With enough for two teams, St. Mary soccer program possesses strength in number

Gary Pearson
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Veteran St. Mary centre-back Meagan Manson makes a sublime last-ditch slide tackle during Wednesday's tryout. Herald photo by Gary Pearson

--PRINCE ALBERT-- St. Mary soccer program possesses strength in numbers St. Mary only has one day left to prepare for soccer season’s opening tournament, but if Wednesday’s tryout is any indication, appear to be in good stead.

“This year is really exciting because we have enough to make two teams, which we have never had before at St. Mary,” said head coach Jamie Zurakowski, whose reign on the sidelines this season extends to an impressive 14 years. “When I started here I could barely scrap together a team.”

Zurakowski this season faces no such dilemma. In fact, she may be beset by a problem opposite in nature. About 40 girls took to the pitch for tryouts on Wednesday afternoon, leaving Zurakowski facing decisions of whom to cut and whom to keep for the top squad.  

Those missing out on playing first-team soccer are all but guaranteed a spot on the reserve team, which will compete in the same tournaments the first team does.

“We are only allowed to register one team to go to provincials,” said Zurakowski. “So our B team will be more like a feeder team for the A’s.”

There are some problems plaguing the St. Mary squad, but nothing detrimental enough to sink the ship. Seven veterans graduated last year, leaving players like Meagan Manson to assert herself on the pitch.  

“I don’t really know what to expect because we lost a lot of seniors,” said 17-year-old Manson. “So, after this tournament we will see what happens.”

Manson plays club soccer for the Eastside Celtics who will compete in nationals in Fredericton, N.B., over Thanksgiving. Such pedigree is sure to bolster any chance St. Mary has of bettering last year’s bronze-medal performance.

The centre-back’s presence will surely solidify the back four. With no intentions of veering from her strengths, Manson said she looks forward to “stepping up and taking a leadership role.”

“I can intercept passes really good and when it comes down to it, I can tackle,” said Manson, whose slide-tackling prowess is predicated on her impeccable timing. “I like it when it comes down to pressure situations.”

Due to a significant loss of graduating players, Zurakowski said space will be made available on the top team for players entering their first year of high school.  

Grade. 12 Kacey Mcfee – also a member of the national-competing Eastside Celtics - is all but guaranteed her place as the first team’s starting keeper. Even so, 14-year-old Kelsie Meckelborg looks forward to the challenge she is presented with poise and verve.  

“I think the coming year will be good,” said the rookie. “I don’t think the jump will be that different.”

St. Mary is hosting the first tournament of the season, which sees the Marauders play Yorkton in an 11:30 a.m. fixture on Friday morning.  

The fleeting season culminates with provincials, which are to be held at Carlton during the last weekend of October.  

Organizations: PRINCE ALBERT

Geographic location: Fredericton, Yorkton

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