Blues’ silver medal finish points to exciting future for rising team
Jessica Lio // Online Editor
After a pair of intense back-to-back games in the 2017 Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST) Provincial Championships, the Capilano University Blues women’s soccer team have brought home a Silver medal.
The Blues headed into the tournament as the second seed, defeating the Langara Falcons 1-0 on Oct 27 before advancing to face off against long-time rival team Douglas College Royals in the final the following day. Neither the Blues nor the Royals were able to find the back of the net in the first 90 minutes, and after coming up scoreless in 30 minutes of extra time, the final was decided by penalty kicks. The Royals scored three times while the Blues scored twice, only to see their last shot by Sophia Goto denied.
“I didn’t even see it. I closed my eyes and just listened to the crowd… It was horrible,” striker Catrina Olstrom recalled. “It was like everything was in slow motion. When I opened my eyes, everyone was looking at each other. Douglas ran out, cheering, and we just ran to Sophia and kneeled down.”
For the first-year business student, competing in the finals for the first time was a surreal experience that ended all too soon. Even for third-year defender Jessica Price, who had the memory of losing to the Royals in the PACWEST semi-final last season, winning silver this year was a bittersweet victory.
“It’s very hard going into that type of environment, knowing that there’s something on the line at the end of the game,” said Price, adding that she felt the team displayed mental and physical toughness throughout the game. “It’s unfortunate for the outcome of the game, but it’s the way things go sometimes. It’s a learning curve for the rookies and the vets to be in that environment and control those emotions.”
Olstrom and Price were both named PACWEST Tournament All-Stars, with Olstrom being recognized as Top Forward for her game-winning goal in the semi-finals and Price recognized as Top Defender for her impressive coverage on the back line.
Overall, the Blues had a strong run this season and despite falling to the Royals in the finals, the women finished with their highest PACWEST standings since 2003, with a 5-4-3 record and 19 points. Several young players made outstanding debuts, including Adrianna Babinski, Sydney Schmidt and Claire Ye, who was named PACWEST Rookie of the Year.
Price noted that she was proud to see the team’s progression throughout the season and even with so many inexperienced players joining the team, the strong bond between the 22 players helped propel them through to the final. “I think our rookies came in knowing what was expected of them, and they rose to the challenge,” she said.
After a strong pre-season, however, transitioning into the regular season games proved difficult for the Blues to score goals, with some early games ending in ties or losses. Olstrom established that she plans to work at becoming more effective in goal scoring, while Price stated that she’ll look to lower the number of goals let in next season.
“As a defensive player, looking at how many goals people scored on us some games during the season it’s evident that we really need to work on the back line and understand how to defend,” Price said.
The veteran player was also glad to see her teammates succeeding academically as well as on the field. “With soccer and everything else aside it’s mainly about the schooling. It’s important that [rookies] understand the difficulties that comes with being in university and it’s nice to see that our entire team is there for each other. We want everyone back next year.”
While the women are proud of their win, they’re already looking forward to facing off with the Royals again next season. With a stronger defensive strategy and players returning with more experience, they’ll be determined to claim gold on the Royals’ home turf.