Women's Soccer Finding Its Stride

By Brooke Grantham

Women's soccer doesn't have a glorious past at the U of S, or even much of a history at all. The team finished fourth in the five-team Canada West division last year. But this year's team plans to change that.

"We're in a good situation with returning athletes-probably the best situation we've been in for a while," said team manager Sherri Millham.

The most significant of these returning athletes is national calibre goalkeeper Samantha Simpson. She played in the 1993 World University Games, and has just missed making the national squad the last two years. At the season's first practice, Simpson could be heard shouting suggested plays to her scrimmage teammates from the goal, part of her job as a goalkeeper, she said, because she can see the whole field. She is also seen as a team leader.

"I just feel like I have experiences that I can offer them,having been through part of the national team training."

In addition to Simpson, the team's defensive core of Becky Maranda, Lara Guzik and Kara Sutton is intact.

"That's going to put us very strong at the back with the three returning defencemen and Samantha in goal," said Millham.

This will also be the team's second year with Keith Pritchardat the helm. He spent 5 years coaching the at the University of Calgary before being hired by the Saskatchewan Soccer Association last year as a high performance coach. Other duties kept him away from this season's first Huskies practice.

"Last year when he came aboard... he presented a whole new system to us," said Garnette Smith, a 5th year mid-fielder. "Instead of playing a typical 4-4-2, we were playing a 3-5-2(three full-backs, five half-backs and two strikers)."

She said the change was a difficult adjustment at first, but now the veterans know the more offensive setup well. "I think we'll be a strong contender." With 11 returning athletes and a host of strong rookies,"there's going to be some stiff competition for positions," team manager Millham said, adding that if a rookie deserves a starting slot, they'll get it.