As the summer winds down, the grass turns yellow and students prepare to hit the books, the 2000/01 athletic season is beginning at the University of Calgary. One of the teams about to make their debut is the Dinos women's soccer team, who are looking to win their first two games of the season at home this weekend.
The team had a solid season last year; their 5-3-2 record gave them a share of third place in the tough Canada West Conference. Due to the University of Saskatchewan's automatic playoff spot as hosts and an unfavourable tie-break situation, the Dinos missed the playoffs by the narrowest of margins.
Coach Robin Slot sees this season as redemption time and looks to start the year with a good showing against the U of S and the University of Alberta, this weekend's rivals.
"I think the girls want to prove they are better than they were last year," he remarked. "And after our first two pre-season games [both wins, 2-1 and 4-1], I think we're pretty positive and confident in our abilities."
One of the problems plaguing last year's team was their lack of scoring so the emphasis this season is on getting the ball in the net. However, their two exhibition wins this season saw a combined six goals for the Dinos, so their new system seems to be getting results.
"Our defence and goaltending was proven last season and if we can put the ball in the net we will be very strong," said Slot. "This team can go all the way, but everything has to come together and we have to stay injury free."
"We have a young team, but a good team," he remarked. "If we work hard we can play with anybody."
Team captain and fifth-year player Juliamai Giffen will be the main source of leadership, but Coach Slot is looking for all the veterans to contribute and create a positive atmosphere for the younger players.
Fourth-year midfielder Laura Stinson shares her coach's confidence.
"We've had a positive pre-season this year," she remarked. " We learned our new system and we scored some goals. Our team is young but very skilled, so we should do pretty well."
The Dinos have the tools and the enthusiasm to have a very successful season. There are only three playoff spots in Canada West this year, but if the Dinos can score some goals and play the same tough defence that saw them never lose by more than a goal last year, the team will be one to watch.