The University of Manitoba Bison women’s soccer team begin their 10th season in CIS action in 2014, poised and ready to improve off of a 1-7-4 record in 2013. They will have their fair share of youth coming through the program this year, with 19 rookies looking to make an impact and earn a significant role on the team. Combined with a stable amount of veterans returning to the squad, Manitoba could be in for a breakout campaign this year.
Manitoba ranked 10th in the CIS in goals per game last season; however, that average should steadily increase this year. Daniella Scerbo, who led the team in goals (two), assists (two), and points (four) last season, enters her third year with the squad. The additions of Jamila Calvez and Bruna Mavignier de Vasconcelos should also aid in the amount of goals the Bisons score this season.
Calvez, a member of Team Manitoba at the Canada Summer Games in 2013, scored 16 goals in 19 games this past season with Team United, while Mavignier de Vasconcelos comes all the way from Brazil, where she scored six goals in four games playing for Taça Brasil sub 20 (Brazil Cup under 20).
Megan Graca (one assist, six SOG, 794 minutes played), and Robyn Kastner (one goal, one assist, 895 minutes played) lead a young, but energized, group at the midfield position. There will be plenty of competition this year, including Sara MacLennan (younger sister of defenceman Emma MacLennan, provincial player from 2008-2012), and highly-sought-after recruit Amanda Wong (Manitoba Soccer Association Outstanding Youth Female Player of the Year in 2013).
The loss of fifth-year player Gillian Sidon hurts the Bisons, but veterans Sarah Haiko (720 minutes played) and Elyce Molyneaux (one goal, one assist, 1,004 minutes played) are returning to stabilize the back end. Rookie Jessie Harland, another member of Team Manitoba at the 2013 Canada Summer Games, also looks to make her presence felt.
Fifth-year player Chloe Werle (2013 team MVP) returns for her final season, making the goaltending position an immediate strength. Martina Arran, Brittany MacSween, and newcomer Madison Wilford add youth and energy to the team.
Leadership and recruiting
Head coach Vanessa Martinez-Lagunas enters her second year at the helm, and provides a combination of experience, enthusiasm, and ability to develop skill. Martinez-Lagunas is a FIFA women’s soccer instructor and former member of Mexico’s national team. She has coached across the world in Mexico, Germany, and the United States , and was a featured clinician at the 2014 National Soccer Coaches Association of America convention in Philadelphia.
Showing what they’ve got
In their final tune-up before the regular season, the Bisons welcomed the Minnesota-Crookston Golden Eagles to Winnipeg on Aug. 29 with a soccer clinic. Manitoba looked calm and in control as they moved the ball fluidly to stifle any pressure from the Eagle strikers.
The story of the game was the speed and skill infused into the Bison lineup by multiple rookie forwards looking to crack the starting line. Bruna Mavignier de Vasconcelos provided a goal and a helper in the 2-0 rout of the Eagles.
Jamila Calvez pushed the play through the middle with her speed and flair with the ball, and Camille Plett buried the second goal of the game, delivering a dagger into the hearts of the Golden Eagles.
The youth movement was also on display in the net as second-year goaltender Brittany MacSween and first-year Madison Wilford stood tall in the second half, repelling the Golden Eagles’ desperate attempts to find the equalizing goals.
Sarah Haiko led the Bison defence and was happy with the team’s overall performance.
“Defensively we felt organized, connected in the middle, connected up front, and were able to put the ball in the back of the net,” said Haiko.
Martinez-Lagunas had her squad looking prepared and confident at Friday’s pre-season matchup, and the team is full of confidence heading into the regular season.
“A game like this builds confidence. The issue with us, we lose games, then get mad at ourselves,” said the head coach. “We are excited to go into next week.”
The Bisons look to continue their strong team play at their home opener this Friday at 6 p.m. at the West Turf Fields.
Bisons supporting Bisons
Last Thursday, the women’s soccer team hosted a Bison Soccer Coffeehouse to help raise funds for an upcoming skill development trip to Texas and received strong support from a large number of family, friends, and fellow athletes. The coffeehouse featured numerous performances from members of the soccer, and track and field teams, as well as their relatives.
The Bison soccer team also has a great secret; they are full of talented musicians and performers.
Captain Sarah Haiko showed off her voice and piano skills with multiple performances. Forward Daniella Scerbo showcased her multi-instrument ability by switching between mandolin and acoustic guitar in the same song to cover “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals. Rumour has it that Scerbo can also play the banjo.
Goaltender Martina Arran provided the piano while rookie forward Jamila Calvez sang an Adele cover. Even coach Martinez-Lagunas stepped on stage to showcase her musical talents.
If you want to help support the women’s soccer team, you can sign up for an upcoming soccer tournament they are running on Sept. 14. All funds raised will go to support the team. Check out umanitoba.ca/bisonpride for info on how to sign up to play.