It was a historic season for the only collegiate women’s soccer program in Red Deer.
The Red Deer Polytechnic Queens soccer team went from losing their first game to winning 11 straight matches enroute to being crowned Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Champions for the first in Queens Soccer history.
The season started way back in August when preseason kicked off for the 2022 ACAC Soccer season which is where Head Coach Mahziar Peyrow announced to the team they were going to go to nationals.
“I made a promise when I took over as head coach which was, I would not stop until the Queens were in the spotlight. We were going to make enough noise for people to sit up and pay attention to them. The ladies and the rest of the coaching staff all bought into the same goal and away we went to write our story.”
The pre-season started out rocky for the squad as they were making some changes to the roles of the players and formations. They managed to push through with extra training bringing us to two sessions a day, three days a week with some friendly matches over the weekend.
During this time, the Queens worked hard on fitness, rhythm play and possession to increase their speed of play with the SAIT Trojans in their sights for their home opener. They did not know this was going to be their only loss of the ACAC season. After suffering a 4-3 loss, they would go on to win 11 straight games including a 2-1 win against the Trojans on their own turf and the ACAC Championship match in Lethbridge against the Concordia University Thunder.
Peyrow explained he was hard on his team but that was only because he knew they were all extremely talented.
“I brought in players that could work well with the players we had, and the ladies all worked extremely hard to accomplish the style of play that I wanted to see from them. They move the ball well and did so with purpose. The girls played with a form of togetherness and our pace of game was difficult for others to compete with.”
Fifth-year forward Alisha Coules (Bachelor of Science – Nursing) said the South Division Coach of the Year was unique in his own way.
“He sets a vision and accomplishes it. Mahziar, who is driven and passionate, will push the girls beyond their limits.”
Reflecting on her final season within the Queens Soccer program as she is graduating this school year, Coules explained this was her favourite year and that is not just because of the successes.
“Every girl and player on our team added significant value in creating a culture of support and encouragement. This year was different in terms of actually feeling like a family.”
Peyrow reiterated this point by saying they all played as a team with togetherness and sharing in all the accomplishments, both individually and as a whole. Each one of the girls supported each other and encourage one another to be one percent better every day.
On top of winning the ACAC Championship, the Red Deer women’s soccer team also had many individual awards. Midfielders’ Estel and Sofia Quinteros, and striker Sein Furuyama were named to the ACAC South Division All-Conference team. Sofia Quinteros (Bachelor of Science - Psychology) was also named theACAC Championship MVP for her incredible work in the midfield whether it was slowing down the attack of the opposing team or starting up an offensive push from their own zone.
For Furuyama, who hails from Kobe, Japan, it was an outstanding year in her rookie season with the Queens. She finished with 29 goals which is now the Single Season Record for Goals in the ACAC. The Japan-native was named the South Player and Rookie of the Year. Furuyama would finish off her season grabbing one more piece of hardware which was an All-Canadian Award at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Nationals in Saint-Lambert, QC.
Coules got to know Furuyama throughout the year on and off the pitch.
“She is such a kindhearted, enthusiastic person who cares for everyone around her. Despite all of those accomplishments, she looked at the team who got her there which makes her very unique.”
At nationals, the Queens would finish in sixth place. They would drop their opening match against the Champlain College Cavaliers 1-0 before bouncing back with a 2-0 victory against Les Rouges de Saint Boniface to send them off to the bronze medal semi-finals. This match was definitely their toughest match of the season as the Seneca Sting were ranked at number two in the nation coming into the championships. They would fall 1-0 and later be defeated 2-0 by the Humber Hawks in the fifth/sixth place match to end off their nationals run.
But all in all, it was an incredible season regardless of the end results at the CCAA Championships and the Queens are determined to return to nationals in the years to come. Peyrow explained this is just the tip of the iceberg.
“Sein is committed for another season with us so is Sofia Quinteros. She had an amazing season. Sofia is the pulse of the team along with her sister Estel, who is also returning for another year. The future is strong with RDP. We are bringing in new talent to work off the very talented players the Queens program has already.”