Douglas’ women’s soccer team gears up for another year
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
It’s a grey Wednesday morning as the Royals wrap up another training session. A lone seagull flies across the field, drawing attention to a patch of blue sky that offers hope of something more breaking out—something this squad has every intention of doing as well.
“Can you win it all this year?”
“Absolutely. Of course.”
Coach Ciaran McMahon has no doubts about his team’s chances, and with 18 returning players and several quality recruits, who’s to argue with him?
“We have the ability. We have the skill. We have the drive and the passion for it… I think this is the hardest working team we’ve had. Also the most talented,” adds captain Mia Rushton.
Using last season, in which they narrowly missed out on the playoffs after a tough loss to Quest, as motivation, the squad made sure they were anything but “off” during the offseason, with a number of players training three to four days a week with the team, along with putting in time with their strength and conditioning coach, Jake Elder.
McMahon notes how everyone bought into the possession-style game and how that’s a strength of the team, “[Last season] they really showed a desire to want to improve their style and level of play. And you can see how that drive and desire has carried through with the players coming into the pre-season ready and fit and good to go.”
When asked about this year’s additions, it’s clear McMahon is happy with the fresh blood, going on to talk about Krigi Marti, a transfer from Quest, Tiffany O’Krane, who was with the team last year but couldn’t play due to transfer issues, Michelle Wells, a strong addition to the centre midfield, and then two high school recruits: Amanda Pasternak from North Vancouver and Chelsea Reed of Port Moody.
“Marti and O’Krane have two years of CCAA experience under their belts already, so that’s a huge advantage coming into our roster and just makes us even stronger. And Reed and Pasternak and Wells have shown a keen aptitude to keep up and ingratiate themselves into the team as quickly as possible. One of the great things about having so many returning players is that the fresh blood that comes in is really challenged to perform at their best…they have to keep up and compete right away.”
Rushton comments on how much the team has changed in her time with the Royals: “We had a lot of skill my first year, but the mental game wasn’t there. The attitude was a little bit negative. There were a lot of cliques off the field and that led to some negative attitudes to players on the field. That’s non-existent this year…We feel like a family. There’s a lot of chemistry with the girls.”
Finishing on his thoughts about coaching the team, McMahon remarks, “Every time we come out and train and work together I tell them it’s a pleasure to watch them connect and interact with each other and just grow as a team. It’s a joy to watch and it makes my job easy.”
Look out, PACWEST. You ain’t seen nothing yet.