Blues rookies shine in their first PACWEST seasons
Carlo Javier // Editor-in-Chief
With the Capilano University Blues women’s soccer team taking another big step forward in the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST), it’s hard to miss the impact that some of their rookies made this year.
Led by the offence-defence combo of defender Claire Ye and mid elder Adrianna Babinski, this year’s rookie crop not only helped the Blues to a 5-3-4 record and a silver medal finish, but also offered a glimpse of just how great the Blues can be in seasons to come.
For their tremendous play this season, both Ye and Babinski were named to the Conference All-Star Team, with Ye also claiming the Rookie of the Year award.
A multi-faceted player, Ye attributed her win to her ability to make an impact on both ends of the pitch. “I contributed defensively and offensively, which I thought helped out the most.” Despite being smaller than most attacking forwards, Ye quickly established herself as a premier stopper in the PACWEST. “I have good body positions,” she said. “I think if I get my head start and good body position, I do really well with holding players off and I can put my body on the line.” Another factor to Ye’s impressive play was her innate ability to go downfield and find the back of the net. Even though she lined up as a defender, Ye finished second on the Blues in scoring with three goals for the season.
While Ye’s versatility made her a constant threat on the field, for Babinski, it was her preternatural goal scoring talents that opposing defences worried about. With seven goals in her rookie season, the budding offensive star led the Blues in scoring and finished second in the conference. “It was probably me trying to get a name for myself,” Babinski said about her impressive scoring arsenal. “Being a rookie obviously, you want to show what you’re able to do.”
Due to their impressive seasons, both Ye and Babinski ended up neck-and-neck in the race for the Rookie of the Year award, and although Ye ultimately claimed the honour, she admitted that the award could very well have gone to her teammate. “I thought it could have gone to either me or Ada [Babinski] because she got seven goals in the season.”
Although Ye and Babinski both graduated from Dr. Charles Best Secondary in Coquitlam, they only played together in their final years of high school. Despite this, the two have formed quite the chemistry on the field – particularly on the offensive end. “We can play really well together, and our chemistry is pretty good especially when she [Ye] wants to attack,” said Babinski. “On cases of working together, I’m not going to say ‘easy’, but we know what each other wants.”
As successful as their regular season performances were, the two ultimately faced a bittersweet ending to their season. The Blues fell to the Douglas College Royals after penalty kicks in the PACWEST gold medal game and for Ye, the disappointment does not even stem from the loss itself, but to how they lost the game. “I’m mad that we lost at PKs, that’s just a terrible way to end the season,” she said. The gravity of the defeat was magnified as the Blues had played such tremendous defence throughout the game as both teams kept each other off the scoreboard for the duration of the whole match. “We had chances in overtime; Jess [Price] just miskicked it and I went up for the header, that’s two chances that we just missed,” she added.
As tough as it was for Ye and her teammates, Babinski had to sit out the playoffs and watch from the sidelines. She tore a ligament in her left foot a week before the provincial tournament, forcing her to opt for surgery and thus miss the final game of the regular season and the entirety of the playoffs. “Its never easy to sit on the sidelines to watch a game, especially if you’re injured,” she said. “It’s tough watching, but at the same time, I knew there were other people on the team that could execute goals, too.”
With the team coming short on scoring in the final game, Ye believes that Babinski’s ability to find the net could have been the difference maker. “Honestly, she brings such a calmness in the centre-mid and a presence that I don’t think anyone really replaced,” Ye reflected. “Whenever she has the ball, I trust her enough that she won’t mess up, that she’s going to make a smart play.”
Though Babinski’s offensive talents were sorely missed, it was the play of another rookie that helped the Blues actually get to the finals. “Catrina [Olstrom], she changed the game in the semi-finals.” The speedy forward was another one of the Blues’ more impressive rookies, finishing the year with a pair of goals and a player of the week recognition.
The Blues may have fallen a step short of the gold medal, but their already formidable, yet still youthful roster only promises a brighter horizon. Should their core group return, a provincial gold and a trip to nationals should come as soon as next season.