There might be lots to work on and plenty of improvement to come, but the Vanier Spirits are still plenty happy with their start to the Moose Jaw High School Athletic Association girls soccer season.
The Spirits improved to 2-0 on the campaign with a 4-0 victory over the Weyburn Eagles on Wednesday night at Canada Games Field, with the local squad doing all their damage in the first half.
“Initially, our first half was really good, we were able to pass the ball really effectively and execute the plays we were working on, but the second half exposed our lack of cardio again,” said Spirits coach Daniel Atkins, looking back to their season-opening win over Central a week earlier. “We were definitely running out of gas, so we have a lot to work on in practice with cardio and lots of positioning.”
When they were at full steam, the Spirits certainly looked the part of two-time defending 4A girls provincial soccer champions.
Michaela DeCorby and Cadence Olson each scored twice in the opening half, and solid goaltending from Rylan Morhart despite a handful of Weyburn chances kept the clean sheet intact.
“(Rylan) was outstanding,” Atkins said. “She was flawless back there, made all the right choices and maybe it’s fitting since it’s her birthday today.”
It certainly didn’t hurt Vanier to have a bit of luck on their side, as the Eagles did have their opportunities but didn’t have the same level of finish as the Spirits had.
“We got lucky a few times, they had just as many chances early as we did, but we were able to finish our goals while they hit the posts,” Atkins said.
With the hot start to the campaign, the inevitable comparisons begin -- can the Spirits make it a three-peat as provincial champions?
“We’re on the path, but we have a lot of work to do before we’re as confident as we have been in the past,” Atkins said. “We knew we had to work hard to get there, and we did work hard and we did get here. So I’m hopeful that will happen once again, but it’s always a new situation, a new combination of girls and we still have lots to do.”
When it comes to league play, there’s still the 900-pound gorilla waiting in the wings in the form of a pair of 5A powerhouses. Vanier faces Yorkton Regional on Saturday, Oct. 1 before closing out the regular season against the 12-time defending league champion Swift Current Ardens on Thursday, Oct. 6 in their final game of the regular season.
“With Yorkton’s team and Swift’s team, we need to really gear up to compete well with them,” Atkins said. “I know and I think they know that we need work harder and know our positions better and have a better system. So it’s nice to start off with a couple wins, but we have a lot of work to do to get ready for regionals and provincials.”