On Sept. 6, the Wesmen women’s soccer team will face off against the University of Regina Cougars for their first game of the regular season.
Over the summer, the Wesmen have focused on interval training and formations, according to Katia Occhino, a fifth-year defensive player. She notes that their fitness trainer, Nigel Moore, has played a huge role this year. Furthermore, Occhino says, the Wesmen switched from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-2-3-1.
As part of the Great Plains Challenge, a pre-season tournament held in Saskatchewan, the Wesmen played against the MacEwan University Griffins, the University of Regina Cougars and the Thompson Rivers WolfPack. After a tough 6-0 loss to the Griffins, the Wesmen “gathered their thoughts and tried to figure out how to bounce back,” third-year defensive player Chantal Boulet says.
“We were all feeling uneasy about the game and agreed that the game was not a reflection of how we play as a team,” she says. “In our next game against Regina, we gained some focus and determination and proved that we are a team who learns from their mistakes and downfalls rather than dwelling on them.”
Sure enough, the Wesmen were able to beat the Cougars 2-0.
The Wesmen finished the preseason with a 3-2 record, beating the Cougars, the University of Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjackets and the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs.
Occhino is excited for the year ahead.
“I’m really looking forward to playing some great soccer this year and making the most of my fifth and final year on this team,” she says.
“In the past years, we have had problems with negativity and we would lose focus easily during games. But this year, we have a lot of new players. We are a much more high-energy and positive team.”
Among the new players on the team are rookies McKaely Snider (midfield) from the University of Winnipeg Collegiate and Victoria Bloom (defence) from Reynold Secondary School.
“There is so much opportunity to grow and play in your first year (at the U of W), unlike (at) many other schools,” Snider says. “All the seniors are very inclusive, and we bonded pretty quickly.”
Bloom, who hails from Victoria, B.C., has had a positive experience so far.
“As a rookie in a new province, everyone has been very welcoming and supportive. I enjoy the way everyone plays together as a team.”
Boulet sings the praises of the incoming rookies, saying the new players are what she is most looking forward to this season.
“This year, we will have a well-balanced team with our combination of seniors and first-years,” she says. “Not only does this give a chance for the majority of the first-years to get some playing time, but it will also give them the opportunity to watch and learn from the older, more experienced members of our team.”
The Wesmen play the Cougars on Friday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. at the Duckworth Centre, followed by another home game the next day at 7 p.m. against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.