(FREDERICTON, NB) Like a lot of people at this time of year, Coralia Monterroso is getting ready to head south.
She leaves Fredericton on Sunday and her travel itinerary includes Guatemala City and Houston, Texas.
A member of the UNB Varsity Reds women’s soccer team, Monterroso is also a key member of Guatemala’s women’s team.
The Guatemalans, like Canada, are preparing for an Olympic qualifying tournament that begins February 10th, in Houston.
Before going to Texas, Monterroso will take part in a training camp, in her home country.
She knows they need to be ready.
“We will be facing some of the best teams from around the world,” says Monterroso. “We will be facing Canada, they won the bronze medal in the past Olympics, and maybe the U.S. in a semi-final, the World Cup champions, so we know it’s a higher level.”
Since the end of the Atlantic University Sport season, Monterroso has continued to work out with her Varsity Reds teammates.
She was sidelined, by injury, for a couple of weeks, but has overcome that, just in time.
Monterroso says playing in the AUS has helped her prepare for competition on the international stage. “There’s a higher level here, in the AUS, than when I was playing in Guatemala. The difference is physically. The players are so much bigger, their legs are thicker, so I think playing here has made me improve a lot.”
Monterroso’s experiences with the Guatemalan team are a bonus for the Varsity Reds program.
Head coach Jon Crossland says Monterroso’s teammates will be eager to hear about everything upon her return.
“For our girls, there’s a lot of them, they’re the ones they watch on TV and they cheer for and they look up to these girls… and Coralia gets to rub shoulders and play against them, so they think it’s pretty special.”
Crossland feels its something that benefits the entire university. “It’s a neat experience for us to have a student-athlete on our campus that not just has an opportunity to go to the Olympics, but captains her country in these big qualifiers, whether it’s the Olympics or the World Cup.”
At the qualifying tournament, Guatemala is in a group with Canada, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago.
Guatemala, ranked 76th in the world, opens against the 48th ranked Trinidadians on February 11th.
On February 16th, they take on Canada, 11th in the current FIFA rankings.
“It will be a tough game,” says Monterroso. “It’s a great opportunity to face the Canadian team. They are really good, they have experienced players… and Christine Sinclair.”
“I just see it as a big challenge, a challenge to perform at my best level and it gets me excited. Excited to play, excited to do the things the right way in the field.”
Monterroso is hoping her Varsity Reds teammates will be cheering for Guatemala.
Jon Crossland says it’ll be a hard game for him to follow. “Maybe we’ll cheer for a tie.”