head coach Kelly Shantz will take his youthful crew into Calgary and Lethbridge (Sept 10-11) for their first two matches of the year.
“We don’t know what to expect,” says Shantz. “We have a young group. A bunch of first years. It is going to be interesting to see how we react when we get into the heat of the battle. We have been training for over a month. It has been a long haul. I think we will be competitive with both Calgary and Lethbridge. They kind of match up similar to UNBC and MacEwan whom we played a few weeks ago. It will be an interesting weekend from the coaches on down.”
TRU is virtually an entirely new squad from the one which finished sixth in the West division (2-8-4) and went to the Canada West quarterfinals. 18 members of that roster are no longer with the program.
Shantz says the squad has progressed greatly since the start of training camp. “It has been a different camp. We have so many new players that we are teaching systems that probably other teams don’t have to do because they have so many returning players. Our progress is likely a lower bar than typically other CIS programs. But we have made tremendous progress on what we have tried to accomplish. The girls are keen. We have had tremendous enthusiasm. They are keyed up for this weekend.”
The WolfPack are led by fourth year midfielders Kindra Maricle (Kamloops, BC) and Katie Harding (Salmon Arm, BC). Maricle started last year while Harding is returning to the ‘Pack after a two year absence.
The other starter in the TRU lineup is second year defender Natalie Verdiel (Powell River, BC).
“We have some great leaders but they are more group leaders,” the coach said. “Katie Harding and Kindra Maricle. Kindra will definitely led on the field. This is a group with a bunch of players who will lead even if they are not a formal captain. They trust each other. We have great chemistry going already. The leadership is spread out. Second years and even some first years. Certainly Natalie has been stepping up. We have been getting good leadership out of first years Sasha Sirianni, Cassie Morris and Keenan Degen. Some of the local girls. Even if they are quiet they have been communicating well. It is indicative of 15 of our 18 players in the second year and under category.”
Shantz says they utilized their ‘bye week’ a bit differently than most. “It was a benefit. We have been training a lot. From the basics of fitness, to high end tactics we want the girls to use. We took two days off. The girls were showing some wear and tear. We had an exhibition match against a TOFC (Thompson Okanagan Football Club) team on the Sunday afternoon. The girls came back rejuvenated and ready to go. They had a new mental focus.”
The Dinos enter the weekend ranked as the number nine team in the CIS top 10 poll. They were 8-3-3 last year (second in the East Division) while Lethbridge was 2-9-3 (sixth in the East Division).
Both Matches will be webcast on www.Canadawesttv.com
CORNER KICKS: The Dino’s have one Interior player on their roster: defender Kira Lee of Vernon, BC (4th year). The Pronghorns have two Interior players: midfielders Erica Augsten (2nd year) and Morag Paterson (4th year).
The Pronghorns are celebrating their 30th year of existence in 2016.
After the matches, TRU returns to Kamloops for their home opener. They face the University of Alberta Pandas at Hillside Stadium on Saturday, September 16th. Kickoff is noon. The following day they will entertain the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves. That too, is a noon kick off.