The Univerisity of Saskatchewan women’s soccer team shares one thing with all the other Huskies teams, and that is that they are just happy to be back.
This group has been preparing for their first game back on the pitch for a few weeks now, but in their minds, they have been preparing for their first game back for over 18 months.
“I think that game is going to be played at a thousand miles an hour,” head coach Jerson Barandica-Hamilton said.
“I think it’s going to be more about letting our quality shine. To be excited, but to play to our level and to our ability.”
The thing that stands out about this year’s team is the returning fifth-year players. There are five of them that altered their academic schedules and for all intents and purposes their lives to return to play their fifth year to make it a wrap on playing as rookies together and play their final game together.
“When it was iffy, what was happening, everyone was saying that we have to stick it out,” Huskies fifth-year player Jadyn Steinhauer said.
“Stay in it together, you guys. Like we have to do our last season together, and finish strong.”
“Thinking about COVID ruining that fifth year for me, it wasn’t even an option,” fifth-year Huskie Taneil Gay added. “Being part of this family for a fifth year, there was no question that I was going to stay.”
“I wouldn’t get any closure if I put on the jersey for the last time without knowing it, that didn’t sit well with me,” said fellow fifth-year Maya Gabruch. “I didn’t remember my last bus trip with the girls, so I just needed some closure.”
“It was just a really special thing for all five of us to decide to do together again instead of just moving on,” said fifth-year Hannah Zdunich-Costa.
And Kalli Cowles, also a fifth-year returning Huskie, said, “I was thinking also that this group of fifth years came in as rookies when we went to nationals for the first time. So it would just be amazing if we could do nationals again.”
And all the commitment by the fifth years hasn’t gotten lost on the rest of the team or their head coach.
“We are just so grateful to have them here,” Barandica-Hamilton added. “For them to be present, and happy we can have a season for them, and really we are playing for them, almost like team Canada was playing for Sinclair.”
The Huskies women’s soccer team opens their season in Winnipeg, versus the Wesmen on Sept. 11.