The Kwantlen women’s soccer team is out to defend their provincial gold as they took on the Quest Kermodes in the provincial quarterfinals Friday.
The team won the BCCAA provincials last year and, led by first-year head coach Gordon Smith and first team all-stars Melina Gomez, Brittany McNeil and Shanay Sangha, finished second in league play this year.
Kwantlen is hosting the provincial tournament this year at the new turf fields at Newton Athletic Park in Surrey.
“League play has been really challenging this year. Apart from maybe one or two games, it has been hard fought and close all year,” Smith said.
Kwantlen finished the season with eight wins, three losses and one draw to finish seven points behind first-place UBC Okanagan in their division.
Kwantlen, however, has the advantage of having players on the team that have won a provincial championship before, and the team gets to play its provincial games on the home field at Newton Athletic Park.
“Having home field is huge. We don’t have to travel and we can stick to our normal routine and be well rested,” Smith said. “We’ve been successful all year at home. The field is bigger and wider, so it gives us more room to attack out wide.”
Kwantlen took on the Quest Kermodes in the quarterfinals on Friday. Kwantlen played Quest once this year coming away with a 1-0 victory in Squamish in October.
Quest finished third in the division, winning only three times all year, but Smith has warned his team about the dangers of taking a team lightly.
“They are a very good team. We’ve played them and they’re a disciplined, well defending team. They counter attack well and are good on set pieces. We are going to have to limit the number of free kicks we give them,” Smith said.
Kwantlen is led by three first-team all-stars: goalkeeper Melina Gomez, defender Brittany McNeil and midfielder Shanay Sangha. Sangha tied for fifth in the league for goals during league play this year with six, and Gomez and McNeil led a solid defense core for Kwantlen, which gave up only nine goals in 12 league games.
“It is very important that they continue to play at the highest level. They’ve been our most consistent players, but that being said we’ve gotten contributions from others (two rookies) that have been big,” Smith said.
The women’s semi-finals will take place this Saturday, Oct. 30 at noon, at Newton Athletic Park, and the bronze and gold medal games will take place at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 31 at Newton Athletic Park in Surrey.
“There’s an expectation,” says Gordon Smith, the new head coach of the Kwantlen Eagles women’s soccer team.
As a new season gets under way for the team there are high expectations. Last season, the team used penalty shootouts to power their way to a provincial title and a bronze medal finish at the nationals, the first national medal of any kind for Kwantlen.
But with only seven players from that championship team returning, it isn’t going to be easy and youth will be the highlight of the new squad.
The biggest hole for the Eagles to fill will be the 24×8-foot net at their end of the field. Last year’s starting goalkeeper, Amelia Ng, was the not only the team’s MVP, but also the provincial tournament’s MVP for her performance in the playoffs.
Filling Ng’s net will be new rookie recruit, Melina Gomez.
“I love it. Mo’s [Monivoi Vataiki] a good keeper, so I’m excited to be starting. I just have to keep practising hard and hopefully I’ll keep the starting position.”
Smith said they have challenged the other keepers to battle hard for the starting role but Gomez should continue to start for now.
Gomez looks to be just one part of the new youth movement for the team, which has 10 rookies on the roster. But, like any good team, the Eagles will rely heavily on their veterans to guide the team. That starts with their captain, defender Brittany McNeill, who looks to play an even larger role with the team this year.
“The returning players have a great work ethic and a great attitude and they want to win,” said Assistant Coach Joan McEachern, who has been with the team since 2003.
Both McEachern and Smith are confident of the team’s chances of success this year but are quick to point out that it will be no easy task, as there are a lot of good teams in the province.
“I was just thinking about that the other day: Who has repeated in the last four years? No one. It speaks volumes to the parity in the league,” said McEachern.
The last team to repeat as provincial champs was the Langara Falcons in ’06-’07. After becoming the first Kwantlen team to win a national medal, the Eagles are confident going into the ’10-’11 season.
“I think that everyone’s goal is to get to Nationals again… and see if we can catch lightning in a bottle again,” said Smith.
By Kyle Vinoly
It was a tense fourth quarter for the Kwantlen Eagle’s Women’s basketball team, as they defeated the Quest University Kermodes of Squamish 62-59 Friday. After dominating the first half of their match-up against Quest, competition heated up and the game came down to a nail-bitting final two minutes.
“Into the fourth quarter, we stopped playing defense,” said Eagle’s guard Emily Wright, who played 37 minutes and drained one of the trio of three-point shots made by the Eagles. “We always play well for the first three quarters and then the fourth quarter we don’t do well.”
Eagle’s coach Gary Pawluck said that the girls have had many close finishes this year but thinks it’s helped make them a better team.
“We came out with real intensity today,” said Pawluck. “We missed a few easy shots in the second half, and [Quest] stepped up and made some good shots.”
The women also faced off against Quest Saturday, in an attempt to secure a spot in the B.C. Provincial Championships. (Results will follow.)
“I don’t think anyone ever picked Kwantlen to make the playoffs, ever,” said Eagles forward Shmyla Thandi, who posted 11 points in the night and secured a double-double, getting 10 defensive rebounds. “It’s exciting, it motivates me for the next game.”
By Kyle Vinoly
A high-pressure free throw from Eagle’s guard Mike Davis sealed a win for the Eagle’s in the final 30 seconds of the fourth quarter of their Friday game against Quest University Kermodes of Squamish 65 to 64.
The Eagle’s were ahead by 10 points at the end of the first quarter but the men from Quest fought back in the second and third quarters. The lead changed 12 times before the Eagles finally won, 65-64.
In late October, the Kwantlen Eagles women’s soccer team made university history, making it to the provincial playoffs for the first time and then winning bronze in the toughly-fought finals. Jessica Rolli, who covered the women through the season, provides a photographic look back at some of the play that led to the team’s success.
Nobody scored on Sunday Oct.5, as the Kwantlen womenâ€™s soccer team played the Douglas Royals to a 0-0 draw on their home turf at the Tamanawis field in Surrey.
The Eagles may have been tired after a big win the day before against the Langara Falcons, during which Head Coach Vladimir Samozvanov said the team was more alive.
Still, Samozvanov said the result of the Sundayâ€™s game was positive. The women had a few chances during both the first and second half and continued to try their best.
The teams battled back and forth on the sunny fall afternoon with plenty of action in the middle of the field as each side played tug-o-war for control. What ground was gained for either side did not seem to kept for long.
In the second half of the game, Kwantlen used more of the field. Near the end of the second half, shouts of encouragement mingled with groans of disappointment could be heard as Reem Knyfatty, a first-year forward took a shot that drew the Douglas keeper out of the net. Jennifer Starheim, a Douglas forward, then took the play back to the Kwantlen end with a powerful kick.
â€œThere were more passing sequences in the second half,â€ said Natalie Therrien who is playing her first year of defense, but â€œcollectively the work ethic wasnâ€™t there.â€
She said the team was getting way better and â€œbeat the bestâ€ when they played the Falcons Saturday. The game Sunday felt like a lose because the teams in the league are neck-in-neck and, â€œIf we donâ€™t get the points from the easy teams than taking points from the hard teams doesnâ€™t really matter,â€ Therrien said.
The Royals and the Eagles each earned one point for the tie. The teams played two regular games last season, with one tie and one 2-0 loss for the Eagles
Next weekend, the women play the Vancouver Island University Mariners in Nanaimo.