The 2020 soccer season was supposed to be a big one for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s team. An intriguing mix of young talent and veteran savvy, the squad was poised to contend for a Canada West championship.
But with the season cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Huskies won’t get that chance.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, especially for the players who were hoping to close out their university careers with a bang this fall.
“We’ve been building this team for a long time coming and we had a lot of fifth-years so I think everybody was super excited to get into it,” said forward Maya Gabruch, who is one of those fifth-year players.
The Huskies’ reigning scoring champ, whose nine goals tied for second-most in the conference in 2019, Gabruch had high hopes for her final season, but when the plug was pulled in June those plans were thrown into disarray.
“I wanted to finish my fifth year with all my fellow rookies that I came in with so (when the season was cancelled) I was just reaching out to all my teammates and I just wanted to know if they had a plan or if they were going to eventually finish off their fifth years so we could all do it together,” she said.
Like hundreds of other student-athletes now facing the prospect of a lost season, Gabruch is now trying to figure out what comes next. With no conference play this season she gets to retain her final year of eligibility even while training with the Huskies, but due to her future academic plans, she doesn’t know when — or even if — she will ever get to use that final year.
“This year I’m planning on finishing up my (kinesiology) degree and then applying into medicine for the next year,” she said.
“So everything’s kind of up in the air and I won’t know until I find out if I get in or not, because then I’ll have to decide if I can balance soccer and school at the same time.”
It’s a dilemma the graduate of Saskatoon’s Bishop J. Mahoney high school never imagined she would have to face, but as she weighs her options, Gabruch is finding some relief in finally being able to get back on the field with her teammates.
“I think it really calmed us a lot. Just this time has been so uncertain that the first practice back, we were so excited just to see each other face to face,” she said.
Gabruch also sees a potential silver lining in what the future may hold for the Huskies, noting that the team’s roster could be even deeper when next season rolls around.
“We won’t be losing a lot of fifth-years but we’ll kind of be gaining two sets of incoming recruits for 2021 so we’ll have a lot of talent on our team.”
The big question right now is whether she will be along for the ride.