CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Jen Balderston and Danielle Younker are looking to do something they haven’t done during their university soccer careers – earn a playoff spot.
“We haven’t made it in a few years, so we all want a chance at it,” said Younker, a fourth-year centre back from Charlottetown. “I think this is the year we could do it and we can prove to everybody we can make it.”
The UPEI Panthers, who haven’t qualified for the post-season since 2014, got off to a good start in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) regular season, earning a tie in St. John’s, N.L., last weekend against Memorial.
“That point was definitely a big point to get,” said Younker, a fourth-year biology student. “It was a good way to start the season and hopefully we’ll just continue from there and build on it and get some more points this weekend.”
The Panthers (0-1-1) host the Mount Allison Mounties (0-2-0) today at 5 p.m. in their home opener and the Cape Breton Capers (2-0-0) Sunday at 1 p.m. The Capers finished second in the country last season.
“I don't think we should get ahead of ourselves,” Balderston said. “CBU is going to be a big game, so we really have to put it out of our minds until the day comes.”
Head coach Graeme McDonald said his squad will need to be patient tonight against the Mounties.
“It’s one of those games where you can’t rush things,” he said. “They’re organized, so we’ll have to try and capitalize on the opportunities we get.”
Balderston, a centre midfielder from Cornwall, said it is important for them to play well in their first home game of the season.
“We really want to score and win on our home turf,” said the 21-year-old nursing student.
Younker said she has seen the team get older and gain more experience during the past few years. A lot of the team is from Prince Edward Island and some have played against and with each other since under-13.
“We’ve grown up together, and finally we get to play at university together,” Younker said.
A look at this week’s UPEI Panthers athletics and recreation sports schedule.
5 p.m. – Mount Allison at UPEI (home opener)
7:15 p.m. – Mount Allison at UPEI (home opener)
7 p.m. – UPEI at St. Thomas (exhibition)
7 p.m. – Moncton at UPEI (exhibition)
UPEI Panther cross country invitational at Victoria Park
11 a.m. – Junior high male and female (3 km)
Noon – AUS/high school female (5 km)
12:45 p.m. – AUS/high school male (6 km)
2 p.m. – St. FX at UPEI (home opener)
2 p.m. – UPEI at UNB
7:30 p.m. – Panther night out at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park.
1 p.m. – Cape Breton at UPEI.
2 p.m. – UPEI vs. Saint Mary’s, in Truro, N.S., (exhibition)
3:15 p.m. – Cape Breton at UPEI.