Concordia Thunder Women’s soccer team are set to host the CCAA national championships in Edmonton.
The college side finished the season tied for first place with NAIT Ooks in the ACAC North Division. Both teams had an impressive record of 11W-1L-0T and they finished level on points with 33.
The two sides would meet in the provincial finals. Because NAIT finished first in the standings, they received a bye for the opening round of the championship weekend. NAIT edged the provincial finals by a 3-2 score line.
“We went into provincials knowing that we can play against anybody, and we did,” Concordia Head Coach Franco Imbrogno said. “We had some excellent moments at provincials. We had a tougher schedule, we played an extra game than NAIT, and on top of that we went into extra time. So you feel that down the stretch of the match. But we had amazing moments throughout that game where we controlled the game and the play.”
The progress of this Concordia side has been great. Coached by Franco Imbrogno, who is in his fifth season with the Thunder, he has guided the team to another chance at a national championship. This year’s side is a fairly young team, with most the team being fairly new to the program.
“The challenge is that it’s a process, you can’t build a team over night,” Imbrogno added. “They come in like a blank canvas and they end up becoming a mature players at the end. They’ve come from youth programs where they played a lot, but now their roles have changed and they have things to adapt to the women’s game.
“Our season is so short that if you don’t do your training in the off-season, then you’re not going to have success. When they first come in to the program, their athleticism is off. I think their off-season maturity is something they got better at each year. They set themselves up for success in the off-season. You have to work hard and have commitment if you want to win otherwise you’ll never win.”
Last year the side finished third in the standings and fourth in provincials. The roster is fairly young and sometimes the best thing that can happen to a young team is to suffer heart break. It teaches you a lot and you gain a lot of necessary experience that is required in order to become a championship side.
As the team preps for the national’s weekend, Imbrogno is hoping to see more of the same from his side. The belief within the side is that they can compete with whoever they face on the field and he is hoping that confidence will continue into this week.
“I am expecting for us to play our game, work the ball and compete,” Imbrogno added. “Just do the things we have done all season. I am confident in our teams’ mindset that we are going to go out there and compete and give us the best chance to win.”
Imbrogno has been at nationals before and he knows what it takes to win it all. He’s been to nationals once with the thunder and about a dozen times with Victoria Soccer Club, who compete in the AMSL. He was apart of the dynasty at Victoria, which saw the club win seven national championships.
Having been to this stage before, his experience will come handy and his message to his players is simple.
“You have to enjoy the process, every single moment of the games and the entire week. If you give everything on the field and commit, they’ll enjoy the games and have success. Keep things simple, go out there and work hard. Whatever is in the cards is in the cards. Sometimes you have to be good and you also needed luck as well.”