Sidney Roy is back running with the UNBC Timberwolves' pack.
Considering Roy's own ability to score goals and how badly the T-wolves struggled in that department last year, that's an encouraging sign for the women's soccer team as they prepare for their season-opening game today against the Thompson Rivers WolfPack at 3 p.m. at North Cariboo Field.
The 23-year-old striker from Burnaby left after the 2015 season to continue her studies in environmental engineering at UBC in Vancouver and has not played a U Sports game since then. This will be her fourth season in the Canada West Conference.
"We're excited to have Sid back," said T-wolves head coach Neil Sedgwick, back for his second season at UNBC.
"Obviously I wasn't here (in the three seasons she played for UNBC from 2013-15) but I had a chance to watch her in the Lower Mainland playing with her women's team last year and met with Sid. She's been fantastic as a leader and obviously she can turn a game so we're thrilled to have her back.
"She's strong and physical and a very determined single-minded striker and add that to good athletic ability and she's definitely a threat," said the coach. "We've been doing a lot even back in the spring to prepare ourselves in the middle third and final third of the field with our attack and she fits in nicely."
In her third season at UNBC, Roy scored six goals in 12 games, double the entire three-goal output of the T-wolves team combined in their 13-game season last year. Not only did the T-wolves' lack of offence hurt them but their pourous defence allowed 40 goals, more than three per game (second-worst in the Canada West Conference). That was reflected in their 0-12-1 record.
Roy and UNBC fifth-year defender Rhianne Ferdinandi of New Westminster have known each other for years, having played minor box lacrosse together on the same teams.
"This is Rhianne's senior year and she's been fantastic as a leader," said Sedgwick. "She has that same tenacity that Sid has when she's out there playing."
The T-wolves have 13 new players, including goalies Madi Doyle and Brooke Molby, both of Squamish, as well as Prince George Youth Soccer graduates Hannah Emmond, Whitney Anderson and Kierstin Vohar. Sonja Nietsch of Calgary, Hallie Nystedt of North Saanich and Daniela Bergendahl of Rock Creek, who red-shirted last year, are also part of the first-year crop.
"Our goalkeepers are young, we have youth at the back and we have a solid midfield of returning players," said Sedgwick.
"At the end of last season we started creating great attacking opportunities and I think we've continued to build on that and I'm excited to see where we can go with it."
Defender Fiona Raymond and midfielders Tianna Rosi and Tianna Pius, all of Prince George, are back for a fifth season. Midfielders Kylie Erb of Summerland and homegrown Madison Emmond of are four-year veterans, while forward Maddy Doucette and midfielder Julia Babicz, both P.G. products, are in their third year. Defender Mara McCleary, UNBC's top rookie in 2016, played every minute of every game last year.
On Sunday at noon, the T-wolves women host the UBC-Okanagan Heat at North Cariboo Field.
The UNBC men (1-0-3) are playing in Victoria today, off to their best-ever start in six seasons, since joining the Canada West Conference in 2012.
They opened at home two weekends ago with a tie and a win over Thompson Rivers University, then went on the road last weekend to Langley, where they tied Trinity Western 0-0 and 2-2. Currently ranked second in the Pacific Division, the T-wolves play the winless Victoria Vikes (0-3-1).
Through four games, the
T-wolves have scored five goals and have allowed four. UNBC will be back on home turf next Friday night to play the Mount Royal Cougars.