Arcand finds her spot
Through last year’s preseason, Niagara College women’s soccer coach Rob Lalama wasn’t sure where Alyssa Arcand would fit in on the Knights roster.
“There were a lot of unknowns and we weren’t sure where she was going to play,” he said.
All that changed in the first game of the season when a member of the coaching staff suggested the team’s centre midfielders, Sydney Sica and Terin Hultink, would be better suited to forward and that Arcand and Ashley Altamirano should slot in as the team’s centre midfielders.
“What a change as soon as we put her in her comfort zone. I can’t tell you what a remarkable change it was,” Lalama said.
It turned out to be a brilliant move all around. All four players were named to the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association Women’s Soccer South Division All-Star Team, Sica was named the South Division’s player of the year and Hultink and Sica finished one and two in division scoring. Niagara went undefeated in South Division action before bowing out in the OCAA quarter-finals.
“It was kind of rough at first because I wasn’t originally put in to play centre-mid and I had to adapt to play different positions like wing and striker,” Arcand said. “It was my first year and he didn’t know where to put me. As soon as he put me into centre-mid, I adapted to the entire play and the environment. I knew right then and there I was a centre-mid.”
The graduate of Saint-Jean-de-Brébeuf learned a lot in her first season of OCAA action.
“It was a lot quicker pace than it was in travel. The girls are a lot more physical and you are playing with a bunch of different age groups,” the former Niagara International FC player said. “You have to adapt to the size and speed of the girls. It is obviously better players and better everything and it was really hard to adapt to at first because it was a super fast pace and everyone is on you at all times.”
Her best play came in the last month of the season.
“I was shy at first because I didn’t really know anyone on the team, I was trying to adapt to the social aspect, making friends and building that chemistry on the field. In the last month, we all clicked and we all knew where we were on the field at all times.”
The 20-year-old Port Colborne native believes she improved a lot in her first season.
“I have definitely grown. I have more speed and agility and my vision in general as a player is a lot better, playing with better girls and seeing them making their runs,” she said. “It is a lot easier to control play in the middle playing with the high-level girls that I am playing with right now. My communication skills have also gotten better because everyone is always talking on the field.”
Niagara’s women and men open their seasons Friday night at 6 and 8 p.m. at Youngs Sportsplex against Conestoga and the 5-foot-3 player can’t wait for the season to start.
“I’m really excited because I think we have a really good shot at winning,” Arcand said. “There are a lot better girls and everyone is more used to each other now. I feel the chemistry is already there this year compared to last year when everyone was off from playing soccer for two years because of COVID.”
Away from the field, Arcand is studying Occupational Therapist Assistant/Physiotherapist Assistant and is planning to move on to McMaster when she completes her diploma. She is hoping to do a masters degree in physiotherapy.