After winning their first medal of any kind — a bronze in the Canada West championships — the Huskies women’s soccer team is looking to build on their new-found success.
The team graduated zero players and brought in some highly-touted recruits, making last year’s strong squad even more dangerous. With the core of the team still intact for this year and at least a couple more years after, the future is bright for the Huskies.
Head coach Jerson Barandica-Hamilton is returning for a second year after a tremendous debut season. The team set a program record for wins and there were some excellent individual performances last season that helped the Dogs come within one win of qualifying for the national championships.
Following the breakout year for the team, Barandica-Hamilton is excited for the new season.
“It was our best year yet for the program. This year we have high expectations because we have a very experienced group. To be honest, we’re just trying to take it day by day and focus on each game as it comes up, but ideally we would love to take it one more step and qualify for the national championships.”
With 13 of the 21 players on the roster hailing from Saskatoon, many of the players have played together at some point in their careers. A handful of them have stated how much the team feels like a “family” and they use that sense of teamwork to their advantage.
“I think one of our biggest strengths is the familiarity with everyone. Everyone is comfortable, the players know their strengths, they know their weaknesses and I think also the experience of having been to a final four will help us this year,” Barandica-Hamilton said. “I think also there is that winning desire to take it to the next level; there is an eagerness and wanting to see how good we can be.”
With another year of experience and an already complete roster from top to bottom, there isn’t really a weakness anywhere in the Huskies’ line-up. With a good crop of reserves that could easily start on any other team in the country, the depth of this team makes them that much better. With such a talented group of players, they will surely push each other to be better every single day in practice.
Even with such a solid group of players, Barandica-Hamilton knows that nothing comes easy, especially in the ultra-competitive Canada West conference.
“Being able to perform on an everyday basis is key in this conference. CanWest is by far the toughest conference in Canada and every weekend you have to show up. Having that consistency in our play will be key,” Barandica-Hamilton said.
Barandica-Hamilton is excited about the line-up he has for the upcoming season.
“On the defensive side, our captain Meagan Manson plays hard every single game and you know you’re going to get an honest effort. Erica Parenteau is another player who likes to go on the attack and help out defensively. Kelly Cerkwoniak is a fifth-year, she’s very active and finds pockets well and she’s very technically sound.
“Attacking-wise you have Erica Hindmarsh, Jenelle Zapski — who had a phenomenal year last year — Leesa Eggum and Rita Fetch; there’s variety. We’re hitting a point where we’re eager to get going and start playing some games.”
The women’s season gets underway on Sept. 12 with a home game versus the University of Manitoba Bisons. On Sept. 13 they will do battle with the University of Winnipeg Wesmen, with both games set to kick off at 12:00 p.m.