Howlan's Janelle Perry only picked up the sport four years ago
As time ran out, Janelle Perry collapsed in front of the goal she had been protecting as her teammates rushed in for a boisterous celebration.
The goalkeeper from Howlan, P.E.I., had just helped her Ambrose Lions University women’s futsal team from Calgary to their school’s first-ever gold medal in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC). The ACAC is a member of the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA).
Futsal bears similarities to indoor soccer, but is played on a hard court and uses a smaller, heavier ball. Each team puts five players, including a goalkeeper on the court at a time.
With a minute and 10 seconds remaining in regulation time and her team leading the championship final 3-1, Perry stood tall against a penalty kick.
“I just had to really stay calm and just focus on the ball so that when she kicked it, I was able to read it and just make that save and, yeah, I made it!” the daughter of Blair and Brenda Lee Perry told the Journal Pioneer in a telephone interview.
It was an important save, she admits.
“The penalty kick is always something a goalkeeper fears, especially in the last minute in a gold medal game, just because, if the other team would’ve scored that would’ve been an opportunity to come back.”
For her play during the nine-team championship tournament last weekend, Perry received a second team all-tournament award.
"All of my players were checked in and ready to go and my goalie Janelle Perry was on fire, and I knew she would play well,” Ambrose Lions coach Paul Barnett told ACAC sports writer Curtis Phillips. “We were definitely in control of the game and we trusted each other.”
The Lions held on for a 3-1 win over the Kings University Eagles in the gold medal game. They posted a 3-1 record in round-robin, good enough for second place in their pool. They defeated Keyano College, top team from the second pool, 3-2 in their semifinal.
This was Perry’s fourth year on her school team and, also, her fourth year playing futsal.
“I came out here and I decided to go to tryouts. I wasn’t very good at the beginning. We trained three to four times a week and, after four years I got pretty decent,” Perry evaluated her progress.
Her only previous soccer experience was with the Bloomfield Elementary school team.
“I came out to a new sport and I loved it and trained really hard and got to where I am now,” said Perry who obtained a science degree at Ambrose and is now in the first year of a two-year Bachelor of Education degree program heading towards a career as a teacher. Where she ends up, she said, will depend on where the jobs are.
Since Perry didn’t play futsal in her first year at Ambrose, she still has one year of ACAC eligibility remaining. She also plays in a city futsal league in Calgary. Last year Ambrose joined the ACAC soccer league and Perry took up goalkeeping duties with them, too. She admits university soccer was a learning experience for the team.