Blues aim to build on last season’s promise
Carlo Javier // Editor-in-Chief
Last year’s provincial bronze finish ended a near decade-long medal drought for the Capilano Blues women’s soccer team. This season, they’re looking to strike gold.
The team has already started the year on a high note, going undefeated in the preseason for the first time in Dennis Kindel’s three years as head coach. The flawless preseason record included a 3-0 victory over the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack of USports. The positive start builds off last year’s finish – a conclusion that hinted towards a promising future for the long struggling program.
Last season, the Blues weathered inconsistent play and heartbreaking crunch-time defeats on their way to their first podium finish in nine years. For Kindel, things are most certainly looking up. “My biggest thing this year is [to] definitely make the finals,” he said. “I believe we should win the league if we put our minds to it.”
Though winning the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PacWest) championship just a year after reclaiming relevancy seems like a lofty goal, the Blues are entering the 2017-2018 season with as dangerous a team as any. For starters, the Blues get to reap the benefits of continuity. Of the 22 players listed on the roster, 12 are returning student-athletes from last season. Of those 12, five have at least three years of PacWest experience under their belts.
The returning veterans are led by midfielder Dominika Paige, whom Kindel selected as captain prior to the kick-off of the regular season. “She’s a very outgoing, very positive person, which is something I definitely look for in a captain,” said Kindel. “She plays centre-mid and is a very good holding midfielder who likes to get forward and keeps everyone from panicking.”
Paige’s poise on the field is an attribute that she herself acknowledges as her best. “I know when to keep it calm and composed, I can visualize the field very well and I know when to switch the field and where to be without rushing and getting distracted in the heat of the game,” she said.
Other key midfielders include Mehar Waraich, Natalie Leclerc and Marsha Chessire. Minding the net this year will be the returning duo of Brittney Roussy and Nikki Gerbrandt. Both second-year goalkeepers excelled in their roles last year, with Roussy memorably coming through in the penalty against the Langara Falcons to claim the provincial bronze medal.
Also returning will be defensive stalwart Jessica Price and forward Jaimi MacCara.
While the Blues retained much of their core, they did lose some key members of their roster, including their last two team MVPs: Taylor Einhorn and Juliana Manella. Einhorn led the team in goals scored last year and was honoured by the PacWest as both an all star and a top forward. Although the departure of the two seems to create a void in scoring, Kindel has the utmost confidence in some of the players he’s brought in this past off-season. “We were definitely looking for some speed up front, which we got,” he said.
The coaching staff also looked for rookies who would be ready to contribute immediately, and some of the new players on the Blues have already shown the impact they can make. Forward Catrina Olstrom was described by Kindel as, “probably the fastest player in the league.” Midfielder and forward Adrianna Babinski has also impressed early on, slipping in a clutch corner kick in the 48th minute of the season opener against the Falcons on Sept. 10. Babinski’s late goal put the Blues on the board and ultimately staved off a loss, as the Blues and the Falcons played to a 1-1 tie.
One rookie to keep an eye on for the season is multi-skilled defender Claire Ye. The first-year student-athlete led the Blues in goals during the preseason and exhibited the ability to play multiple positions effectively. “She’s definitely one of our best players as a first year,” said Kindel.
With a promising 0-0-1 start to the season, the Blues look poised to continue on their exciting finish from last year. For Paige, the luxury of having terrific coaches could really be the key to their success, “We have a very good coaching staff and from there it comes together and forms a great team,” she said.
Kindel, meanwhile, has the utmost confident on their play on the field. “Win the league, I really think we can, for sure.”