Last year’s edition of the Red Deer College Queens soccer team managed to turn more than a few heads with their play in the ACAC.
With 12 rookies and four veterans on the squad the Queens worked themselves into the playoffs and finished only a single point out of second place behind a very strong Medicine Hat team.
“They bonded quickly and played their hearts out,” said head coach David Colley.
He gave credit to his assistant coaches for understanding what the makeup of this team was and what needed to be done to get them playing as a unit quickly.
“All we did last year was passing drills and switching drills, a little bit of fitness and then we played as many scrimmages as we could just to get people used to playing the system and that seemed to pay off for us.”
Fast forward to 2014 and Colley is faced with a different deck of cards to play with this year.
The Queens will see five players return from 2013 but Colley says there are others coming in who will bring with them some valuable experience despite not being on the Queens roster last year.
Two familiar faces from a couple of years ago are back at RDC in the form of mid-fielder Moira Duley and goal keeper Lauren Good, who played with the University of Calgary last year.
“I’ve also got three players coming in from Olds who played last year including their captain (Jessica White),” he said.
In addition to those players, Colley says there are a couple of others who played at the major league soccer level and one girl coming in from Lakeland College so he can field a team with 13 players with far more experience than last year’s team.
Once all these pieces of the soccer puzzle are put together the Queens appear to have some solid forwards, defence and goaltending as they enter into the season so Colley is optimistic.
“They’ve all done the traveling, a lot of them have done the preseason buildup, they understand just how tight the preseason is and what you’ve got to do and how quickly you have to come together.”
Colley said the need to gel almost immediately is huge because after two weeks of league play there are four games already in the books before you know it.
Last year the Queens had their hands full with Medicine Hat and Colley expects things will be about the same this year as he figures the Rattlers will be an improved team as well.
Medicine Hat is hosting nationals this year so he feels the coaching staff there will have had a busy summer recruiting players in order to be competitive .
Athletic programs aside, Colley feels academics might also play a role in attracting players to the college down south.
“If you are hosting nationals you’ve already got a place in nationals. Any player who is taking a course which is held at Medicine Hat or elsewhere I think would be leaning more towards Medicine Hat.”
The Queens will host the Rattlers right off the bat on the first weekend of play which will be a good test for both units, said Colley.
Starting the year with a pair of home games might seem like the best way to get things going but Colley has a different view of the kick-off to the year.
“I always find being on the road early in the season very, very helpful because it bonds the team even more because you’ve got to travel together, you’ve got to live together and you’ve got to do your homework and all the rest of it.”
The Queens play the Rattlers Sept. 6th and Lethbridge Sept. 7th.