It is the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s soccer team’s first Pacific Western Athletic Association banner since 2003/04.
It is also an accomplishment local soccer player Laura Smylie will relish in for some time to come.
Smylie, a second-year player on the team, and the Wolfpack beat the Univeristy of British Columbia Okanagan Heat (UBCO) 2-1 in overtime on Oct. 30 to capture the gold.
“It was quite a close game because we play quite similar styles of soccer,” the 150 Mile House native said. “UBCO is a really great team and they move the ball around quickly. They’re clinical in everything they do.”
The WolfPack are on a hot streak as of late and are unbeaten in their last 13 games — something Smylie attributes to work ethic.
“I just think that’s an accomplishment in itself,” she said. “It’s an amazing feeling. Everyone on our team has put in so much hard work and it’s just really paid off. It was the best game we’ve played season. All the girls brought their all and gave it their best fighting effort.”
Smylie, normally used to finding the back of the net as a striker throughout her soccer career, was thrust into unfamiliar territory by Wolfpack coach Tom McManus at the start of this season.
An early season concussion to the team’s starting sweeper, Sarah Gomes, left Smylie to fill in at her defensive position.
“I hadn’t played sweeper since I was 12, and even then it wasn’t at a very high calibre,” Smylie said. “Tom put me back there and it actually went pretty well. It was a learning experience for me all season. Every practice I just went in all ears.”
Smylie’s efforts were rewarded in the PacWest quarterfinal where she scored a goal off a corner kick, and a goal in the shootout versus the Quest Kermodes en route to a 3-2 win.
The WolfPack and Smylie now advance to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association soccer championships from Nov. 9-12 at College Francois-Xavier-Garneau in Quebec.
“It’s going to be tough,” she said. “It’s the best teams from every province so I’m expecting really high calibre soccer, but the group of girls we have are just outstanding.
“It will be a true test of who we are as a team to see what we can do and I’m just excited to see if we can prove ourselves on that scale.”