I will admit that I was wrong. When the Trinity Western University Men’s Volleyball team won CIS gold last March and wrapped up a dominant, near perfect season, I proclaimed them the greatest team in the history of TWU’s athletic department. I even went a step further, as I predicted that the volleyball team’s accomplishments would stand the test of time and become a gold standard for all TWU teams to follow. It didn’t take long for all of that to become hogwash.
The TWU Women’s Soccer team erased the pain of coming up short at nationals one year ago to defeat Queen’s University and cap a truly special season—one that puts these Lady Spartans among the greatest CIS Soccer teams of all-time. The Spartans have now won four national championships, all since 2004, and have won three out of the past five CIS gold medals.
Due to the Mars’ Hill production cycle, some time has passed since Colleen Webber scored to give TWU the penalty kick victory over Queen’s. You’ve hopefully seen or at least read about the game by now so, rather than regurgitate quotes and break down games that are now two weeks ago, I want to make an attempt to capture just how dominant this team was.
The list of accomplishments is staggering; 17 regular season/ postseason wins, a new program record. Kristen Funk recorded a record 13 shutouts and now graduates as the ‘winningest’ goal keeper in Canada West history. Krista Gommeringer became the most productive first-year player in Canada West history and broke the Spartans’ single season scoring record.
The most impressive aspects of the Spartans season were their simple mathematics. The Spartans did not yield a single goal in the first half during a regular season. TWU outshot their opponents 135-38 which means that the Spartans put 3.5 times as many shots on goal as their opponents. The Spartans also had over twice as many corner kicks and over three times as many shot attempts as opponents during the course of the season. On two separate occasions, TWU did not give up a single shot on goal.
TWU’s most lopsided win last year was by four goals; the Spartans almost hit that as an average margin of victory this year.
The Spartans had to sweat it out for a while in the playoffs. They only had to sweat out four games during theregular season, in which their adversaries managed to stay within one goal at the final whistle. The Spartans played four such games during the playoffs; all of which were the final four games, from the CW Final against Victoria to the championship with Queen’s. The Spartans were unable to display absolute dominance on the scoreboard during the playoffs. That factor is what unfortunately prevents these Spartans from being considered among the absolute best teams to ever play in CIS.
At least, that’s what statistics would argue. I would argue from watching the gold medal game that this year’s Spartans squad is definitely among the greatest ever. Within the first 10 minutes of the game, as TWU controlled the ball and passed beautifully and applying constant pressure, you could see Queen’s come to a realization. Queen’s quickly understood they weren’t talented enough to hang with the Spartans; they would have to lock down on defense and hope TWU committed a critical mistake.
Of course, TWU was too good to make that mistake. The final game went to penalty kicks where Funk was sublime in net once again and TWU scored on all four attempts to clinch the banner. This was an incredible season; the girls were as dominant as any team I have seen in any sport at the CIS logo. The best part is, this team will continue to get better and be a threat again next year. Replacing Funk is a big concern, as is the graduation of key contributors like Byrne and Tessa Meyer. However, superstars like Webber, Boyd, Jennifer Castillo, and of course, Gommeringer are all due to be back next year. Three championships in five years should also make it fairly easy for Coach Graham Roxburgh to recruit elite talent to Langley as well.
The Lady Spartans will remain a threat to all who oppose them, considering how beautifully they control the ball and play defense, it may not matter who’s in goal next year. But that is an issue to address at a later date. For now, these girls have earned a right to bask in the glow of the greatest accomplishment they could have possibly achieved: being simply the best.