This is beginning to be more than a trend.
The New Westminster Rush finished another soccer season in familiar fashion, capturing the Metro Women’s Soccer League’s Classic (over-30) Div. 2 Cup.
After three seasons in Div. 3, the Rush didn’t skip a beat upon their promotion to the second division, romping undefeated through league play and culminating with Sunday’s 2-1 victory over the Richmond Breakers.
For a team that began four years ago almost as a lark and a reason for a core group of lifetime friends to get together, the on-field success seems to go hand-in-hand with the bonds they have off the field.
“For me, in all my years in sports and coaching, I’ve never seen a group have the camaraderie that this team has,” remarked coach Gord de Graaf. “They are all in, playing for each other.”
Kelly Di Stefano and Kim Susheski, with her fifth goal in the three-game cup march, supplied the offence, as the Rush took the lead 10 minutes into the contest, but needed a late tally to pull out the victory. Liz Porter provided the crucial set-up play for the winner.
“It was a beautiful set-up by (Porter), she played the ball to (Di Stefano) and she nutmegged it,” said de Graaf.
Deniece Kazuta also tallied five times in the playoffs, which saw the Rush edge Kuna 1-0 and blast the West Coast Breakers 9-0 to advance to the final. It put their record at 16-3-0, having outscored the competition 61-10 and kept it fun all the time.
To think it all started when realtor Courtenay Edwardes called up Lara De Witt and Porter, her school friends, and asked if a recreational soccer team might be a fun way to stay in touch. They jumped at it.
“I wanted to play soccer in New West, my son was playing organized sports, and I thought, why not?,” said Edwardes. “I called Liz and Lara to see if they were interested and they were. ...
“It could have been a different sport or a different thing. We just found something fun to keep connected, and something we’re kind of good at.”
When life-changing events, like careers, marriages and children entered the picture, it became understandably harder to stay in touch. But for this group of 35-plus players, who nearly all hold tight New West ties, the game is an extension of yesterday and today.
“It’s so much more than soccer,” said Edwardes. “Every single girl on this team is great. The synergy is great. It’s all positive.”
Among the core players who have stuck to the team, four players took up the sport for the first time. They’ve continued to grow and play vital roles, said de Graaf.
“We’ve got a mish-mosh of experience levels, with players who played at a high level to those who never played. It’s quite incredible,” he said.
Having dominated so convincingly, there’s a good chance the Rush – who called themselves the New West Cougars during their first three years – could be promoted.
The Rush’s roster includes: Christy Beattie, Leni Burton, Lara DeWitt, Kelly Di Stefano, Melissa Di Stefano, Tara Domaas, Courtenay Edwardes, Lindsay Edwardes, Jamie Ferguson, Rebecca Fruhm, Deniece Kazuta, Heather Lazzer, Krista Lee, Emily MacLeod, Marney MacLeod, Liz Porter, Steph Purvis, Tonya Roy, Erin Sison and Kim Susheski.