Hot off their first victory of the season, TRU WolfPack women’s soccer team has no time to rest on their laurels.
The WolfPack face two of the top teams in the Canada West Pacific Division this weekend. They entertain Trinity Western University Spartans (3-0-2) on Saturday, Sept. 24, and University of the Fraser Valley Cascades (2-1-2) on Sunday, Sept. 25.
Both matches have 1 p.m. start times at Hillside Stadium.
“It is nice to get that win out of the way with a young squad and a new coaching staff,” said WolfPack head coach Kelly Shantz. “You are always aiming for that first win and something to hold your hat on. Now we are focusing in on this weekend and the start of what I call ‘Murderer’s Row.’ Our next four games are against the four Lower Mainland teams who are perennial powerhouses in this country. We know what we are up against. Trinity Western is on top of the division and are the class program in this country over the last decade. They are very strong. Fraser Valley is always tough and always puts out a good team. We know we are up against it. It’s another big part of our learning curve.”
Trinity Western has a balanced attack. In fact, they don’t have a player in the top five in scoring. Their keeper Ally Williamson is second in goals against average (0.40), fourth in saves percent (.882) and goals against (2). Monika Levarsky of Fraser Valley leads the Canada West in assists (5) and is third in shots (17).
TRU’s keeper Alyssa Smith (1st year, Langley) has turned some heads so far with her performance. Shantz says she is playing beyond her experience at some points this year. “Alyssa has progressed to the point where we are going to talk to her more like a second or third year because that is the level of play she has brought herself up to. In order to keep improving, we need to hold our players to constant improvement. She has been a good addition. She has had fantastic moments. But she has had freshman moments too. She has been a bright light. So, too, have our other keepers Deanna Brady (1st year, Richmond) and Brenna Worsfold (1st year, Kamloops). We are happy with the position.”
The WolfPack have a very youthful team. Shantz says they are improving. “There were things that we did on Sunday against UNBC that we hadn’t done all year. It wasn’t because of our opponent but more because we were starting to think and come together as a group. They did lapse in the final 15 minutes of the first half. We told them that we want those 15 minutes to decrease as the team becomes more veteran.”
Shantz says the keys to success this weekend are simple: “Focused play for 45 minutes per half. We are going to tell them (the players) to break it down to even 15 minute chunks. We are up against teams that will exploit weakness. They don’t switch off. They don’t take time off. They are veteran. They are loaded and ready to go. We want to avoid the lapses. Even in the games we have lost by scores we don’t like, we look back at games and see sections of the game where we gave up a lot of damage. Four goals to Calgary in a nine minute span when we were switched off and completely disorganized. We gave up three to the U of A in short order. That is what happens to you when you have a bad 10 or 15 minutes against a high quality opponent. They make you pay. We need to be mentally focused and switched on this weekend. If something bad happens, shake it off. “
Both matches this weekend will be webcast on www.canadawesttv. They are pay per view.