Women’s soccer team ends season with confidence in loss
by Chris Jaster
The University of Regina women’s soccer team ended its season with a 2-0 loss to the University of Alberta Pandas, who are ranked eighth in the country. The loss wraps up the the Cougars season and leaves them with a 1-11-2 record, identical to last season’s mark. The win improved the Pandas record to 8-2-4 and a third place finish in Canada West.
Tracy Beechey opened the scoring late in the first half as Beechey outran both teams and placed her shot behind Cougars keeper Melissa Bateman. Alix Strap added the other goal in the 83-minute mark with a long shot that found its way to the bottom corner past Bateman.
“There was a lack of communication on the goals,” explains Bateman. “I could have had the second one, but I messed up.”
Pandas head coach Kelly Vandergrift knew that the game could have gone the other way. “We have to give the Regina team a lot of credit,” says Vandergrift. “They worked hard, they came out, they shut us down and they didn’t give us much time on the ball. We were lucky to put a late one away because they were in it until about the 80th minute.”
One of the biggest influences in the game was the wind. The wind was blowing the entire second half and blew the ball out of touch if it had too much power on it, or if was kicked into the air.
“The wind took your breath away when you were running,” says Pandas goal scorer Alix Strap. “It was blowing the ball right back at the person to whoever was taking [the goal kicks and corner kicks].”
“The University of Alberta is a good team and there’s nothing better than to end the season with a strong result,” says Cougars midfielder and defender Kerri Burgess. “It wasn’t a win, but when we went to Alberta, we lost 7-0, so a 2-0 loss isn’t that bad.
The biggest difference was the Cougars’ ability to play a style of game they wanted to play. “We definitely dictated our style of play,” says Cougars co-captain Astrid Baecker. “We made them conform to our style of three forwards, and that was a big difference.”
Head coach Jason Jones, who was in his first year as the Cougars head coach, was happy with the result in the match, “We’re happy because the girls put in a strong effort.”
Despite having an identical record to last season, the team believes they are taking steps forward with the program in it’s third year.
“This season was a stepping stone,” explains co-captain Leslie McLennan. “Our record isn’t that great compared to the rest of Canada West, but we competed well with other teams that were more at our level.”
“The game where we tied the University of Saskatchewan (2-9-3) was the first time in the three-year history of the program that they have taken a point from the U of S,” says Jones. “It’s also the first time in the program’s history that we have beaten the University of Calgary (5-7-2).”
The Cougars lose three players to graduation this season. Midfielder and co-captain Astrid Baecker, forward and co-captain Leslie McLennan and defender Rattana Souriavong are all leaving.
The loss of the two captains will be difficult for the team to deal with. Baecker has been around since the program started in 2001 and has been a leader on and off the field.
“From a leadership point, it’s going to be tough to fill those roles because Astrid was pretty much everything for the team,” says Cougars striker Jessica Waller. “Someone is definitely going to have to step up for that.”
Regardless of the three players leaving, the plan for the future has been set by Jones.
“We want to instill in these young ladies that it’s all right to compete and go at your friend in practice and find that edge,” states Jones. “That’s what we are setting out for and we’re not going to change that philosophy.”
Jones is spending the off season recruiting players who will play hard in practice and in games. He is also putting the team on weight and training programs.
The current edition of the team is being split in two to play in the indoor soccer league in the Regina Soccer Association. Jones hopes this will create the edge he’s looking for so the girls can improve on their record next year.