Somewhere between Melissa's 10 km Road Race and the distance Mao Tse Tung walked on the Long March lies a road of indeterminate length. With two games under their early season belts, the Dinosaurs women's soccer team is ready to find out just how far the road to Canada West respectability can stretch. After a weekend of tough love at the hands of their British Columbia counterparts, the Dinos know they have a long way to go before they sleep, but they're also confident they can make it home before it gets dark.
Opening the season against the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria on their home fields is never an exciting proposition. A decidedly less exciting proposition would be losing those games 1-0 to ubc and 2-0 to UVic. Unfortunately, the lady soccersaurs managed both on the weekend.
"UBC and Vic will probably battle for the top spots in the conference, so we definitely got thrown into a tough part of the season right off the bat," explained Head Coach Robin Slot. "We did show some improvements over the weekend. The big difference was they put in their chances and we didn't."
Aside from the stiff West Coast competition the Dinos also faced potential adversity from inexperience in their own net. However, like the surprisingly good goalkeeper she turned out to be, converted striker Tammy Wilson stepped in to save the day.
"I did the best I could, but to be honest, I missed playing out," confessed Wilson. "I'll do it for now because the team needs it, but I'm not sure it's for me."
"We were definitely a little worried going in, but our goaltending turned out to be one of the stronger points of the weekend," elaborated veteran forward Stephanie O'Neill.
Being a striker, Tammy's naturally very quick, which helps her a lot. One of the goals was a penalty shot that was questionable at best, and the other ones she really made them earn."
Despite the accolades, the modest Wilson is somewhat reluctant to sign any goaltending deal in pen. Meanwhile, with only a handful of veteran players leading the way, Slot can only cross his fingers and hope the rest of the young squad is cursed with as much talent as Wilson.
If the Dinos are to find their way back into the Canada West finals, the trail will have to be blazed by two time All-Canadian and former Canada West University Athletics Association player of the year Stephanie O'Neill. A current member of the Canadian National soccer team, O'Neill, who incidentally is only four goals shy of breaking Melanie Blair's all-time goal tally for Dinos women's soccer, couldn't be more suited to the job.
"Stephanie has been a great credit to the program. She never stops trying and her dedication and commitment is outstanding," praised Slot. "Obviously, she's going to be one of the people we look to lead us into the playoffs and eventually the cw finals."
The road to the finals for the 0-2 Dinos starts this weekend when they host a double bill against the University of Alberta and the University of Saskatchewan.
"With the rule change allowing four of the six teams into the playoffs, we're not going to hit the panic button if things don't go that well this weekend," stated a cautious Slot. "We're young and I'm seeing improvement with every game- against B.C. and Vic we had our chances and didn't capitalize. It's when you stop creating chances that you have to worry. Ultimately, all we're looking for is to be there for the playoffs when it matters."
With Bears, Dogs, Horns, Birds and a hoard of screaming Vikettes cluttering the CW highway, traveling will not be easy. Hopefully, the Dinos are able to shirk off a slow start and hit the left lane in the weeks to come.