Elite team draws top Burnaby players

Burnaby’s top female soccer talent is part of the mix on a team playing at the highest level in the province.

TSS Academy launched a women’s team this year after debuting a men’s premier development league team last year.

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Burnaby’s Emma Regan, Kaela Hansen, Julia Grosso and Siena Porth have all committed to the TSS Rovers this summer and will play elite teams as part of the Northwest Conference of the Women’s Premier Soccer League, which includes teams from Oregon and Washington.

“We have a lot of really accomplished players,” explained coach Brendan Quarry. “This is the highest level (of soccer) in B.C. on the female side.”

Grosso belongs to the senior national team and Regan has played on the U20 national team.

Playing on the TSS Rovers gives these soccer players exposure to highly competitive games before they head off to university to play – this September, Regan and Grosso will head to the University of Texas and Hansen will be playing with Kansas University.

The TSS Rovers, created as a continuation of the Whitecaps REX program, draws on soccer talent from around the Lower Mainland.

Quarry coached some of the girls as young teens, and he’s happy to see them back on the pitch.

He’s been coaching younger female players for 20 years, but coaching more experienced players is whole different ballgame. With younger players, Quarry focuses more on technique; with the TSS Rovers, the focus is on tactics and components of the game.

The TSS Rovers started their season with a 4-2 win over THUSC Diamonds in late May.

The game began with two goals by the TSS Rovers, followed by the Diamonds bringing the score to 2-1. The second half saw the teams scoring back-and-forth, first TSS Rovers, then the Diamonds, and finally Regan scored the final goal to end the game 4-2 for the Rovers.

“They were chasing us and making it interesting,” Quarry said. “We have a very technical group of players. We’re not a very direct team – passing in small triangles up the field. It’s nice to watch – nice to play.”

The long-term goal is to create a team environment where the players want to return every summer to play. With 22 players on the roster, the team has a lot of depth, which allows them to play back-to-back games. Quarry hopes the team gels this year.

“It’s about the players becoming more comfortable with each other,” Quarry explained. “They come from different environments, different styles at university. They’re learning to trust each other.”

Grosso said playing on the TSS Rovers will be a good introduction to a higher level of play before she goes to play at the University of Texas this fall.

“It helps me in the speed of the game and to prepare mentally and physically for what’s to come at university,” she said.

The women in the Women’s Premier Soccer League are bigger and stronger, she added, which will make her play faster and think faster.

The Rovers will play the Seattle Sounders this Sunday, June 17 at 2 p.m. at Swangard.

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