In their first game at the CCAA women's soccer championship on Wednesday, the TRU WolfPack hit a wall late due to fatigue from travelling all the way to Cornwall, P.E.I., and having to deal with the time change.
By Friday, the WolfPack had adjusted and was in top form as the Pacific Western Athletic Association champions scored three goals in a 27-minute span of the first half en rout e to a 4-0 victory over the Elans de Cegep Garneau, the two-time defending national champions. Going into the tournament, the Elans were seeded No. 1, with the WolfPack at No. 3.
"We just want to go home with a medal," said striker and CCAA All-Canadian Alanna Bekkering, "and we know we can fight for that. We all wanted to fight all along, but we got our rest and we all played our parts today.
"It was awesome. Not to beat them 1-0, but 4-0."
The WolfPack can win that medal today when it meets the ACAC-champion NAIT Ooks of Edmonton in the third-place game. The Ooks are the second seed. The game is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Pacific time.
The championship game will feature the No. 6 Indiennes d'Anhuntsic of Montreal against the No. 5 Concordia Thunder. The Indiennes beat the WolfPack 4-0 in that Wednesday opener.
TRU's offensive outburst yesterday was a product of his team getting rested, said head coach Tom McManus.
"The first day, we were dog tired," he stated. "Thursday, we had the chances, but we didn't get the goals. Today, I said we're going to get the goals, and it came true."
On Thursday, the WolfPack beat the Atlantic-champion Mount Saint Vincent Mystics, 1-0.
After an evenly matched opening 15 minutes yesterday, Kelsey Martin broke through for TRU in the 16th minute, blasting a drive from well outside the 18-yard box that went over the head of keeper Charlotte Boudreau to give the WolfPack a 1-0 lead.
"I just got the ball halfway between centre and the 18-yard box," Martin said. "I just turned and saw the goalie was out a bit. I just hit it hard and it went over her into the net."
Bekkering added to the lead six minutes later with a great individual effort to cut through the Garneau defence before converting from about 12 yards out.
The WolfPack has been strong scorers all season, Bekkering said.
"All our forwards and midfielders are really strong. We're just always able to find those through balls and gaps and find weaknesses in the opposing team," she said.
Martin then scored her second of the game from in close in the 43rd minute to give the WolfPack a 3-0 lead going into halftime.
Garneau came out flying in the second half, but WolfPack keeper Emily Edmundson made several key saves, including one on CCAA All-Canadian Joelle Gosselin just 17 seconds into the half.
"It's the best game she's played for TRU in three years. She was phenomenal," McManus said.
Edmundson credited the defence playing in front of her.
"They definitely stepped it up over the last couple days," she said. "The defence were phenomenal, everybody was able to clear the ball and block shots, so I was really proud of them."
It took a few minutes for the WolfPack to settle down, but Edmundson was a stabilizing factor, coming up big when she had to.
Edmundson said her positioning was a big reason she was able to stop everything that came her way.
The WolfPack iced it in the 82nd minute when Bekkering made a strong run down the left wing. Boudreau came out to challenge her, but instead of shooting, Bekkering found Amanda Barrett coming down the middle of the field. Bekkering crossed it over to her, and Barrett put it in the wide open net to round out the scoring.
As for today, McManus said TRU just needs to play its own game.
"We're going to come out and play a possession-style game to try and open them up," he said. "The girls are very talented. I've watched NAIT play a couple times, they have some excellent players. We'll come out and see what we can do."
- Compiled from TRU and CCAA news releases