·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   · 

Volume 91, Issue 32

Friday, October 24, 1997

cliff hanger


Soccer captain sails team into playoffs

©Tom Baumgartner/Gazette
FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET. Mustang Sara Nathanson [14] uses her nitro rockets to blast past a typical opponent and help carry her team into the provincial championship tournament.

By Ian Ross
Gazette Staff

A 1996 All-Canadian, this year's Ontario scoring champion and co-captain of the undefeated Mustang soccer team.

Quite a list of accomplishments for any athlete, but for forward Sara Nathanson, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, there is one more desire yet to be fulfilled – a shot at a national championship.

A fourth-year English major, Nathanson is playing in her last season with the Mustangs and has not made a trip back to the nationals since her rookie year. Heading into the Ontario championships this weekend in Waterloo, she forecasts the team getting to at least the finals on Sunday. Both finalists will be handed invitations to the big show – the CIAU championships – before the game begins.

"In my first year, I got a taste of [the nationals]," Nathanson said. "My hope is to make the others just as hungry because it doesn't happen every year that you have a chance like this," she added.

At the age of five, Nathanson was first introduced to the checkered black and white soccer ball, yet it wasn't until late in her high school career that this multi-talented athlete decided to fully pursue the game.

"I was too short for basketball and a little too short for volleyball, so as I got older, I knew that if I wanted to play at this level, soccer would be my best bet."

Nathanson is not only highly praised by her fellow teammates and coaches but also by coaches around the league.

"Her two big talents are speed and her ability to put the ball in the back of the net," Laurier head coach Camilla Vejvalka said. "When we faced her we tried to close her down. You simply can't go into a game and ignore her."

Western head coach Sheri Kitching-Fowler, who has coached Nathanson for the past two seasons, has been extremely impressed by the player's vocal and insightful style of leadership.

"She is a high-spirited team leader," she said. "When players are not on the field, we ask them to pick a player to learn their style of play. Sara is certainly one that many look too for both skills and leadership."

Scoring 12 goals on the season, three more then anyone else in the province, Nathanson led her team to an incredible 8-0-4 record and the Ontario West title. With the added veteran leadership of defensive specialist Erin Howell and mid-fielder Beth Washburn, she is confident that the team can go deep into the post season this year. Kitching-Fowler is also excited about the team's play so far and holds a very positive view heading into the weekend. "Last week was our dress rehearsal when we focused on all 90 minutes," she said. "The result was our best two games this season for team play."

Western's bid to return to the national championship after a two year absence will be decided this weekend at Laurier. The Mustangs plays the Carleton Ravens in the quarter-finals at 3 p.m..

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997