This season marks a record number of Upper Island Riptide girls playing university and college soccer with 14 alumni playing in Canada and the U.S.
All Riptide member clubs are represented. The Comox Valley United Soccer Club has the most at players seven, Campbell River Youth three, and two each from Powell River Youth and Port Hardy.
The longest serving is Natalie Verdiel from Powell River, a fifth-year player with the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack. Verdiel is joined on the WolfPack by third-year players Camryn Curtis and Danielle Robertson, both from Comox Valley United.
Campbell River’s Emma Skalik and Port Hardy’s Kaleigh Harris enter their sophomore year at the University of Victoria and University of Lethbridge, respectively. Georgia Walkus of Port Hardy is in her rookie year at the University of Lethbridge.
Playing further from home, Charlotte Mohtadi enters her third year at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.
Playing closer to home, Riptide players have contributed to Vancouver Island University league success.
Three players on this year’s roster helped the team win the Pacwest last season. Chloe Gummer from Comox Valley United was the league’s player of the year. Also from CVU, Justine McMahon was a key offensive player while Cassidy Chamberlin was a mainstay in goal.
Drew Murry from Powell River, who isn’t playing this year, was also part of last year’s championship team and was named to the league all-star team. Powell River’s Taylor Kinley has a successful start to her freshman year, enjoying learning a new position and adjusting to college life.
Campbell River’s Madison Stevens and Tommylia Dunbar, along with Comox’s Toni Powsey, are playing in Washington State at Peninsula College. Powsey, a sophomore, will be part of an all-Riptide defence with freshmen Stevens and Dunbar both slotting into the Pirate’s back line.
Riptide technical director Shel Brodsgaard’s focus on preparing players to move to university soccer has seen an increase year-after-year in recruitment.
By establishing relationships with university coaches, players have an opportunity to be trained and seen by these coaches. Drawing on his contacts with the women’s national team, former players have been brought in to discuss recruitment, and the demands of playing university-level soccer. Players also have an opportunity to have recruitment videos produced, opening them to a wider selections of schools.