Sports

Professional alternative might shift U Sports activities girls’s soccer panorama forward of 2024 marketing campaign

When the 2024 U Sports activities girls’s soccer season begins, particular person efficiency can be extra essential than previously.

With the introduction of Mission 8, the incoming Canadian girls’s skilled league, the panorama is altering for student-athletes nationwide.

Whereas 17 former Canadian college girls’s soccer gamers performed skilled video games in 2023-24, and U Sports activities alumni Desiree Scott and Marie-Yasmine Alidou often seem for the Canadian girls’s nationwide staff, the skilled pathway hasn’t been there domestically.

Though particulars surrounding Mission 8’s contractual intricacies have but to be confirmed, the league has promoted filling the void past commencement on its platforms, and the affect on U Sports activities will seemingly be extra vital than that of the Canadian Premier League (CPL), the boys’s professional league launched in 2019. 

The CPL drafts two rounds of gamers from U Sports activities every year and gives developmental contracts to offer knowledgeable pathway; nonetheless, usually, lower than half of the draft picks play aggressive matches every year.

WATCH | Relive the perfect moments from the 2023-24 U Sports activities seasons:

Prime U Sports activities moments to conclude the 2024 season

As we wrap up this 12 months’s season, listed here are among the key moments that solidified one other eventful U Sports activities marketing campaign, from Laval males’s staff profitable its first-ever basketball championship to UNB Reds going undefeated.

“Enjoying professionally has been a purpose of mine for a very long time, and Mission 8 is someplace I would love to play, and I could not be happier that it is lastly turning into a actuality in Canada,” UBC rookie midfielder Bailey Doerksen mentioned after profitable the 2023 nationwide championship. “We now have tremendous influential folks, like Diana [Matheson], who’re collaborating in rising this sport, and you’ll really feel quite a lot of positivity proper now.”

At particular person packages, the expertise improvement course of may also shift within the coming 12 months. Though the main target stays on particular person enchancment within the staff setting, constructing a stable base and resumé for the highest student-athletes can be extra essential than ever.

For College of Toronto head coach Angelo Cavalluzzo, who additionally coaches Alliance United in League 1 Canada, the nation’s highest pro-am membership stage for girls’s soccer — that includes a whole bunch who additionally play U Sports activities — the shift to knowledgeable outlook is obvious even when only a easy adjustment.

Three women's soccer players battle for the ball with one attacking player wearing a blue shirt and two defenders in red.
The Toronto Varsity Blues girls’s soccer program is academically rigourous, however nonetheless has eyes on the skilled sport with Mission 8 looming. (Neil Patel/Toronto Varsity Blues Athletics)

“It is good to have the ability to say to the gamers that that is one thing that is arising, and performances matter via U Sports activities after which League 1 in the summertime, the place most of the gamers get seen,” he mentioned. “It is a actually good time for them to all be enjoying aggressive soccer at a excessive stage, with the hope that as these Mission 8 squads get constructed, there’s going to be an urge for food for U Sports activities and NCAA gamers.”

Because the Skilled Ladies’s Hockey League adjustments the outlook for female-identifying gamers within the NCAA, U Sports activities, and youth leagues, the same shift is sure for soccer in 2025, with never-before-seen skilled alternatives for Canadian girls’s soccer gamers. 

CFL, NFL Drafts approaches for standouts

With celebrations seemingly wrapped up for the Montreal Carabins after profitable the 2023 Vanier Cup in November, consideration strikes to April’s CFL and NFL Drafts for the highest expertise in U Sports activities. Though the CFL Draft presents a typical vacation spot, the NFL might not be too far off in 2024.

By way of the 2023 season, a number of NFL groups inquired about U Sports activities gamers, with 11 NFL golf equipment visiting the UBC Thunderbirds, along with the same old CFL suspects.

“It reveals the form of expertise that we’re bringing into our program and the form of improvement that we’re capable of present these athletes,” UBC head coach Blake Nill mentioned. “If you happen to can present you could put guys within the large league down south, it makes your program far more enticing to the younger expertise throughout the nation.”

WATCH | Montreal Carabins rejoice Vanier Cup win over UBC:

‘Extraordinarily proud’: Coach Marco Iadeluca relishes Montreal Carabins’ 1st Vanier Cup title in 9 years

The Montreal Carabins beat the UBC Thunderbirds 16-9 to win the 2023 Vanier Cup, turning into Canadian College Soccer Champions.

Nonetheless, the main target stays on the CFL Draft as the highest gamers search additional alternatives within the 2024 season and past.

UBC offensive lineman Giovanni Manu, one of many touted gamers on the 2023 Canada West champions, might discover himself picked excessive within the draft and probably by his hometown BC Lions. Given his athleticism and pace, deciding on the Pitt Meadows, B.C., native might be a savvy high-pick transfer, with the potential of signing as an undrafted free-agent within the NFL not lengthy after.

Manu and fellow offensive lineman Theo Benedet had been the primary pursuits of NFL golf equipment.

Outdoors of Manu, different prime gamers inside high-pick rivalry within the CFL Draft might embrace Windsor’s George Una, Laurier’s Luke Brubacher, and Laval’s Kevin Mital, who received the 2022 Hec Creighton Award and Vanier Cup MVP together with his 58 receptions, 751 yards and 12 touchdowns via that marketing campaign.

The NFL Draft runs from April 25-27, whereas the CFL Draft takes place on April 30.

Modifications loom for shrinking RSEQ hockey convention

Getting into the 2024-25 U Sports activities season because the reigning nationwide champions, the Concordia College Stingers can have a really completely different outlook of their convention subsequent season, with simply three opponents on the aggressive schedule. 

With the uOttawa Gee-Gees and Carleton Ravens shifting to Ontario’s OUA convention and leaving Quebec’s RSEQ, the Stingers will solely play the Bishop’s College Gaiters, Montreal Carabins, and McGill College Martlets via subsequent season — a lightweight schedule as they hope to defend a nationwide title.

Whereas males’s groups in Quebec all compete within the OUA, that transfer is not on the playing cards for 2024-25 within the girls’s sport, leaving the 4 faculties in a precarious place to take care of competitiveness.

Adapting to the brand new state of affairs, head coach Julie Chu and the Stingers will look to additional bolster the pre-season with non-conference opponents, as they’ve performed previously, however to an additional extent.

In 2023’s pre-season and non-conference schedule, the Stingers confronted UBC, Trinity Western, Saint Mary’s and Queen’s whereas additionally visiting NCAA packages at Harvard and Dartmouth.

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