The building has begun.
This time, there’s a huge carrot dangling as motivation for members of the Douglas College women’s soccer team. The school will be the host of the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association’s 2018 women’s soccer championships.
That means an automatic berth but one they definitely do not want to waste.
Head coach Chris Laxton said the time will be spent preparing his players for the lengthy march – and ensuring the club continues its appearance streak at the nationals.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s an 18-month project with a big portion of it getting this year’s rookies ready for college-level play,” said Laxton.
There’ll be no “just-glad-to-be-here” thinking.
The Royals program, which has advanced to the nationals the past two seasons and collected bronze at last year’s championship, has two full seasons to use as it prepares for the 2018 nationals, which will be hosted at Town Centre Park, across from the Coquitlam campus.
But Laxton certainly isn’t looking past the coming season.
“If we can go to nationals this year, we get that much more experience, our players build that much more knowledge of what it takes at that level.”
Helping his cause is the fact the squad lost no players to graduation after last year’s bronze medal – which saw them outlast Alberta powerhouse NAIT Ooks in penalty kicks.
Defender Sonali Dholliwar and netminder Alexa Gazzola were selected as all stars.
While no one graduated, Laxton replenished his lineup with a nice score of recruits – forcing him to cut a handful of players.
After an active spring of training and exhibition tests, he’s pleased with the mix of returnees, including co-captains Michelle Wessa and Samantha Kell, and newcomers.
“As a fifth-year player (Wessa) brings a lot of experience and leadership,” said the coach. “She’s committed to helping us get to the nationals this year.
“(Kell) has really grown into her role here. Just watching her you can see the maturity and experience she’s gained.”
Of the incoming players, fullback Ashley Bristow and forward Martina Pettenon will lead a skilled rookie crop. The two spent the past few seasons with Mountain United of the BC Soccer Premier League.
“Each one of our recruits is unique and exciting,” said Laxton. “It’s important to bring in new players, and I think the eight we’ve added will make us stronger.”
The team will come together in August in preparation for the September season opener.