After a fourth place finish in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Women’s Soccer South Division last season, Head Coach Esad Elkaz and the Red Deer College Queens feel they have made the necessary adjustments with their roster for an improved season.
This year, 19 talented student-athletes will comprise the Queens roster compared to 16 last year.
Third-year defender Jaden Humphrey, a Bachelor of Education Elementary student, has already seen a lot of confidence in each other which will be important moving forward. “Our ability to trust each other will be a key to our success this year,” says Humphrey. “If one person in our starting lineup gets hurt we don’t have to worry about who we are putting in to sub, and we can see that trust when we’re practicing.”
“I learned a lot from last year and it hurt not having enough players on the roster,” says Elkaz. “In an exhibition game against Augustana, I lost Haley Nassichuk-Dean, my only striker. Suddenly, we were focused more on defending than attacking because we lacked on offence, but this year that has changed a lot with our additions and returning players.”
Returning to the Queens are goalkeeper Erin Gill, defenders Jaden Humphrey, Bronwyn Pfeifle and Natasha Saleem, midfielders Kayla Yeo and Teryn Wright, and forward Haley Nassichuk-Dean.
“Our returning student-athletes are all good players and great leaders,” says Elkaz. “They bring so many positive aspects to the team this year.”
New to Queens Soccer this season, and playing in goal is Alethea Riemer. Kayla Nesseth, Rebecca McBride, Abbi Galloway and Lexi Kowalchuk will play defence. Taylor Pankiw, Mikayla Fujimoto, Ashley Thomson, Emily Richard and transfer Natalie Frenette from MacEwan University will suit up as midfielders. Alisha Coules, and former member of the Keyano College Huskies, Emilee Kronbauer, will join the forward ranks.
Eight of the new student-athletes are from central Alberta which creates a lot of familiarity between the players and coach.
“All of the new student-athletes are all well trained and have played in the competitive stream from U12 to U18,” said Elkaz. “The Queens who join us from central Alberta have had some tremendous coaches, and it is a huge benefit for me to know many of these players before. We don’t have to spend time concentrating on the basics and I believe that will put us one step ahead.”
2017-18 ACAC Women’s Soccer South All-Conference team selections Reesa Garez, Chelsea Webster and Krysten Strand are significant departures but a deeper roster could help the RDC Queens experience a more successful season.
As the Queens Soccer program grows, Elkaz is receiving interest from several prominent players around Alberta. “Last year, I built a team looking for quick success but I want to build a program and we are headed in the right direction. We are getting phone calls from Calgary and Edmonton from players who want to come to RDC,” says Elkaz. “Natalie Frenette was born in Red Deer and played in the Renegades program. She attended MacEwan University last year but wanted to come back home and we welcomed her with open arms. Emilee Kronbauer will join us this season from Keyano College and her training and work ethic is impressive. She was a first-year captain in Fort McMurray which is quite an accomplishment.”
Besides a deeper roster, Bronwyn Pfeifle, a second-year defender from Lacombe, likes the speed and comradery. “We are a fast paced team and everyone has quick feet,” says Pfeifle. “We seem to think one step ahead which will be a big advantage. Everyone had a connection right away and we do things together off the field as well.”
The speed, talent and depth of the RDC team has already been evident. In five non-conference games, the Red Deer College Queens earned a 4-1 record. They defeated The King’s University Eagles 3-1, cruised past the University of Alberta Augustana Vikings 5-0, blanked the Keyano College Huskies 3-0, earned a 3-1 victory over the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves and dropped a 3-0 decision to the Concordia Thunder.
The regular season will begin at home on Saturday, September 8 at 12:00 p.m. against the Ambrose University Lions. For more information on Queens Soccer, the student-athletes, and recaps, please visit: rdcathletics.ca.
-Submitted by RDC Athletics