(FREDERICTON, NB) Experience, leadership, and continuity. Jon Crossland has scored in all three categories.
The head coach of the UNB Varsity Reds women’s soccer team has received commitments from three veteran players, all of whom will return for a fifth and final season.
Fullbacks Hayley Gates and Laura McNicholas, and midfielder Lucy Parkin, will anchor a squad that has high hopes.
“I wasn’t ready to give up my UNB jersey just yet,” said Parkin, an Atlantic University Sport 1st team all-star, last season. “The main expectation is to win the AUS championship and be a contender in the CIS championship, in November.”
“I wanted to have another chance to win an AUS title,” said Gates, a three-time AUS all-star. “I'm really excited to be able to play my last year at UNB, and I am looking forward to getting started in August.”
Gates expects everyone to arrive, ready to compete, when training camp opens.
She says Crossland and his coaching staff have developed a winning culture, and believes that work is on the verge of producing results.
“I’ve seen a big change over the past four years,” said the Bridgewater, NS, native. “Everyone believes we can compete and win, which started from the coaching staff pushing us to be better.”
For Parkin and McNicholas, committing to a fifth year means committing to spending another year a long way from home.
Both hail from the United Kingdom, and both believe the coming season could be their best yet.
“I think, this year, we are more than capable of challenging for the AUS trophy, and winning it,” said McNicholas. “To be able to have the opportunity to spend another year doing the thing I love, with twenty-some sisters, was an opportunity I couldn't turn down.”
Parkin feels a championship would be the perfect way to cap her years as a Varsity Red.
“I want to do everything I can to accomplish that goal, and I believe I have a lot I can give, on the field, in my final year.”
While the three veterans credit the team’s growth for luring them back, Coach Crossland is quick to say they’ve been a big part of that growth.
“They’re great examples of the time, dedication, and work ethic needed to be a successful student-athlete,” said Crossland. “It’s been a privilege to work with them and to see their personal growth on and off the field over the past years.”
“With the mix of returning and new players, it should be an exciting season at BMO Centre,” said Crossland.