After winning the provincial final during overtime, the Blues place fifth at nationals
Bridget Stringer-Holden // News Editor
The nail-biting provincial final for women’s soccer was held between the Capilano University (CapU) Blues and the Douglas College Royals on their home turf in Coquitlam on Oct. 31.
The Blues won the league — meaning they weren’t required to play in the semi-final. At the beginning of preseason, the team set the goal to make it to nationals, and the provincial finals were the only hurdle left to overcome.
“The tensions were high from the minute we knew we were playing Douglas in the final, especially because they had the home field advantage,” explained Aynsley Hurtado (she/her), who plays centre midfield. “There was a big crowd from the first whistle and you could feel the tension between the players and fans on the sidelines.”
In the first half, the Blues were falling behind, but managed to score a goal. Near the end of the second half, a Douglas player threw a hand ball in the box. Andrea Perrotta buried the ball in the net during the penalty shot, making the score 1-1 and pushing the game into overtime.
“I remember when we got the call for the penalty shot, I started crying because I was so excited that we were right back in it,” said Hurtado, who ended up scoring the winning goal by shooting the ball just under the bar, enough to put the Blues in a 2-1 lead. “It was truly the best feeling in the world,” said Hurtado. “I was in shock that the ball had gone in — it was a mix of excitement, adrenaline and exhaustion — that gold medal still feels surreal.”
Hurtado had played in two other provincial finals with the Blues, winning silver both times. As this year’s PACWEST All-Star, she has achieved the goal she set at the start of the season, and worked during the off-season to come back fit and strong.
Ever since her parents put her in soccer camp 18 years ago, Hurtado has been playing soccer. “There’s videos of me standing in the goal with a broken elbow,” she remembers. “I guess nothing stopped me.” A competitive player since the age of 12, soccer overtook Hurtado’s life as she found herself training before, during and after school. “Some semesters are harder than others when balancing work, school, social life and soccer,” she explains. “Being around like minded people really helps me stay focused on school because it’s motivating to know that 24 other girls are in the same boat.”
The national championships were held Nov. 10-13 at Humber College in Toronto. While the Blues didn’t take home the gold, it was a new experience for all of them and very different from what the players were used to. “A tournament like this forces you into a different mindset, staying focused on soccer for a couple days straight is a hard thing to do but I think as a team we knew what we wanted to achieve there,” says Hurtado, noting that they won their first game 7-1, which was the confidence boost they needed for the semi-finals against one of the number one seeded teams in Canada, Vanier.
“Although Vanier pushed the whole entire 90 minutes, they couldn’t pass our defending, ending in a 0-0 draw,” explains Ada Babinski (she/her), the Blues’ centre midfielder and captain. Instead, the teams went head-to-head in penalty kicks, where Vanier defeated them 5-4.“Losing in the shootout was one of the most heartbreaking sports moments in my life,” said Babinski, “but I could not be prouder of the amount of energy and teamwork went into that game from my team.”
The team lost the penalty shootouts against the SAIT Trojans in the game leading up to the bronze medal match. “Moving forward, we know what to expect and we are motivated to do the work to come back and win it next year,” said Hurtado. “We left holding our heads high, knowing that we performed well and gave great team performances overall.”
This is the first time the team has gotten to play at nationals in 14 years — something that people may attribute to Babinski’s captaincy. “I wouldn’t say that my leadership is what brought the team success [this season], it was the environment we all created to make everyone feel like they had a voice on the team was what made us move forward,” says Babinski. Other than communicating with the team on behalf of the coach, Babinski feels that her role isn’t more work compared to the other players, as all the older players share responsibilities and leadership on and off the field.
“Playing soccer at a competitive level for most of my life has taught me incredible amounts of discipline and this has translated into my varsity life,” says Babinski, noting the importance of staying organized. Before the week starts, she will schedule the entire week with time allocated for studying, training and commuting.
Despite the time commitment, both Babinski and Hurtado — who have been on the team for multiple years — recommend that those who are passionate about soccer consider joining the team. “I think it’s hard making friends at Cap unless you’re involved in the school,” says Hurtado. “It’s quite the time commitment but it definitely comes with perks and gives you a unique chance to surround yourself with people who share the same passion and drive.”
Although the current season is over for the year, “we would love to make sporting events bigger at Cap, so the more people we can get out the better,” says Hurtado, mentioning that basketball and volleyball are starting soon. “I encourage everyone to get out and watch a game!”
See the CapU Blues website for more information about the Women’s Soccer team schedule and stats.