Women’s soccer team goalkeeper Cara Santaga made a big change transferring from Trinity Western University to the University of Saskatchewan this year, but so far it’s paying off. The third-year biology major hopes to one day study veterinary medicine and in order to get the best education she could, she came to the U of S.
“A big part of it was school,” she said. “Their science program [at TWU] wasn’t as strong as here. I eventually want to be here anyway so it just worked out that I got in and got on the team.”
Santaga started playing soccer when she was eight years old and quickly fell in love with the game. She started guarding the net when she was 10 and it didn’t take her long to figure out that keeper was the position for her.
“By the time I was 12 I had really settled into” playing net, she said.
Before transferring to the U of S, Santaga played for the TWU Spartans, who won the Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s soccer title in 2012. Santaga and the Huskies faced off against the Spartans for the first time this year on Sept. 21.
“It was weird, but it felt good to play against them. It was kind of like any other game,” she said.
The Huskies went into the match riding a three game winning streak, but were up against a team they had never beaten before. Even against a daunting opponent, the Huskies came out of the match with their record unscathed after tying the Spartans 1-1.
The game is one of Santaga’s best memories during her short time with the squad.
“Tying Trinity last weekend was a really big moment,” she said. “Even though we tied them it felt like we beat them 10-0. I was so excited.”
Playing for a new team is intimidating but Santaga quickly found her place and felt immediately accepted by her teammates.
“The team atmosphere is so great,” she said. “All the girls are so close, there’s no cliques at all and we’re just like a big family. You come into the dressing room everyday and you’re friends with everyone so it’s really great.”
Santaga has a flair for the dramatic and loves that being in net gives her the chance to make show stopping saves.
“I love making the big dive,” she said. “They’re so much fun and they look cool.”
Playing keeper gives Santaga the chance to be the hero but also means she’s often the deciding factor on the field.
“The worst part is that eventually all the pressure comes down to you. You get used to it but at the same time it kind of sucks if you lose a game,” she said.
However, Santaga has been excelling in net this year and it’s paying off with big wins for the Huskies. The team is off to a great start and hopes to ride their momentum all the way into playoffs this year. Santaga’s goal is to help her team get there by making it as hard as she can for other teams to score.
“Personally, I would like to keep my goals against average pretty low,” she said. “I’d like to get a couple more shutouts.”
After losing to the University of Regina Cougars last year in the quarterfinals of playoffs, Santaga thinks the Huskies are hungry to go even further this season and she won’t be surprised if they do.
Santaga attributes the team’s great start to their preparation during the offseason and the attitude they brought to the field from game one.
“Everyone came in super focused,” she said.
Before this past weekend’s games Santaga felt confident in the team’s chances of remaining undefeated.
“I think we were more nervous about last weekend just because they were bigger teams,” she said. “Calgary’s been doing really well so we can’t take them lightly. I think we have a really good chance of keeping our record.”
Photo: Jordan Dumba/Photo Editor