The St. Thomas University women’s soccer team will be heading to nationals this week in Halifax thanks to their win over the University of Kings Collage, in a close and tough match. The Tommies shutout Kings College 1-0 to claim the title of Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association champions.
This is the first time since 1999 that the women have won the ACAA championships. The Tommies current assistant coach, Amy Whytewood-Huges, was on the winning Tommies team that year.
Hughes decided to reach out to her former teammates of that season and asked them to send the girls some inspirational messages. She read the messages before the ACAA semi-final and final match.
“They put so much time into coaching and they don’t have to, they really go the extra mile,” said wing Sarah Hickman.
“Everything that they do is to help us grow.”
“I think we get more from our coaches than most of the league does,” said centre mid field Katie MacDermaid.
Hickman, MacDermaid and mid field Nikita McCartney all praised the coaching staff, Michelle DeCourcey, Hughes, John-Ryan Morrison and the rest of those who work with the team on a regular basis.
At the beginning of the season the women were nationally ranked. They managed to stay nationally ranked for six weeks, but then lost a few games causing them to be bumped off the list.
“I think it went to our heads a little bit. The list really meant nothing, but I don’t think we thought that until after we were off it,” saidd MacDermaid.
Along with being nationally ranked, the Tommies also had six first-year students added to the roster.
“We all really clicked together, we all really bonded early in the season which helped us,” said MacDermaid.
“I think we started our season off really strong, which gave us a lot of confidence,” said Hickman.
“Going into the start of the season we weren’t expecting to do as well as we did.”
The Tommies ended the regular season with a record of 5-4-3.
Before the ACAA game that clinched the women’s spot in nationals, they admitted that they weren’t nervous at all playing for the title.
“John [Morrison] said they shouldn’t be nervous they should be excited because we’re prepared. We knew we could do it, we knew we had the ability, we knew we had the potential all along,” said MacDermaid.
They all agree the game was played hard and wasn’t a pretty one.
When being asked what it took to get to nationals, MacDermaid said, “We took [it] one game at a time. We took who we were going to play that weekend, their strengths, their weaknesses. Going into playoffs we changed our strategy a little bit.”
The Tommies expressed that they’re very excited to be headed to nationals this week and wanted to give a huge thank you to fans, coaches and everyone who has helped them to get to nationals.
DeCourcey is very excited that the team will get to experience nationals this year. She believes if the team keeps up what they did in the previous games, they’ll win nationals.
“In order to succeed at Nationals, we’ll have to stay focused on the process and not worry too much about the end result, as we have been all season,” said DeCourcey.
“We’ll need to play to our strengths — we have a strong defensive core, a creative midfield and some speedy attackers. If we put in the work defensively and choose our moments to attack as a team wisely, we should be successful.”
The team was honored on Saturday during the basketball doubleheader.
“Honestly, I think we’re just going into with an open mind,” said MacDermaid when asked about her goals for nationals.
Hickman has similar goals for nationals.
“We’re not really expecting too much, we’re just hoping to fun have and play our best.”