By Kirk Jessome
With plenty of emerging young talent on their roster, the Tigers women’s soccer team is ready to kick off their 2019-20 regular season campaign.
With the graduation of last season’s scoring leader Jensen Hudder and captain Taylor Goodwin, much of the leadership burden upfront will fall onto the midfield pairing of Maya Venkataraman and Rachelle Lalande. Finishing last season with four goals last year, Venkataraman will likely be an even more aggressive offensive force for the Tigers this year.
Also helping out on the front end is a trio of sophomore strikers looking to follow up on strong rookie seasons in Josie Oickle, Riley Donovan and Sofia Nicolls. Sharing a lot of time off the bench behind Hudder, the three rookies each had impressive moments during the season quickly contributing to the Tigers offence.
Finally, the Tigers playmaking striker Haley Birrell returns for her third season after quietly padding her stats with great assists to her partner up front.
With Goodwin graduating, it will be up to Olivia MacIntyre and Sydney Kenney to command a fairly young back-line. The pair will have the help of Paige Jamieson, who is a very strong presence from the midfield into the defensive end.
The keeper position will be an interesting one to keep an eye on as the season unfolds. With four keepers on the roster in Karina Koepke, Annabel Gravely, Devon Bode and Adele Arsenault, no one in the young group has made a regular season start for the Tigers before so there is an opportunity for one to rise up and stand out as a starter.
The Tigers have added a fairly large recruiting class to other positions as well. With veterans taking up the regular starting positions in the midfield, Alyson Bodner and Morgan Leon will have time to develop in the program, which bodes well for the Tigers future.
Meanwhile, Kaitlyn Woodworth and Jaydn Cowie will be able to fight for time amongst a young group at the striker and defender positions respectively.
"We are excited about the mix of senior and new faces and the way they have prepared for the season," says head coach Cindy Tye. "It has been our most competitive training camp in a few years and we look forward to watching them progress throughout the season."
After exiting the AUS playoffs in the quarter-final for consecutive years, the Tigers are looking to extend their run deeper, and make a push toward the championship. They begin that run on Friday when they take on Moncton before their home opener on Sunday against Acadia at 1pm on Wickwire Field.