Red Deer Renegades head coach Paul Morigeau is glad he’s not living in the past.
“Ten or 11 years ago if we had the same situation as this year, it would be a disaster,” said Morigeau looking at his roster heading into the Alberta Major Women’s Soccer League season.
“We have about a 50 per cent turnover from last year and we couldn’t have handled that in the past, but we have a strong pipeline with the college (RDC) and this year Camrose (the University of Alberta, Augustana) has come on board, plus we have a strong minor program.”
RDC head coach Dave Colley and Paul Stone from Camrose both want their players involved in the AMSL, according to Morigeau.
“It comes down to the coaches wanting their players competing at a high level,” he said. “It’s good for them as they’re prepared for their college season.”
Four members of last year’s RDC Queens — Adi Moyer, Celine Jensen, Kayla Blacquiere and Kaitlin D’Arcy — are on this year’s Renegades’ roster. Moyer is one of the premier defensive players in the province. But she is nursing a foot injury that may keep her sidelined early in the season.
“Adi is an important part of the team — we can use her veteran presence,” said Morigeau. “But Jensen joined us this year and is a solid addition.”
A number of players have come up through the Red Deer minor system, including several who are still eligible to play with the U18 program.
One of those is outstanding keeper Chantal Park. Park, who was eligible for the U16 team last year, played briefly with the Renegades, both in goal and on defence. She will play a similar role this year, especially with Micayla Stone also on hand.
Stone, who is from Camrose, played with the Renegades U18 team last year and the University of Lethbridge. She also saw some action with the Renegades.
“We’re lucky to have two top young keepers,” said Morigeau. “Chantal was a provincial goalie and Micayla a full-time player with the University of Lethbridge. Having both of them gives us a chance to use Chantal out when needed.”
Last year was the best in the decade the Renegades have been in the AMSL — they finished with a 5-9 record and in sixth place, making the playoffs.
“Last year was a step forward for us for sure,” said Morigeau, who took control of the team late in the season after Ado Sarcevic left on vacation to Europe.
This year, Sarcevic has additional work with the Red Deer City Soccer Association so doesn’t have the time to commit to the team. He will continue to help with the technical side as much as he can, says Morigeau.
Karl Jevne and Brad Hughes will be assistant coaches, with Esad Elkaz also providing technical support.
Morigeau liked what he saw from last year’s team, which finished with 30 goals for, which far surpassed any previous total.
“We all got excited about the scoring and as coaches we overlooked the defensive side,” said Morigeau.
“We have solid keepers and we have to work on defence. We can’t trade chances. It’s nice that we can score, and we will again this year, but defence is still the key to winning.”
Former RDC striker Paula Dadensky, who is one of the top scorers in the AMSL and played with the University of Alberta Pandas last season, will return after she fully recovers from a concussion. Sydney Daines, who has committed to RDC, will also add scoring. Savanna Pratt, up from the U18 program, is also committed to RDC.
Megan Jevne returns to the team this year while newcomer Leanne Worr has impressed everyone.
“Leanne played university soccer and has a good presence on the field … she’s turned a lot of heads.”
Morigeau has been with the Renegades since their inception, although he did step behind the scenes for a couple of years.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes over the last 11 years and the program continues to grow … we now have a high level of athletes involved.”