Bisons Looking to Improve on Pitch

Article excerpt

Recruits challenging veterans for spots on women's soccer team

When fourth-year player Elyce Molyneaux stepped onto the soccer pitch for the first day of the University of Manitoba Bisons training camp six weeks ago, she noticed some new faces.

In fact, the new recruits outnumbered the returning players and now there is competition for every position in the starting 11 of the women's team.

For second-year head coach and former Mexican national team member Vanessa Martinez Lagunas, this year's recruitment went exactly how she wanted it to. She has made huge efforts to recruit nationally and internationally, even adding a player from Brazil into the mix.

This year's seven-week training camp has had the competitive environment she wanted to create. It's something she felt was missing during her first year at the helm, when the team held a two-week camp that included two practices per day.

"In total we have 17 returning players and 19 new players, so in terms of starting and fighting for spots... All of them are fighting for spots," Martinez Lagunas said at a press conference Tuesday.

"I tell you, the new players are really talented and now the returning players cannot fall asleep because if they decrease their intensity, they know one young girl is coming behind them and she's pushing really hard."

Martinez Lagunas doesn't believe in two-a-days, noting she doesn't want her players to be burnt out by the time the season starts. It's a style she picked up from her years playing and coaching professional soccer in Europe.

But it was quite a statement from Lagunas, who in the off-season managed to snag five of the six graduating players from the National Development Centre here in Winnipeg, which included forward/midfielder Amanda Wong. …