Despite the fact the UNBC women's soccer team is about to make its debut in the top university athletics league in Canada, it has not played -- and will not play -- against any university-level competition in its pre-season schedule.
Jason Kerswill, athletics director at UNBC, said an attempt wasn't made to find the Timberwolves competition against other schools before the start of the season. Instead, the UNBC squad has played three tune-up contests against clubs formed by local senior women and youth players.
The T-wolves are moving from the B.C. college league to the Canada West conference of Canadian Interuniversity Sport and are doing so knowing they haven't won a league game in two years (0-23-1). In going winless last season, they managed to score just one goal.
The decision not to arrange any pre-season clashes against Canada West or similar-level opponents is questionable. It was made to shield this year's UNBC players from results that could damage their confidence.
"Only scoring the one goal last year, there were many times where the team was doing quite well for the first 70 or 80 minutes of the game and then one goal would go in and the heads would go down," Kerswill said. "It was the coach's decision this year to put together a pre-season schedule that was going to help build some confidence and get some girls some game experience but make sure the pieces were falling into place in getting ready for Canada West.
"Would it have been nice to have some university games? Obviously that is an important part of a pre-season schedule and that's something that we're going to be building for next year, there's no doubt about that."
The question for this year is, what will happen when the T-wolves start Canada West membership without having a true understanding of the kind of competition they'll be facing?
But, UNBC head coach Andy Cameron isn't concerned about not having played against any other university teams in exhibition action.
"I think that the level was good enough for us," said Cameron, who was hired in June. "We played the three games in our first seven days of training, and all the players haven't been in camp. It's been good enough to prepare."
The Timberwolves -- 0-2-1 in those outings -- have two more exhibition games this weekend. Today (2 p.m., North Cariboo Fields), they'll take on a masters men's squad. And, on Sunday (2 p.m., Michelle Lamarche Fields), they'll face a senior women's team.
The T-wolves will open their Canada West regular season Sept. 8 in Winnipeg against another team new to the league, the University of Winnipeg Wesmen.
As part of their pre-season schedule, the Wesmen ran in the University of Manitoba Invitational tournament against the Regina Cougars and Manitoba Bisons, both of which are Canada West clubs. At the same event, the Wesmen also faced a squad from the Chico Soccer School of Excellence. The Wesmen lost 6-3 to Regina, 2-1 to Manitoba and 7-0 to CSSE.
In UNBC's trio of games so far, the team has scored seven goals and the majority of them have been courtesy of Sidney Roy, a first-year player from Burnaby.
"We'll be looking for her to continue that scoring," Cameron said. "She's quick so she can get behind defenders."