The University of Ottawa will host the 2018 U SPORTS women's soccer national championship November 8-11. The Gee-Gees have appeared in 13 national championship tournaments in the program's 25-year history, earning nine medals and cementing a tradition of success. Ahead of the 2018 U SPORTS championship, a group of Gee-Gees alumni reflect on their experiences at nationals, and what a home championship will mean for the program.
This week's alumni profile comes from Katarina Vulic who wore the Garnet and Grey from 2004-2007. She won both the OUA and CIS community involvement award in 2007, recognizing a combination of athletics, academics and community involvement. She helped Ottawa to the OUA title in 2006 and a CIS silver medal in 2005. The goalkeeper from Oakville, Ont., studied Biopharmaceutical Sciences.
It was such a privilege to join a program that had a history of excellence. Coming onto the team as a rookie, all of the vets had been to OUA and National Championships. Their leadership, stories and drive to again compete for a National Championship was infectious. And their confidence and work ethic really set the standard. I felt lucky to be part of a team that knew how to win, and wanted to make sure I contributed to that legacy and didn't let down my vets, or Gee-Gee alumni. I knew that Nationals would be tough and that we would have to train as hard, or harder, than any other team in the country so that we could make it to Nationals.
In 2005 at Edmonton, I will never forget entering the penalty shootout against Calgary in the semis against Canadian GK Taryn Swiatek. I inexplicably felt really confident and had such a good feeling about it, walking to net with a big smile on my face. Our first three shooters all buried their shots and I saved 3/4 penalties to give us the win. The sheer elation of qualifying for the final was unbelievable.
In 2006 our first game we drew the hosts, Victoria, who we had lost to the year before in the finals. There were some comments overheard the previous year that got us very riled up to beat Victoria. The coaching staff prepared a detailed scouting report on Victoria and we went over a clearly defined game plan the night before, playing a different system for this one game. And I think Courtney was pressuring their defence and cut off a pass to slot in the eventual game winner. It felt so good to get some revenge on Victoria and knock them out on their home turf.
My final championship was at Cape Breton. This nationals we got off to a difficult start, losing to Cape Breton in our first game (they were the eventual champions that year) and we didn't have our best Nationals performance but that's how it goes some times. We still had a fun time on the East Coast, and it was nice to end my Gee-Gee career with three nationals appearances. Not something many CIS athletes can say, but something a lot of Gee-Gee women's soccer players can.
My Dad flew out to Edmonton and Victoria, which was really special. I was glad he was able to see me play in some of the most important games I've ever played. We were really fortunate that each year several parents and family members were able to fly out to cheer us on. They also developed a good bond with each other, and encouraged us throughout the next seasons to keep winning so that they could fly to Nationals again - it was awesome.
We had so much fun traveling to different parts of Canada and it was very cool to be representing Ottawa and Ontario at the Big Dance. Belting out 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' with the team pre-game was easily the most enjoyable part.
Ottawa is a huge soccer city! It might be a little cold, but it's going to be amazing. I was so happy to hear we would finally be hosting. There's something about having a huge home crowd supporting you that would be very uplifting. I hope the girls really enjoy it this year.
uOttawa has had one of the strongest and most consistent women's soccer programs in the country, and to be able to have all of your family and friends come cheer them on this year will be amazing. Go Gee-Gees Go!