The Swift Current Comp. Ardens soccer team stretched their unbeaten streak to 48 games with three wins to open the season
The Swift Current Comp. Ardens have picked up right where they left off in the Moose Jaw High School Soccer League. The four-time defending league champions opened their eight-game regular season with three wins last week, including a crucial win over Weyburn in a rematch of last year’s championship match.
A young Ardens team stormed out of the gates with an 8-0 win over visiting Moose Jaw Vanier last Tuesday. Veteran Kelsey Therrien led the Ardens with three goals and two assists as she moved seamlessly from sweeper to striker early in the match.
Grade nine rookie Brooke Vallee scored only five minutes into her Ardens’ debut to open the scoring and added two assists during an impressive outing. Grade 11 Andrea Erlandson added a goal and an assist in the win. Santana Gowan, Ashley Eben, and Haley Bissonnette all added singles for the Ardens.
Cassandra Furey-Cameron and Hannah Dyck shared the shutout in the season opening win.
The Ardens found themselves in a much closer match Saturday morning against a veteran Weyburn Eagles squad. The Ardens dominated possession but were held off the scoresheet until the 72nd minute when rookie Christina Chase slammed home a Vallee pass to clinch a 1-0 win to keep the Ardens unbeaten. Furey-Cameron picked up another shutout in goal with 90 scoreless minutes.
“Going in we knew that Weyburn would be tough because their starting line-up only graduated one player from last year,” explained head coach Dale Perry. “They probably have one of the better players in the entire league. There was a little apprehension on my part that we might have been losing our first game in the Moose Jaw League [in a long time].”
“We had a lot of good opportunities,” added Furey-Cameron. “Our passing was really well strung together. We just weren’t hitting the net much. We had good opportunities but just not many shots on target or we hit it right straight at their goalie.”
“Surprisingly, although the score was only 1-0, we totally dominated the game,” added Perry. “Aside from Sabrina [Mainil] got through twice and didn’t score, we really possessed the ball and our build-up was really good. We just don’t have those players at the front that can bury.”
The Ardens’ afternoon match in Moose Jaw turned into a blowout as they struck for 14 goals in a shutout win over Estevan. Gowan and Kelsey Therrien were both in on five goals as the Ardens moved to 3-0. Gowan, a grade 10 striker, scored three goals and added two assists. Therrien, a versatile grade 11 weapon, notched two goals and added three assists. Vallee added a goal and three assists from her central midfield position. Karrie Therrien and Becky Neustaeter both scored twice, while Shae Bolton and Eben each added a goal and an assist. Jessica Driver and Payton Schwan also scored, while Marissa Hilmoe chipped in an assist. Furey-Cameron, Kelsey Therrien, and Schwan shared the shutout in goal.
Perry noted the strong defensive play of his team that played 270 scoreless minutes to open the season, led by grade 11 Kelsey Therrien, who has taken over the sweeper duties.
“Kelsey has been really strong at the back end, vocal and smart and really showing a lot of leadership at the back end… It is a relatively veteran defensive unit so we were confident we would be able to keep the score close. They do their job well back there.”
“I think we played really good defensively because we talked a lot and made sure we knew who was where and who was doing what,” added Furey-Cameron, now in her third season in the Ardens’ goal.
The Ardens are an intriguing mix of three grade 12’s, four grade 11’s, two grade 10’s and nine grade 9’s.
“Right now basically we are using four grade nines across the midfield,” said Perry. “They are doing their job because that’s where the trenches are. You have to be good to either help your defense or set-up your front end. I think the older kids have accepted them really well. There seems to be a nice chemistry, they know that the kids are capable of playing with their PSL experience from the summer.”
Many of the players had never played together prior to last week. Eight of the grade nines are coming off an outstanding season in the Premier Soccer League.
“It has been interesting because they are so young and none of us have played with them really,” explained Furey-Cameron, who played this summer in the PSL with Regina Unidad U16. “It is like converging two teams together. But they are pretty good players, having them play PSL would have helped having them play at a higher level coming into high school soccer.”
“I think compared to last year we are stronger and more diverse as a team instead of relying on certain people,” she added.
The Ardens will face a major test this weekend at the 16-team Moose Jaw SoccerFest Tournament. The Ardens will see some of the province’s top teams from Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Yorkton, Notre Dame, and Regina during the grueling two-day tournament. The Ardens will open round robin play on Friday with games against Estevan, Yorkton Regional, and Regina Campbell.
“The nice part about it is that we get to see some of the better teams that we don’t get to see in the Moose Jaw league…. Even if we don’t get to play them we get a little bit of feel what they are like if we meet them going down the road,” said Perry, now in his ninth year at the helm of the Ardens.