As an underdog, the Douglas College women’s soccer team understood the huge obstacle before them.
But they were also aware of their own capabilities, and aimed to place everything on the table this weekend.
The women’s Royals are playing host to the best teams from the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association at the national championships at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park.
The tourney began for Douglas on Wednesday, when they went head-to-head with four-time defending national champion Elan de Garneau.
It proved to be a tsunami.
Garneau rolled to a 4-0 win, bouncing the Royals into the consolation bracket.
They did rebound on Thursday, knocking off the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Trojans 4-1.
Although they were unable to successfully defend their provincial title, knowing they had a berth guaranteed at the nationals allowed for some strategizing.
Now, making a fourth straight national appearance has given the program a certain gravitas when it comes to expectations.
“I think the closest comparison we had in our games this year to Garneau was (an exhibition match in August) against UBC. Although that score (4-0 for the Canada West team) wasn’t flattering in the end, we were able to match them in many aspects,” Douglas head coach Brad Laxton said.
They met Garneau at the nationals last year and fell 1-0 – an impressive showing for the Royals, said Laxton.
Ranked eighth in the final pre-season national poll, the Royals can finish no higher than fourth.
Prior to the start of the nationals, Douglas captain Sam Kell was named to the All-Canadian list. The fifth-year standout is just one of the leaders on this year’s squad.
Games continue Friday with consolation round match-ups, including Douglas facing Wednesday’s loser in a Northern Alberta-St. Lambert semifinal at 10 a.m. The final goes Saturday at 3 p.m.