KAMLOOPS - There should be a lot of determined faces at Hillside Stadium when the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s soccer team opens its training camp on Monday, Aug. 10.
The WolfPack were one of the strongest teams in Canadian Collegiate Soccer but found the adjustment to Canada West and the CIS a difficult pill to swallow in 2014-15.
Thompson Rivers struggled to find their way and wound up in the bottom of the Pacific Division with a win, 10 losses and a tie.
Head coach Tom McManus and the returning veterans know that another finish like that will not be accepted.
“I have been looking forward to the start of training camp since we kicked the final ball last season,” he says. “Camp will be exciting and competitive.”
McManus says there was a lot of lessons learned in their first year in arguably the toughest division in Canadian University Sports.
“We weren’t sharp enough last year. In CIS, you don’t get all day to set up and take the shot. In defending, they come at you very fast and are physical.”
McManus had the potential of 21 players from his 25 person roster from last year eligible to return. Two of his leaders—keeper Emily Edmundson and midfielder Bronwyn Crawford (both Kamloops) have played out their eligibility.
Some others like midfielder Kelsey Martin (Kamloops) and Nadine Netelenbos (Calgary) have decided to take a year off school.
This opens up a number of spots and between 30 to 35 prospects and returnees will be at training camp. McManus gave his veterans a stern message when they broke for the summer: “Come in fit and be ready to work hard. No one is guaranteed a spot on the team.”
McManus has signed a few players for the coming season including two fifth year players with ties to Kamloops—keeper Taylor Shantz and midfielder Brianna Powrie. Both played in the PACWEST with Quest University Canada last season. Another player who will be counted on heavily is Sarah Seebach of Kamloops. Seebach played two seasons at Carleton University. She sat out last season .
“I believe that we have looked to improve everywhere,” the coach says about the prospects coming in. “ It is really the same thing we do every year.”
The first week of camp will involve fitness testing, inter-squad games and preparation for their inaugural exhibition match on Saturday, Aug. 15, against Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves of the Alberta College Athletic Conference.
That match will be played Saturday, Aug. 15, at 10:30 a.m. at Hillside Stadium.
The only other exhibition matches TRU has will be played in Prince George on Aug. 29 against UNBC and MacEwan.
The WolfPack will play an expanded schedule this year. Unfortunately for their fans they will play the first three weeks of the Canada West regular season on the road. They open Sept. 5-6 in Manitoba against the Bisons and the Winnipeg Wesmen. Friday Sept. 11, they play in Alberta before going to Prince George to face UNBC on Sunday, Sept 13. The following weekend, Sept. 18-19, they head to Trinity Western and Fraser Valley.
Thompson Rivers’ home opener is Saturday, Sept. 26, versus the University of Victoria Vikes. Kickoff is 2 p.m.
McManus has added longtime KYSA coach and executive member Mark MacKenzie to his coaching staff along with David Stride and Danilo Caron. Stride is the conditioning coach while Caron handles the keepers.
A reminder that The WolfPack are hosting their annual benefit soccer clinic on Saturday, Aug. 22, at Hillside Stadium upper field. Admission by donation. Proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s society. U-5 to U-11 players will go in the morning session with older players going in the afternoon. For more information or to register, email Tom Mcmanus at firstname.lastname@example.org.