Hard work ahead for Pinnacles FC alum

Pen High grad and Pinnacles FC alum Marisa Mendonca has an important off-season ahead of her for the TRU WolfPack.

One of the highlights for Marisa Mendonca’s season with the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack soccer team was scoring her first and only career goal.

It came against the UBC-O Heat on Oct. 8.

“Being that it was in Kelowna, which is close to my hometown, it was really special, a nice celebration after,” said Mendonca, a product of Pinnacles FC and a Pen High grad. “That game was really important for us. To be the goal that put us ahead, although we didn’t keep the lead (they lost 2-1), it was kind of cool.”

The WolfPack went 1-13 on the season.

“Honestly losing is never really easy as much as we did,” she said. “I think that the team we had and the bonding we had between everybody it helped. We were pretty close as a team. That helped going through the losses together.”

Mendonca had her own ups and downs. She liked playing more compared to her rookie season and of the 12 games she played, she started eight on a younger squad starting a rebuild under a new coaching staff. Mendonca said she’s a better player, but has work to do in the off season to be even better. To have more success in her third year in U Sports, formerly known as the Canadian Interuniversity Sport, she said she needs to keep moving and support the play. She admitted to taking breaks, which she knows she can’t do anymore.

“You have to be very fit to be able to play CIS soccer,” she said.

WolfPack coach Kelly Shantz said to compete at that level the fitness side has to be very high. He added it gets harder the further a player is into their career. Shantz said if the players’ fitness level isn’t where it needs to be next season, it will be hard for them to have the ball.

When it comes to next season, Shantz said Mendonca has the biggest ground to cover to become a full-time starter through improving her strength and fitness. It’s a wake up call to players when they play a lot, how hard it is to play 90 minutes in a league with experienced players in the B.C. conference, which Shantz said is “by far the toughest place to play in Canada.”

“We have our work cut out for us. The only way to compete is to work hard in the off season,” he said. “After getting the physical and fitness side where it needs to be, then it’s competing tactically and technically.”

The WolfPack struggled offensively managing four goals. Shantz said a second year of a rebuild is as big as the first. Mendonca has the edge with her offensive skills that give her the chance to be a big contributor in Shantz’s eyes.

Shantz said Mendonca is their more foot-skilled player.

He also said she is great to coach, works hard and listens.

“You don’t have to tell her five times,” he said. “She picks the game up.

“She loves it. She has a passion for it. That shows through,” he continued. “She has a very nice touch and is probably our best shooter this year. That really stands out.”