Sydney, N.S. — Before the members of the Cape Breton University Capers laced up their cleats at the beginning of the 2017 Atlantic University Sport women’s soccer season, history was on their minds.The start of the campaign coincided with a reunion for all CBU women’s soccer alumni to mark the 10th anniversary of the 2007 Capers squad that won a national championship in 2007.
That get-together had an impact on many players, including St. John’s native Alyssa Armstrong and Tamara Brown, both Atlantic University Sport all-star midfielders and both in their fifth and final seasons with the Capers.
Brown said meeting some of the players from that history-making team gave her a better appreciation for the school’s soccer program.
“We got to see the foundation of where it all started, the traditions, the old Capers team and how it has still stayed the same throughout the years. It was great to see where it all started,” said Brown. “We wouldn’t be there without them.”
Now, Brown, who scored the game-winner Sunday as the Capers won their ninth AUS conference banner, and her teammates will set out to repeat history as they head to Winnipeg where the University of Manitoba Bisons are hosting the U Sports women’s soccer championship.
Their first game is a Thursday quarter-final match against the Victoria Vikes.
If anything, on paper, this year’s roster is even better than that of the national championship team of a decade ago. They sported an undefeated 11-0-1 regular-season record, compared the 11-1-1 standard of the 2007 club. The team also eclipsed the previous Vapers record of 48 goals set in 2007 by potting 50 — the most in the nation this year — and gave up just four — three fewer than in 2007.
According to Armstrong, the team plays just as well together off the field.
“We’ve created friendships that will last a lifetime, which sounds really cheesy, but when the girls from the reunion came this year, you just looked back at how some of them are still best friends to this day,” said Armstrong, a first-team AUS all-star the past two seasons.
“We made it a point to make sure that on and off the field that we create that bond and it plays through in practices in games, and just when we hang out in school and stuff.”
Armstrong has already competed in a national soccer tournament this year. She was a member of provincial senior women’s champion Holy Cross Avalon Ford, which represented Newfoundland and Labrador at the national Jubilee Trophy championship last month. And she came close to claiming a Canadian soccer title four years ago with the provincial team that claimed a silver medal at the national girls under-18 championship.
CBU head coach Stephen (Ness) Timmons said Armstrong, Brown fellow-fifth year players and Robyn Novorolsky and Lysianne Trottier, and other returning players deserve the credit for making the team such a close-knit group.
“I give credit to the seniors for building the chemistry and camaraderie within the team. That goes a long way too in the bigger picture, and when you look back on teams it’s not always just about the wins and the losses but the experience of going through a university varsity program with your friend, who you really get close to.”
Timmons said while the 10-year anniversary isn’t something he puts much stock into, he’s happy if it provides motivation.
“I’m not superstitious. However, we are always looking for an edge and if that clicks with some people, that’s OK too because really it’s a mental game as much as a physical game when you get to this level and you’re rolling in there with the top eight teams now in Canada and it’s a one-game situation where you go right into the medal with that quarter-final game. You try to get every edge you can and you try to be in the best psychological state that you can.”
Cape Breton Post