Last season the SFU women’s soccer team showed remarkable improvement. After ending the 2014 season 2–16, the team roared back with a 7–6–2 record in 2015.
However, it was how last season ended that has the team fired up for this year. The team needed a win in their final game against Western Oregon to finish in the top four, in order to qualify for the playoffs being held here at SFU; they ended up losing 2–1 in overtime.
“They don’t ever want to feel that way again,” said head coach Annie Hamel, referring to how last season ended. “I think that heartbreak fuels you for nine months, that you have to wait for that chance again, the chance to do better and to reach goals that you set out to reach.
“For the last nine months they’ve been preparing and thinking about that, and you don’t forget that type of pain. It’s been a good motivator, especially in the off season, and it’s shown because the kids have come out more prepared than ever before for preseason.”
“I actually think once [we] start believing in [our]selves [we] are going to be very difficult to stop.”
The Clan is a young team this year, as there is a total of 12 freshmen and sophomores to start the season. Despite this, Hamel is convinced that last year’s experience will help the team grow even more.
“Our freshmen last year weren’t true freshmen in the sense that they got minutes here and there,” she explained. “They were starters, so there’s a lot of experience there even though they’re young. Even the growth they’ve made in the spring is incredible. They’ve all improved so much from last year to this year.”
SFU will be led this year offensively by Christina Dickson, last year’s unanimous pick for GNAC Freshman of the Year. However, she’ll have more help this year with the addition of Emma Pringle, whom Hamel called a “true number nine,” and Monpreet Heer. Both players are expected to score goals and help compliment the offence.
Hamel and her team will not have an easy start to conference play. Their first home game after four on the road will be against Division II semifinalist and conference champion, Western Washington. Last season, SFU lost 9–0 over both games, including a 5–0 thrashing at home which saw them concede all five goals in the space of the first 15 minutes.
“The first area of business with that is not soccer, it’s mental,” said Hamel. “I think our team has given Western [Washington] a little too much respect in the past, and it’s almost like you don’t believe you’re going to win the game. The games that we play before that are going to serve confidence to see that we are a quality team, and they’re going to learn who they are as they lead up to that.
“At the end of the day there’s nothing they’re going to see with Western that they will not have seen the previous four games,” she continued. “It’s really a mental thing with Western. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a good side, but I actually think once [we] start believing in [our]selves [we] are going to be very difficult to stop.”
With over nine months of preparation and plenty of motivation, SFU will be looking to improve on a promising 2015 campaign.