LANGLEY, British Columbia – The No. 3-ranked Trinity Western women’s soccer team opens its Canada West regular season this weekend at home, as last year’s Canada West silver-medallists launch their 2017 campaign with a rematch of the conference final against UBC Friday. The Spartans follow that up by taking on Victoria Saturday.
The Spartans, who are coming off an unbeaten 2016 regular season (11-0-3), are once again amongst the favourites to make a run at a national title with their ultimate sights set on a sixth U SPORTS championship.
Kick-off for all Spartans women’s soccer home games is at 5 p.m. (PT) at Chase Office Field.
Watch the Spartans all season long at home and on the road at the all-new CanadaWest.TV. Buy your TWU “School Pass” for just $44.99 and watch every Spartans game throughout the season.
COACH GRAHAM ROXBURGH:
“I’m really excited for this season. We’re a young group that has some players competing for positions that were vacated by graduated seniors. So, I’m excited to see what this group can do. Some of the players have to step up and fulfill senior roles. We’re looking forward to Rachel Hutchinson (Cloverdale, B.C.) being an attacking threat and obviously Seina (Kashima, Burnaby, B.C.) has been there before, but this year she’ll have more responsibility. I’m excited to have Jenaya (Robertson, Delta, B.C.) and Gabi Short (Calgary) come back from injury and I’m excited about the energy and enthusiasm of a young group.”
With the return of Christina Oliverio (Calgary) for her fifth year of eligibility, along with fourth-year Rachel Sydor (Tsawwassen, B.C.), the Spartans netminding duties are in good hands. Oliverio, who backstopped TWU to a Canada West title and a U SPORTS silver medal in 2014, and Sydor, who has quietly bided her time behind the likes of Ally Williamson and Rachel Bedek, are likely battle for starting duties throughout the year.
The Spartans back line has long been a strength of TWU’s team and this year is no different. Third-year Brooklyn Tidder (White Rock B.C.) and fourth-year Amy Gartke (Edmonton) will anchor the defence, while second-year players Kristen Sakaki (Burnaby, B.C.) and Elizabeth Hicks (Surrey, B.C.) will also be prominent figures. Look for the likes of Danielle Thune (Abbotsford, B.C.) and first-year Aliya Coy (Calgary) to also have a hand in solidifying the back end.
Jenaya Robertson and Kathleen Chin (Calgary), the latter of which missed most of last year with an injury, will once again patrol the middle of the park, while fourth-year Leanne Verhoeff (Calgary) will also play a key role in the midfield. With Gabi Short keen to make her Spartans debut after missing all of last year due to injury, the Spartans will be well-equipped in the midfield.
Up front, Rachel Hutchinson, who led the team in assists (seven) and points (10) and Seina Kashima will lead the Spartans offensive surge. Hutchinson, who was the Canada West and U SPORTS Rookie of the Year in 2015, has consistently shown her point-collecting prowess, while Kashima was a Canada West First Team All-Star last year and is only getting better. The Spartans will have to fill the eight-goal void left by the now-graduated Isabella Di Trocchio (Burnaby), but with the aforementioned duo, along with Danae Derksen (Delta, B.C.) and Kathryn Harvey (Coquitlam, B.C.), who is in her second year of eligibilty after transfering from LIU Brooklyn, the Spartans will be in fine shape.
BY THE NUMBERS
2016 CW regular season record: 11-0-3, 1st in Pacific Division
2016 post-season record (CW and U SPORTS combined): 1-3, 2nd CW, 6th U SPORTS
Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2014 / 6
Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: 2013 / 5
2016 CW regular season ranks:
Offence: 31 goals, 3rd
Defence: 6 goals against, 1st
Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):Kathryn Harvey / 2nd / Coquitlam, B.C. / LIU Brooklyn
Kathryn Harvey / 2nd / Coquitlam, B.C. / LIU Brooklyn
Aliya Coy / D / 1st / Calgary / Centennial
Bella Roque / M/F / 1st / Surrey, B.C. / Holy Cross
Gina Minervini / M / 1st / Edmonton / St. Francis Xavier
Emily Killam / D / 1st / South Surrey, B.C. / Elgin Park