Team looks to build for next season
Author: Stephen Hodgson – Contributor
How do you go about summing up a season like the one that the Cougars soccer team has had? To wax lyrical about a tumultuous season crowned with national glory would be misleading but, at the same time, to reduce the outcome as being nothing more than the sum of the team’s record would also be entirely unfair. Therefore, we must take more time to reflect upon what was a relatively inglorious yet, pragmatically speaking, constructive season.
Following the Cougars from the start of the season has proven to be a frustrating experience on the field. However, having taken the time to see what happens away from the hallowed turf, it makes one truly appreciate the true extent of the team’s efforts. Welcomed straight into the team from the start, first as a learning bystander writing notes here and there, and later as a member of the team family helping out where possible, it has been a far from frustrating experience.
During the season, the Cougars train three days a week in between weekly meetings, travelling to and from games, playing in games and, not to mention, studying (apparently, that’s what the university experience is all about); it is truly extraordinary that these ladies can make this work and achieve the level of excellence that they do, both academically and athletically. Most of this is down to the players themselves, but they are helped along the way by an excellent coaching staff in Bob Maltman and Robb McCaffrey. The squad does a sensational job of balancing their time and efforts.
So, when it came to the crunch, what was missing from the season? A 1-10-3 record might have some questioning the quality of the squad. Yes, there are a number of things that might have panned out a little better: finishing could have been more clinical, to a degree more selfish than it was in actuality; then there is a question of how the team dealt with counterattacks; also, a certain number of high cross-field balls weren’t dealt with sufficiency to warrant victory on some occasions. Regardless of where spectators draw the line, there are still a great deal of positives to be drawn from the season.
Firstly, the Cougars have been able to align thirteen new recruits to the Cougar playing philosophy. We have already seen some of the new recruits shine in their debut season. The likes of Savannah Williams, coming into the team strong and challenging Kacey McFee for the lead gloves; Cassie Longmuir, who has made her presence known in the fullback role for the team and shone in the closing games of the season; Tove Werner, technically in her first year of eligibility, was phenomenal in the centre of the park; the list goes on. More of these players will come to fruition next season, adding to the calibre of the squad.
In addition to this, the squad has had strong bouts in almost all of its games. In all but four of the Cougar’s regular season games, the game has been decided by one goal; this is telling proof of the misleading nature of the season’s results. If the team can find their cutting edge, and are able to pull the trigger in front of goal on a whim, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the Western division. The results of any recruitment in this area will be telling, and the team undoubtedly missed a deal of competition for forward spots. Obviously, injuries in the forward line are unavoidable, with Sienne Krynowsky being one of those that were sorely missed, but that cutting edge was lacking in the final third. Thankfully, Karlee Vorrieter was on hand to help fill said gap. Again, the closed season will be pivotal in this area.
All in all, this season will be one to remember, despite the results that were gained from it. The team rallied together at the hard times, and the experiences that they gained in this regard will prove beneficial to their future development as players. It’ll be sad to see some of the veterans move onto new climes, and co-captains Celia Michaud and Kayla McDonald will leave big shoes to be filled at the back. Both players led by example in what proved to be a tough season for the team, and their presence will continue to be felt in the future endeavours of the squad.
So, it’s onto the next one for the Cougars soccer team. I, for one, can’t wait to see what the closed season has in store for the squad, and the pre-season will be an interesting time to see how far they have come. I encourage all of those reading this to come down to a game or two in future, as this low yield of sorts is bound to be followed by a plentiful harvest!