By Woodard, Dale on February 1, 2020.
The University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s soccer team just got stronger down the middle.
As the team continues to host its ID camp today, the Horns announced the signing of four midfielders Friday afternoon at the 1st Choice Savings Centre.
Joining the Pronghorns next fall will be Calgary products Maren Brown and Rylie Mooney, Lac La Biche resident Amy Kryvenchuk and Hailey Slobodian from East St. Paul, Manitoba.
The newest foursome come from the same position, yet different backgrounds.
In the case of Slobodian, a different province entirely as the product of Manitoba brings her game west and into southern Alberta.
“I’m really excited to take my soccer to the next level and the opportunity to further my studies,” said Slobodian.
She’s new to the area, but not the calibre of soccer she’s stepping up to.
In fact, Slobodian has tested herself against some Canada West teams from her home province.
“I don’t think it will be too much of a jump,” said the five-foot-three combo midfielder/striker and member of the Valour FC Elite program. “I’ve watched university games at home watching the University of Manitoba and watching the University of Winnipeg play. Sometimes my club team scrimmaged against them and we beat them before, so I don’t think it will be too bad.”
In anticipation of stepping it up to the Canada West in the fall, Slobodian kept busy with three teams, one of which went to Nationals in October.
Unfortunately, Slobodian – who will pursue a law degree at the U of L – didn’t get to make the trip.
“I fractured my foot the week before so I didn’t get to go,” she said, adding the injured foot is better now. “I’ve been back at it for a few weeks now.”
The foot incident aside, Pronghorns head coach Ilsa Wong anticipated the Manitoba product bringing some speed to the lineup.
“She’s very fast,” said Wong. “She needs to work on some of the game intelligence, but but they all do. With the style of play we’re looking to play right now she can instantly fit in on the flanks and maybe even upfront. She’s a goal scorer. That’s definitely what we need and at some point we definitely see her putting some in the back of the net.”
Kryvenchuk brings the northern Alberta presence to the Pronghorns.
Another midfielder, Kryvenchuk played with the Lakeland program and has been a member of two provincial championship teams. She also travelled into the Edmonton area to play with the Spruce Grove Saints.
“I’m very excited,” said Kryvenchuk. “The team has been very welcoming, with the coaching staff, I’m very excited and looking forward to it. I really like the welcoming atmosphere, they made me feel at home and I like the city.”
Kryvenchuk now takes her extensive experience with two clubs last season to the Canada West ranks.
“I think it’s going to be a bit faster, but I’m excited,” she said. “It’ll be a good challenge which is what I’m looking for.”
Kryvenchuk brings a game to the Horns that will provide Wong with a number of options on where to put her on the field.
“Amy is very strong and comes from a youth program where she has played lots of positions and that her versatility will be important for us,” said Wong. “She plays with both feet really well and she’s learning the game at this level. So I can foresee her being a contributor.”
Brown, a five-foot-eight midfielder comes to the Pronghorns from the South West United Club program and played last year with the Callies Major in the Albert Major Soccer League.
Fellow Calgary product Mooney played for the Blizzards Club program and will be another addition to the middle of the field for the Pronghorns.
Mooney plans to pursue a degree in sciences with the ambition to go to veterinarian school after obtaining her science degree.
“Riley is fast and strong with decent technical skills. She’s going to be important for us through the middle of the pitch,” said Wong. “Maren will develop over time, she’s got some good size. She comes from a good pedigree. She’s also a runner. So she has done some track and field work, so once we start getting the technical pieces in with her she has a lot of potential for the future.”
The Pronghorns wrap up their ID camp with a session this morning from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the University of Lethbridge Stadium.
“Right now in our ID camp we have 26 players,” said Wong. “We have a handful from the 2020s and a lot from 2021 and 2022. So we’ve seen some pretty solid players. We’re anticipating maybe signing two or three out of that as well
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