CHARLOTTETOWN – Cumberland County will be well represented at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association soccer championships in Surrey, B.C. on Nov. 6-9, as three local athletes will participate as part of the Holland College Hurricanes.
Danika Beaton of Springhill, Alex Hicks of Amherst, and Victoria McCrindle of Parrsboro are all part of the Hurricanes team that won the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) championships in Cornwall, P.E.I. last weekend.
The Hurricanes finished their season with a 5-4-3 record and hosted the ACAA tournament as the fourth seeds, but dug deep and won the tournament with two 1-0 shutouts, first over top-seeded King’s College in the semifinals and then over Mount Saint Vincent in the championship game.
“It’s been a roller coaster,” said rookie head coach Kris McKinnon. “We started out with a young team with a lot of young players coming in, using a formation that a lot of them hadn’t seen. To be honest, as a coaching staff, it took quite awhile to find what the right mix was.”
After moving players around throughout the season, he said they really started to gel as a unit at around the seventh and eighth games of the season. He credited the players for their patience and positive attitudes.
“Every day at training they were willing to do what we asked,” he said. “They continued to work with us until we found the right mix.”
Throughout the season he said they relied on returning players like Beaton, who was a part of last year’s Hurricanes squad that hosted nationals in Cornwall.
Having her on the team as a familiar face for both Hicks and McCrindle as newcomers was also a bonus, he explained, as all three girls had played together in the past, either in high school or in summer soccer.
“Having the experience of hosting nationals, it’s definitely been a bonus having Danika on the squad,” said McKinnon. “She understands what it takes to play at the next level, and she’s definitely been a leader in training, in school, and just being around the team.”
Beaton, a 20-year-old Travel and Tourism student, said she feels a responsibility to help prepare the younger players for what they are about to face, which she said is a huge step up in competition.
“It’s not like playing the teams around here,” she said. “You have to get your head into it and focus a little more than what we’re used to playing.”
All of the girls are excited about the trip to British Columbia, Beaton included.
“Hosting was fun too, but I’ve never been out West before, so I’m really excited,” she said.
For Hicks, who has always been a striker, she has readjusted her game to take on a defensive role on the team, and the results have impressed her coach.
“She stepped in and took a starting role at fullback, and she took that on as her own and ran with it,” he said. “She’s been phenomenal there for us.”
McCrindle has been tasked with breaking into a highly competitive role as an attacker, and has made key contributions down the stretch, according to her coach.
“Tori started the season phenomenally, and, through the middle of it, school ramped up but she was still there every day doing everything we needed her to do,” he said. “Into the playoffs she wasn’t necessarily a starter but she played a huge role for us. In games leading up to the playoffs she went in and made an impact to get the points to get us into the playoffs.”
The ACAA games were the best Beaton has ever played in or seen, she said, proud of her team.
“I think we’re ready,” she said. “Kris has us working really hard towards it.”
The team will fly out from Moncton, N.B. early Monday morning, and will play its first game on Wednesday against the MacEwan Griffins of Edmonton. Click here for the full schedule.
Like at the ACAA tournament, they will go in as underdogs, but their coach is confident.
“They have the ability to go in and play,” said McKinnon. “They just have to believe in themselves, and that’s what we’ve been focusing on this week. They can play with anybody as long as they have confidence.”