A trio of Pinnacles FC products reflected on their first season playing university soccer in the Canada West Conference of U Sports, formerly known as Canadian Interuniversity Sport.
Used to being a starter with PFC, Brady Van Ryswyk headed to Kamloops with a desire to win the keepers top spot with the Thompson River University WolfPack. It didn’t work out that way for Van Ryswyk, who saw action in the final 45 minutes of two games, but both were against strong teams — the UBC Thunderbirds and University of Alberta Golden Bears.
“It was eye opening for me to be not starting like I usually am,” said Van Ryswyk, who lost the battle for the goalkeepers position to High River’s Clay Harsany. “It was good to become a team player and really build my character.”
Against the Thunderbirds, the Wolfpack trailed 2-0 when Van Ryswyk entered the game. The final was 2-1 and he made two saves and had felt good about himself knowing he could play against a top team. The loss resulted in the WolfPack’s season ending as they missed the playoffs. Despite seeing limited action, the PFC product said the year was a great experience. Van Ryswyk said playing in Canada West is similar to the Pacific Coast Soccer League, but not when it comes to quickness.
Van Ryswyk’s battle with Claye Harsany was good, but being a rookie, he didn’t fully know what to expect.
“I thought I did really well just for my first season,” he said. “Getting into a game against the top team (University of Alberta) in the nation is pretty mind blowing.”
Van Ryswyk learned a lot and knows he needs to be fit and when he isn’t playing, to support his teammates.
“You never know when you are going to get your shot,” he said. “It was character building for me.”
Along with becoming more fit, Van Ryswyk also intends to communicate more with his teammates. He looks forward to getting more playing time next season, especially since the WolfPack are hosting the national championship.
Supporting her team from the bench, it was tough for Jenkins to watch her Mount Royal Cougars (four wins, six losses and four ties) lose 1-0 to the MacEwen Griffins (8-3-3) in the Canada West divisional play-in game. Jenkins, a midfielder, said the loss was frustrating as they felt they had the better side.
Jenkins only action came against their biggest rival, the University of Calgary Dinos in a 1-1 draw.
“That was pretty cool. It’s a lot more intense and fast,” she said.
Making the jump from the PFC program, Jenkins said she didn’t find it to be that much of a transition to university soccer. The Cougars play a similar possession style as the Pinnacles FC, which was the reason she chose the program as well as for the universities athletic therapy program.
“The physicality is definitely a lot higher at the CIS level and the speed of play is super quick,” she said. “You do not have very much time on the ball compared to youth. Those were definitely some big changes.”
To earn a bigger role, Jenkins must improve her long ball kicks, speed and fitness. The assets she brings are being vocal on the field and her IQ. She likes to play a possession game with short passes and enjoys dribbling the ball in tight quarters as she thrives off of pressure.
To be ready for next season, Jenkins will train once a week and the players are expected to do fitness each day. The Cougars will then have a spring/summer season which she will play in.
Boehmer’s job with the Trinity Western University Spartans this season was to push his teammates in training. The Okanagan Falls native didn’t get any game action, but played a critical role in the eyes of coach Mike Shearon.
“Everyone contributes,” said Shearon. “Training players made the team better.”
Boehmer helped the Spartans, who finished second in the Canada West Pacific Division with a 9-5-2 record, advance to the semifinal, where they lost to the eventual national champion University of Alberta Golden Bears, 1-0.
“That was a disappointing loss. We really wanted to get to nationals this year,” said Boehmer. “It was really good growth for the team from where we were before. It’s setting us up for next season well.”
Boehmer, who played in the Pacific Coast Soccer League last season with the Pinnacles, said not playing was tough, but he called it a growing experience.
“Seeing the other players at another level than what you are used to, it’s really good to have the competition within the team. Keep battling. Working for your spot.”
As long as Boehmer, a defender, keeps working and heading in the right direction, Shearon sees the Penticton Christian School grad contributing on the field.
“He came to a group that was established in the back,” said Shearon. “Being ranked nationally is not easy to break in. It’s a matter of him working hard. He can make it.”
Shearon sees the potential in Boehmer being a backline player. He said Boehmer is a great kid who puts in an honest effort. What he likes is Boehmer’s athletic ability and said he possesses good feet for a taller (six-foot-three, 155 pounds) player. Shearon said the challenge for any rookie coming into Canada West play is dealing with the physical side, speed and decision making. He said the style of play is unique because it’s a hybrid of youth and men’s soccer.
Boehmer’s focus is to ensure he is fit.
“Everyone on the team is so much fitter than what you are used to,” he said, adding that building his confidence is another area. “Being confident in your ability of what you can do.”