You can’t blame RDC Queens’ coach Jerry Gerling for being just a little bit excited about the upcoming Alberta Colleges Women’s Soccer League season.
The Queens have as much talent in camp as they’ve had in years.
“When you look at the 18 we have on the roster, this is the strongest team, with the strongest bench, I’ve had,” said Gerling. “It’s a great luxury to have.
“We can go into a weekend doubleheader and not worry about someone wearing out, or if we have an injury our level of play isn’t going to drop.”
Outside of the 18 players on the roster, Gerling also has four red shirts.
“Any other year they would have made the team,” he said. “Although a couple of them do have injuries, which will keep them out anyway.”
Gerling has 10 returnees on the roster, four others who have ACAC experience, and veteran Chantal MacIsaac, who is injured and listed as a red shirt.
The Queens have keeper Brittany Baker back and she’ll be backed up by Caitlyn McDougall, who played with Grande Prairie College two years ago.
The Queens defence is anchored by fifth-year veteran Samantha Vockerorth, who’ll team with Stephanie Thurston and Stephanie Tremblay.
Thurston is in her third season while Tremblay, who led the team in scoring last year with seven goals in 10 games, has moved back this year.
“Those three have a lot of experience and have come together very quickly,” said Gerling, who can also use veteran Kayla Keenan on defence.
Keenan and Katelyn LaGrange tied for second in team scoring last season with three goals each.
Other veterans on hand are midfielders Lauren Bowman and Megan Jevne and forwards Kassie Pritchard and Leslie-Ann Kroeker.
Pritchard will fill in as one of the striker positions along with Allison Walsh, who played two years ago, and impressive rookie Kayla Rogers, who played with the Red Deer United U18 team, which finished second in the province.
Midfielder Moira Duley was also with the U18 program.
Two others — midfielders Samantha Martin and Sarah Fulmer — have ACAC experience. Martin was with Grande Prairie two years ago and Fulmer with MacEwan last season.
The other new face with the team is 23-year-old midfielder Sarah Palmer of Red Deer.
Tayler Letwin, who was with the U18 team, Kylie Morrison of Slave Lake and Shannon Middlemiss of St. Albert, who has an bad ankle, are also red shirting.
“Shannon would have a shot at making our starting lineup without the injury,” said Gerling, who hopes to play a wide open style this season.
“We’re changing our attitude a bit, so that we do have more offence,” he said.
“Not that we’ll forget about the defence, but if someone does score three goals against us we want to score four.”
While Gerling is excited about the season he isn’t about to jump up and make any wild predictions.
“You never know about the rest of the league,” he said.
“I know Lethbridge and SAIT are stronger and Mount Royal is always good. We have a very tough schedule having to face Mount Royal and Medicine Hat three times each.”
The Queens open their schedule Sunday at noon at RDC against Medicine Hat.
l Dave Colley will be an assistant coach.