After four years on the team, Marisa Mendonca returned to Penticton for an exhibition match with the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack, ahead of her final year of college soccer.
“It’s exciting, and nerve-wracking because I know everybody here, but it’s super fun,” said Mendonca after the game on Sunday. “I love being home. It’s beautiful blue skies, and it’s a great place to play soccer.”
The TRU WolfPack has a training camp coming up, and to get their players warmed up after three weeks off, they called the Penticton Pinnacles, asked if there was a team to play, and came down for an exhibition match. After three half-hour periods—to give all three of the TRU goalies a chance to play—the Wolfpack took the win with a score of 4-2.
With four years on the team, Mendonca has earned a name for herself on the team, coming back from a shoulder injury that kept her out of the playoffs in her first season with the Wolfpack to become a major part of their offence.
In her third year, she would finish 12th in the league for scoring, and drive the WolfPack in their push for the playoffs with five goals in the last six games. Another two goals came during her fourth year, as well as a shortlist for the Doctor Roger H. Barnsley Scholar-Athlete award, but the highlight of her time with the university is still in that 2017 season.
“Looking back, it’s actually when we came to Kelowna in my third year, I believe,” said Mendonca. “It was like coming back home and I had a pretty good season that year, and I scored like my fourth or fifth goals there. All my family was out there, so it was really neat.”
“It’s been a long journey, but also quick. It’s been a lot of ups and downs; we’ve gone through two, three different coaches now, so that’s been a lot,” said Mendonca. “But I’m sad to see it end now. It’s kinda like, ‘What do you do after now?’ It’s my last season, everything’s my last now, it’s kinda bittersweet. “
One route that she is considering is pursuing her biology studies and transitioning into medicine. She plans to get her bachelor’s degree before making her decision, but staying involved with soccer will be a part of her future no matter what path she takes.
“It’s just something that you grow up with, I don’t really know life without it,” said Mendonca “It’s kinda my stress relief, my everything relief. Without it, I don’t know what I would do. It’s a passion.”
This game isn’t the last Penticton will see Mendonca. Wherever her studies take her, she plans to come back to the town she calls home.
“For sure. This is where I will end up for sure,” Mendonca said with a wide smile. “I love it here. The soccer’s good, the town’s good, the weather’s nice, there’s a lot here that keeps me coming back.”
The Wolfpack has several exhibition games scheduled before the season starts in September.
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