Marisa Mendonca is joining the WolfPack, the Thompson Rivers University women’s soccer team.
Also courted by the UBCO Heat, Mendonca chose the WolfPack because of its soccer and education program, where she plans to work towards earning a bachelor of Science degree.
“I actually took a campus visit in Grade 10 and enjoyed what I saw,” said Mendonca in a press release.
After picking up one win in 12 games in their Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) debut last season in the Pacific Division, and scoring nine goals, WolfPack coach Tom McManus learned his team needed an offensive threat.
“I went on a recruiting trip to Penticton and did a training session with an academy squad down there. She was a stand-out in the session,” said McManus. “She is a smart, strong player who has a great shot. She leads by example and encourages her team. We will have to wait for training camp, but I will be looking for her to be an attacking midfielder. She is a good goal scorer as well.”
“My strengths are shooting, running with the ball and beating defenders,” said Mendonca, who played for the Pen High Lakers. “I am able to play the ball through the middle to an attacking player, playing the ball or moving it up the field.”
Mendonca has seen Canada West play before — ironically a matchup last year between TRU and UBCO in Kelowna last fall.
“I liked how fast and competitive the level of play was,” she said. “It is something I have wanted to do for a while.”
Mendonca believes she will have to have a tighter touch on the ball along with the ability to pass and receive the ball quicker when she moves to the CIS.
Mendonca has been coached by her father Carlos since she started playing. In spite of the blood lines, he gave this assessment of his daughter.
“I have been blessed coaching this group of girls including Marisa for a number of years. We have been able to challenge them and play a possession type of football game. She likes to be the center of attention, being able to play the ball and move it to the next level. Playing high-tempo football will be a benefit for her with the older girls providing an example to her. She will have to get adjusted to the physicality of the CIS, but should do well.”
Her father added it was three years ago she decided that soccer would be her sport of choice.
“She got the chance to travel with her younger brother’s team who went to Madrid for a youth camp and playing some exhibitions,” said Carlos. “Two or three girls got a chance to go and play. They had a great experience. They came back and I noticed a difference. They were more serious and had fire in their eyes. From that point on, Marisa wasn’t interested in playing volleyball or basketball any more — it was all soccer. That experience ignited them. The desire she has is feeding others on her rep team.”
Marisa will also fit in well when it comes to contributing to the WolfPack community service program. She helps coach younger players with Pinnacles FC.
“In Penticton, we have a program in place where young players get a chance to work with older ones and aspire to move to their level,” she said. “Having little kids look up to you is a great honour.”
Growing up, Marisa looked up to Jana Yates, who played for the Pinnacles in the Pacific Coast Soccer League’s Reserve Division.
“When I was 10 years old she used to coach me. She was playing U21 and went to the U.S. to play,” said Marisa. “Now I am getting a chance to play with her this summer. It is really cool that I get to play with my role model.”
The WolfPack begin training for the 2015-16 Canada West season in early August.