The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s soccer team can lay claim to being the fourth best program in the country for 2011.
The Wolfpack, helped by a strong defensive performance from 150 Mile House’s Laura Smylie, finished fourth at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championships in Quebec City over the weekend.
They fell 3-0 in the bronze-medal match to the Ahuntsic Indiennes of Montreal.
When the ‘Pack arrived at the Elans Stadium at Francois-Savier-Garneau on Saturday they were greeted to chilly winds. By the end of the match the winds were accompanied by snow.
“Both teams had to play in the poor weather and had to deal with the adversity,” said TRU’s lone fifth-year player Ashley Piggot of Prince George.
“I think we were a little tired and flat and they definitely came at us. At the end of the first half we began to wake up but they definitely took it to us.”
WolfPack head coach Tom McManus said they simply weren’t able to get the ball to the outside of the field regularly enough.
“I thought we did well at times but we were missing linking up,” McManus said. “That was our biggest problem today. We were trying to get it out wide and it didn’t work.”
McManus said he felt the play of his back four — Smylie (sweeper), Maddy Reid, Vanessa Zilke and Madison Wells — was inspiring and steady throughout the championships.
“I thought they were phenomenal,” he said.
“They did the business for me from day one of the season.
“Laura Smylie was a rock back there. She took a pretty bad kick to the achilles [Friday, a 2-0 loss to F.X. Garneau] and went in and worked hard.”
Smylie said despite the loss in the bronze-medal match there were a lot of positives to take away from the tournament.
“I am happy we came fourth,” she said. “It’s never fun to lose a game. But when you look at the big picture, coming fourth in the country is something to be very proud of.
“Gold, silver or bronze would have been nice but fourth is OK and I am proud to be on this team.”
Due to injuries that TRU suffered during the course of the year all four back line players were forced to adjust to new positions.
Smylie, a striker her entire career, filled in at the sweeper position this year and admitted she has come to like her new spot.
“I really actually like sweeper,” she said. “It’s quite a shock.
“I like being back there and seeing the whole field and seeing the play progress. I think it shows a lot that we all stepped up and played a different position when we suffered injuries. No one complained about not playing their position.
“It was like, ‘OK, this is where I am and let’s give it my all and give it my best.’”