Volume 95, Issue 8

Thursday, September 13, 2001
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Western ruggers off and running amok

A time to reflect, cheer and jeer

Men's Rugby Schedule

No longer lowly bottom feeders

Making a big splash

No longer lowly bottom feeders

By Jordan Bell
Gazette Staff

Sometimes it can be comforting to be at the bottom of the barrel. No matter what befalls you, there is no place to go but up.

The 2001 edition of the Western Mustangs women's soccer team is about to embark on their ascension to field prominence. Last year's 3-5-2 record (last place in the West Division) is well behind them. Team captain and stopper Jody Patterson said this year's squad is out for redemption.

"We have to drastically improve on last year's squad," Patterson said. "Our goal as a team is to vie for the Ontario University Athletics championship."

Head coach Mark Eys takes this optimism one step further. "I believe we have a realistic goal of advancing to the national championships," he said.

Leading this cohesive unit will be a plethora of talented veterans and a bunch of new kids on the block. Captain Patterson and defender Stacey Judd will provide the knowledge which five years of experience can give.

In addition to this, Sweeper Lena Hesselmans will provide the gutsy attitude, willing to stick her body in harm's way. One can hope to expect skills on a grand scale from rookie forward Cristina Bonasia and Noel Carbone, the human wall, will defend the net.

When a coach has so many talented players at his disposal, it's hard for them to identify a few. The caution in Eys' identification was obvious. "I am very hesitant to name key players, because this team is just that – a team. We're young, we have talented rookies and competent captains."

Christine Bryant/Gazette
HOW DARE YOU TURN YOUR BACK TO US? The women's soccer team is hoping to get in front of the competition this year.

The Mustangs have started off on the right foot. This past weekend, they powered their way past the Fanshawe Falcons 5-0, and upset the formidable York Yeowomen 1-0. Eys said getting out of the gates is a positive sign, but is holding his breath.

"The win against York is obviously a big win," Eys said. "But I remain cautiously optimistic. We're taking it step-by-step and going through a process of experimentation," she added.

Bonasia, a product of London's St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School, is one of many making the jump from the high school ranks to the higher level of skill present in university. She said the discrepancy is evident from the get-go.

"The university level of play is much stronger and more competitive than high school," Bonasia said. "But I love the transition. The chance to give 110 per cent to this program and help this team to the next level is something I relish."

Team chemistry is something that could ease the transition even more. Without all the troops in the same boat, pandemonium could possibly break loose, but Patterson said this facet of the team is well in order.

"We've focused on team cohesiveness this year," Patterson said. "It's obviously paid off, as there are no gaps between the rookies and veterans."

The Mustangs kick-off a busy weekend. Saturday, they battle with the Windsor Lancers and Sunday, they welcome the Guelph Gryphons, both at J.W. Little Stadium, both at 1 p.m..

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Copyright The Gazette 2001