Last season is old news
Two wins, seven rookies and one trip to Mexico. Well, that’s one way to start off a year.
The U of R Women’s soccer team earned themselves two W’s this past weekend in Manitoba. Not a bad way to start a year since coming off the best season in Cougars soccer history.
The team understood there would be expectations now set upon them, but head coach Bob Maltman had few words for the astounding results of 2012-13.
“It was the most successful year last year,” he said. “But that was it.”
With a high percentage of returning athletes – only losing two senior athletes – and seven new recruits, Maltman believes this year they have an even stronger team.
“There is more depth than we had last year, and that’s saying a lot because last year’s team was very good,” said Maltman, who was named the Canada West coach of the year in 2012.
Seven new players may seem like an abundance, however, Maltman is very proud of the new rookies in every way—even more proud that they decided to take their talents to the U of R.
“Every one of them we recruited and every one of them came,” he said.“[The recruits] have a lot of awareness of what the expectations are. They are good technical players in their own right. They’ve all adjusted very well to the change of tempo of the game.”
Third-year centre mid Adriana McCullough is also excited about having the new girls on board.
“It’s good. It helps us prepare because we will be losing a couple after this year,” she said.
McCullough stated that being ranked fifth in the league means they do have something to build on, but the outlook for this year’s squad is something she feels positive about.
“We feel really good about our preseason,” McCullough said. “Lots of collaboration between the rookies and the seniors.”
Obviously, expectations on the pitch will be high this year, but McCullough believes the team has the right attitude going in.
“We really have nothing to lose, because we already went above people’s expectations last year,” she said. “So why not build on that…Just prove that Regina is no one to mess with.”
Something that helped the team mentally was their recent trip to Mexico this past May. For two weeks, the Cougars travelled down south to teach, educate and participate in activities with children in the Pachuca community.
The team even attended a professional soccer match at the Azteca Stadium, which has a capacity of over 100,000.
“It gave them a sense of how meaningful this game is around the world,” explained Maltman. “That is never a bad thing when you have your own athletes get a sense and a taste of that.”
Overall, the humbling trip was something Maltman is pleased his team was able to experience and hopes to continue on in the future.
“In an ideal world [we would go] every five years,” he said. “It’s the type of thing where we just enrich the experience for the student athletes overall.”
But, with Mexico behind them, it’s time now for the team to focus on the season ahead.
A 4-1 win against Winnipeg on Sept. 6, and a 1-0 win against Manitoba on Sept. 7 means the girls have been living up to their expectations already.
But Maltman has different goals for his squad.
“Our main goal is can we evolve to become a very comfortable team with the ball at our feet?,” he asked. “Can we recognize when to take advantage of the weaknesses of other teams?”
Maltman realizes it’s not going to be easy to get back to the final four position they were in last year, but with a little more ruthlessness he believes they are on that path.
“We fight for our university,” Maltman said. “That’s what we’re here for. We’re trying very hard to be something the university can be proud of.”
Sept 21 and 22, the ladies will play host to UBC and Trinity Western. Maltman hopes to have the same amount of support the team had last year in the fans, stating it helps boost the team’s confidence.
If you want to see the Cougars in action, their next home game is Saturday, Sept. 21 at noon at the U of R field.