Ten years after capturing their first CIS national championship title, the Trinity Western Spartans are hoping to make history once again.
Last year saw the Spartans women’s soccer team win their fifth CIS title, tying the UBC Thunderbirds for the most all-time.
The Spartans — who have won four of the past six titles — are also aiming to become the first women’s team to capture three consecutive titles.
And Trinity Western returns seven of their 11 starters from last year’s squad, which went 8-1-3 in the regular season and then 5-1 in the post-season.
They open the season ranked second in the country.
“I think to call us one of the favourites would be a stretch, but we are one of the stronger teams,” said coach Graham Roxburgh.
“We will have to come together very quickly because in some ways, we are a very new team.”
Roxburgh said the team is transition from one era to the next.
“Obviously our veteran core are going to have to step up and lead well,” he said.
Once again leading the offence will be striker Krista Gommeringer, a CIS second team all-Canadian last year.
In her two seasons in the Spartan blue and gold, Gommeringer has tallied 23 goals in 24 games, the most of any Canada West player.
She will be joined by Jessica King, who as both a forward and a midfielder, has developed into a key component of the Spartans attack.
CIS first-team all-Canadian Vanessa Kovacs will direct the team from the middle of the park, and will be joined by Jenna Di Nunzio, Stephanie Chin and at times, King, to form an impressive midfield unit.
The back-end will be led by centre-back Jennifer Castillo, a Canada West first team all-star in 2013, who has done a masterful job of securing the Spartans defence. Assisting her in that role will Kristen Santema.
Goaltending will be completely new for the Spartans.
The biggest question mark for the team will be in goal as Christina Oliverio will battle with a pair of first-year rookies in Rachel Sydor and Sophia Traxler for minutes in the crease.
The team did add Langley FC product Ally Williamson, but the goalkeeper transferred from UBC and must sit out a season per CIS transfer rules.
She was the Canada West rookie of the year in 2011 for the Thunderbirds.
The Spartans went 1-5 in the preseason against college and university teams from Washington State and Oregon last month.
Trinity Western opens the Canada West season with a home game at Rogers Field on the school campus on Sept. 5 at 5 p.m. They then travel to Victoria the next morning to face the UVic Vikes, also at 5 p.m.