June 22nd, 2024

Kodiaks enjoying lots of roster options

By Dale Woodard on September 16, 2021.

The Lethbridge College Kodiaks women’s soccer team likes their options.

What’s better, there are many.

After a year away in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kodiaks open the 2021 Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season on the road Friday as they head to Red Deer to take on the Queens.

They’re back at the Servus Sports Centre for their home opener Sunday at 2 p.m. when the Olds Broncos pay a visit.

With the Queens first up Friday afternoon, Kodiaks co-head coach Mark Pries noted a roster full of players he and fellow co-coach Sean Carey can send in at any time.

“We have a lot more depth,” he said. “We have a lot of options coming off the bench, for sure. If we need to make a change, we can make a change and feel confident in the abilities of the girls coming on. We’re deep down the middle and have lots of options. It’s tough for us as a coaching staff on who is going to get the start, but that’s up to the girls to go and earn.”

For third-year middle Olivia DePasquale, a little competition for game time never hurt anyone.

“No one guaranteed a specific spot on the field and no one is guaranteed playing time,” she said. “You’re always coming to practice to prove yourself, not only to your teammates, but the coaches (as well) to show you deserve the spot on the team and on the field. Even the girls who don’t get the opportunity to play as much, they’re always there to support everybody who is getting to play and everybody is always positive on and off (the field).”

Now a Kodiaks veteran, DePasquale recalled coming into her rookie season and the uncertainty she faced, but also how she eventually earned her playing time.

She now passes that experience on to her teammates.

“My first year I came in nervous because I didn’t know what to expect,” said DePasquale. “I didn’t play as high a level of soccer as some of the girls coming into the program, so I had to push myself to get my starting position and I tell the girls that all the time. You have to be confident in the way you play and confident in the abilities you know you have to get your outcome. I’ve told the girls to always push themselves to that next level”

No matter who gets the start Friday, the Kodiaks are back on the pitch for the first time in almost two years.

“I’m honestly so excited and I can tell everyone else is excited, too, to finally get back into the swing of things,” said DePasquale, whose team started workouts back in July. “We’ve worked hard so these past few months and even all last year. We put in so much effort even though we knew we weren’t going to have a season. So we’re all just extremely pumped to go out there and lay it all out on the field Friday.”

After back-to-back provincial bronze medals, the Kodiaks come into the season looking to move up the medal ranks.

“For the girls in the 2018 season, the bronze was a huge step for the program,” said DePasquale. “In our last season it was kind of disappointing, it wasn’t the same feeling. But this year we’re definitely pushing for that gold medal and a trip to nationals. With the talent we have on this team I can definitely see us going there.”

Pries said the coaching staff wouldn’t set the goal of an ACAC gold medal if they didn’t think the players were up for it.

“We always want to improve as the year goes on. To get to the bronze was an accomplishment, but the goal is to go forward. So our next goal is to get to that gold medal game and anything can happen in that game,” he said. “They (veterans) talk to all the girls all the time about it. They want to improve, too. We’ve said bronze is great, but right now for our squad we want improve and now it’s time for gold. We always put in the expectations that fit the squad. If we didn’t believe they could make it we wouldn’t ask them to do it.”

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