The Douglas College Royals did something they’ve always dreamed of.
The women’s soccer team corralled the program’s first-ever PacWest provincial title, blanking defending champion Vancouver Island University 2-0 on Saturday in Burnaby.
With a dominating performance, the Royals held a firm advantage from the opening kickoff, taking the lead in the 26th minute when two-time PacWest player of the year Marni McMillan delivered a brilliant pass to striker Danae Harding, and the Port Moody native buried it for the 1-0 advantage.
In the second half Douglas continued its forward press, eventually doubling its lead off Mikayla Hamilton’s tally in the 66th minute.
“Our first goal was an absolute screamer from 25-yards out,” remarked head coach Chris Laxton. “The team came out a bit nervous to start (the game) but after 10 minutes we got on track and played to our strengths and were the better team.”
McMillan was named the player of the game, while Harding was chosen tournament MVP.
Both Port Moody natives, the pair have been on-field leaders over the past two seasons.
“The two of them added a lot of goals and combined for more goals than some clubs in the league,” said Laxton. “(Harding) got both game winning goals this weekend, and the second one – that hard, long blast – was something I had heard about and was waiting to see… For Marni, she’s such a dominating force. Players are afraid to go too close to her because she has the pace to beat them, and badly.”
Another major contributor was third-year centreback Courtney Sine, a Burnaby North grad.
“She started throughout the tournament and was excellent,” noted the coach. “Courtney was calm and composed and limited the opposition to just two good chances.”
The New West-based Royals dominated the regular season 10-3-2, but one of their losses came at the hands of VIU. Their semifinal opponent, Kwantlen Polytechnical, also racked up a win against Douglas, although the eventual champions held a 2-1 series over both rivals lead going into the provincials.
The Royals advanced to the
final after notching a similar 2-0 triumph over Kwantlen Polytechnical in the semifinal last
Player of the Game Nicole Fraser and Harding supplied the offence, as Douglas took the lead in the 27th minute and never looked back. Netminder Emmanuelle Langr stood up to the Kwantlen shooters, collecting the shutout.
Now the Royals turn their focus to Peterborough, Ont., where the nationals begin Nov. 11. The first opponent is Alberta champion Concordia.
“I think we need different players to step up and I think it will come down to our depth,” said Laxton. “We’ve been getting contributions from a lot of players but when you draw into a tournament like this, three games over four days, you need to have that depth to endure and push on.”
A national champion will be crowned Nov. 14.