Gee-Gees believe team play is key to championship in 2018
It’s been a thunderous start for the season for the Gee-Gees women’s soccer squad, who have sustained only one loss this season.
Leading the way in particular is third-year forward Emma Lefebvre, with veteran goalkeeper Margot Shore shoring up the net.
After eight games, Lefebvre leads the OUA conference in all the major categories: goals, points, and assists, while Shore has a goals against average of one per game, which has helped her team remain at the top of the standings so far.
This week, Lefebvre and Shore talked soccer with the Fulcrum, as well as life off the pitch.
All roads lead to Ottawa
Born and raised in Kingston, Ont., Lefebvre grew up on the pitch, lacing up her cleats for the first time at three years old.
Discovered and recruited by Gee-Gees scout Mark Fowler in Grade 11 at a showcase tournament in Ottawa, Lefebvre was sold by the campus and the nursing program and, after graduating high school, made the decision to bring her talents to the capital.
As for Shore, an Ottawa native, she played soccer as a teen with the Ottawa Fury women’s team.
There she was scouted by the University of Pittsburgh and offered a scholarship at the institution. She would spend parts of two seasons in the Steel City, before transferring to the U of O for the 2016 season.
Johnson a strong influence
At the helm of the women’s soccer team since 1994, Steve Johnson has been a strong influence on both women.
“He has made me work on different styles of goalkeeping and has had unwavering trust in my abilities, even when the going gets tough,” Shore said.
Lefebvre also said Johnson had a major impact on her game.
“His experience and laid-back coaching style has helped me flourish into the goalscorer I am today,” Lefebvre said.
Both have the utmost respect for their coach, who they say has seen it all and tries his best to get the team ready and pumped for game days.
Team play to credit for strong start
Currently sitting at first place in their division, the goal for both women is to lead their team to a championship.
When asked what they think makes this team different from last year’s, they both say this team has better chemistry and sticks more together as a team on and off the field.
“We as a team have been better at capitalizing on scoring chances this year, we’ve been able to finish way more than in previous scores, and it shows by the scores we’ve been winning by,” Lefebvre said.
Shore said she believes this has helped her personally.
“Having a comfortable lead of more than a goal makes me not have to worry that if I get scored on, the game’s tied or we’ll be down a goal,” she said. “I also know my teammates can get it right back if we get scored on, and that’s a great confidence booster for a keeper.”
As for their personal success, Shore attributes this to her teammates and coaches.
The low amount of shots on goal she’s faced, the team’s strong offence, and the team’s strong possession stats are all factors to which she attributes her success this year.
For Lefebvre, she credits a lot of her success to the team’s strong transition game.
She also said her attitude towards soccer has changed, instead of going out on the pitch and hoping to score, she tells herself that she’s going to score regardless of who they might be playing that night.
A healthy balance between school and soccer vital
When it comes to managing soccer and school, both said it’s a tough task but doable.
Both enrolled in programs demanding an extreme amount of studying and work outside the classroom, they bring their textbooks and laptops everywhere.
“It’s not a rare sight to see (Lefebvre) reading Bible-sized textbooks in the bus on the way to road games, or finishing essays,” Shore said.
As for their athletic obligations, both acknowledge spending an average of 17 hours per week doing soccer-related activities, while concentrating the rest of their efforts on school and maintaining a social life.
Lefebvre and Shore also believe that as leaders and veterans, it’s their responsibility to make sure rookies get the help they need and integrate into the team.
“I think it’s important for us to show the younger girls the right way, like we were shown when we were younger, so that they can lead in the future when we’re gone,” Lefebvre said.
The Gee-Gees will be in action again with the rest of the women’s soccer squad on the road in Kingston versus the Queen’s Gaels and RMC Paladins in a homecoming for Lefebvre, on Sept. 22 and 23, respectively.