Kamloops, BC—The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s soccer team is looking to renew the “Kamloops-Kelowna” rivalry in Canada West women’s soccer this week.

The beginning of the “President’s Cup” competition between TRU and the University of British Columbia Okangan Heat will begin Tonight (Thurs, Oct 6) when the WolfPack and the Heat meet in women’s and men’s soccer.

For the TRU women, they kick things off at 6 pm against the Heat at Hillside Stadium.

Going into the weekend, UBCO sits in sixth place with a record of 2-6.  The ‘Pack are in seventh with a 1-7 record.

“We are the underdogs for sure,” says TRU head coach Kelly Shantz. “I have checked the rosters to be sure and we are, by far, the youngest, least experienced team in the Canada West and likely Canada. UBCO has several veterans, a full roster and are playing well. We look forward to the rivalry matches.”

Shantz is long familiar with the Kamloops-Kelowna rivalry. He has experienced it first hand as a player and coach on many levels.  “I don’t have to create much motivation for this one. The returning players already have it, the local players on the roster have a lifelong ‘rivalry gene’ embedded for games against Kelowna…the rest will catch on very fast.”

Both teams are coming off back to back weeks against the upper echelon of the Canada West Pacific Division: UBC, UVIC, Trinity Western and Fraser Valley.  “We knew the middle of our season with those back to back matches would be a rugged set,” Shantz explains. “We have to concentrate on finishing the season well. We have UBCO twice and UNBC on the schedule. Those are teams we need to do well with.”

When he looks at his ‘rookie laden’ roster, Shantz says some players have stood out: “ Alyssa Smith (keeper, Langley, BC), Keenen Degen  (midfield, Kamloops, BC) and Cassie Morris (defender, Kamloops, BC) among the freshmen have had to play big minutes against veteran opponents in key parts of the field and continue to work hard, improve and stay motivated most consistently.  As a team, our willingness to work hard in training and keep our focus in the mentally tough times has allowed us as coaches’ great latitude in pushing the entire team to be better. We are really happy with the team chemistry in a tough year.”

Which leads to the question: what about morale? “I was very worried about our team morale and chemistry could be much worse, “the coach explains. “ There are issues with morale and focus at this point in the year that any team at any time is going to experience. I describe them as ‘mosquito bite’ problems and not major issues.”

Shantz utilized both his keepers in their 8-0 setback at UBC on Saturday (Oct 1).  What’s the plan going into this weekend?  “We are playing to win every game out and will go with whomever we feel gives us the best shot. Alyssa has had a solid rookie year and remains our starter but we will make changes whenever the need presents.”

The two teams will finish up the home and home series Saturday (Oct 8) in Kelowna.

Thursday’s game is the only night time contest for the ‘Pack at Hillside Stadium.