Crusaders build strong foundation for run at provincial prominence

Gary Pearson
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The Crusaders train in preparation for an upcoming two-day tournament, commencing in Moose Jaw on Friday.

--PRINCE ALBERT-- After a dominant and victorious display on opening weekend, Carlton’s soccer team looks to ride the wave of momentum to Friday’s matches in Moose Jaw.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect after losing a few key players last year,” said Crusaders head coach Jennifer Ferguson regarding her team’s triumphant display last weekend at St. Mary. “But it was probably the best team effort we’ve had in a couple of years.”

But Ferguson is predominantly placing the emphasis and impetus on the latter stages of the fleeting footy season. Last year the team played the opening weeks in prolific fashion, but couldn’t muster the cutting edge at the business end of the season required to obtain provincial prominence.

“We were disappointed last year at provincials, losing our first game,” said the coach of 10 years. “We thought we were top four in the province, obviously we didn’t finish that way.”

As provincial hosts, Carlton Comprehensive, regardless of the standings, are guaranteed a spot in the marquis event.

“We still hope to go in as regional champions,” said Ferguson. “But we are not going to be worried about (the) outcome until the end. If you want a gold medal you have to win the last three games.”

A fairly youthful squad, the Crusaders have only four veteran Grade. 12 players. But Olivia Dunn believes the team has the versatility and depth to strike fear into the hearts of all-comers. And beating St. Mary 3-1 on opening weekend in hostile territory seems to have bolstered Crusaders’ confidence.

“We played well as a unit,” said the 17-year-old, who was prolific on the weekend, scoring five goals in three games, while also delivering numerous precise passes for teammates to latch on to. “Our goalie got hurt the first day of practice. It worked good that we had do many people to fill in, we didn’t just have one player that could play one position.”

Centre-back Hali Moreland, 17, agrees with Dunn’s sentiments wholeheartedly. She intends on using her experience, vision and voice to guide the team to glory.

“I get to see the whole field, so I can communicate a lot,” said Moreland. “And I like to see where the play is going to, so I can adjust to what is happening.”

Ferguson is carrying a roster of 19, an abundance of players scarcely seen during  her 10-year reign. In a congested schedule, all 19 players will be utilized as temperatures plummet and injury concerns arise.

The squad travels to Moose Jaw for a grueling weekend schedule, including three Friday and two Saturday matches.

St. Mary, Swift Current and the Regina Leboldus are set to partake in the two-day tournament, all of whom are touted to qualify for provincials.

Organizations: PRINCE ALBERT

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Swift Current

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