With their season opener scheduled for Sunday, the Centennial Colts women’s soccer team will need to come together quickly if they plan on making a splash in their short eight-game campaign in 2010.
In a final pre-season tune-up Friday evening in Scarborough, the Colts fell 3-0 to the Redeemer Royals in a one-sided affair.
Although the Colts failed to generate much offence throughout the match, they received timely goalkeeping from Amanda Shand and solid defensive play from Riley Pattison and Alyssa Cullen.
After wrapping up their three game pre-season schedule, Colts head coach Diarmuid O’Connor feels his squad is ahead of where the team has been in year’s past, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“The most glaring thing is our lack of fitness, which we need to correct,” he said. “We only have three or four weeks to correct this, so it’s not giving us much time.
The Colts will have to regroup quickly for their opener, as they will be faced with a stiff challenge when they go toe-to-toe with the Durham Lords, who have won four of the last seven championships.
Despite the task at hand, O’Connor sees this as a good test early in the season.
“It’s better to play a team like Durham in the first week because of their expectations,” he said. “They’ve played us for many years and have given us one or two hidings, so their expectations are to give us a hiding again.”
While that doesn’t sound too promising, it offers a good opportunity for many of the new players to show what they can bring to the table.
“It’s going to be a wakeup call,” said former player and current trainer Morgan Killham. “It’s really going show you who’s here to win, who’s here to be committed and who’s going to step up.”
There will be plenty of opportunities for those looking to make an impact as the Colts are returning only five players from a team that went 2-7-2 in 2009-10, including third-year defender, and captain, Natalie Musial who will be an important piece this season.
“She plays a very good leadership role in getting the girls going and getting the warm-ups going,” said Killham, who played with Musial last season.
“She brings a very positive, go get-em attitude, which is good to have back there especially when things are breaking down.”
But despite missing key players, O’Connor finds the greatest obstacle in the early going is to create effective chemistry amongst available players.
“The biggest challenge for a coach at the beginning of the season is to find a spot for each of the players that have the potential to have an impact for the team.”
Killham also acknowledged the problems involved with fielding a new squad.
“It’s going to be a lot of growing, figuring out who plays where, working as a team and getting in shape.”
When they take on the Lords on Sunday, the Colts will receive baptism by fire, but a good performance could do wonders for the team’s confidence moving forward.