Rookie off to quick start
Julieanne Buist has been everything the Niagara College Knights thought she would be — and then some.
The Knights recruited the 17-year-old Canfield native hoping she would be a piece of the puzzle on the women’s soccer team this season, and so far Buist has more than lived up to those expectations.
“This was a girl that was on our radar,” head coach Rob Lalama said. “But we have been so impressed by her immediate success — she scored five goals in the pre-season and now has three in the regular season.
“She has been a nice, pleasant surprise.”
Buist was discovered by Rino Berardi, who doubles as the men’s assistant coach and scouts for both the men’s and women’s teams.
“When scouting potential collegiate soccer players, the priority is to seek skilled players who also possess natural athleticism – and in Julie’s case, she checked those boxes,” Berardi said. “She is a strong, powerful runner and can strike a ball with a lot of pace. When the coaches first saw her play, it was abundantly clear she would be successful at the collegiate level.”
Buist, who turns 18 on New Year’s Eve, is enjoying her early success.
“For sure, it’s been sweet,” the Smithville District Christian High School graduate said. “It’s been super-awesome playing at the college level.
“I feel like I can keep up pretty easily. I think the biggest adjustment is training every single day. I wasn’t used to that but it’s been fun.”
Buist, who is majoring in Office Administration — Health Services, almost didn’t make it to Niagara. She was also considering Mohawk College.
“I ended up choosing Niagara and then coach Rob contacted me and told me he watched a couple of my games with Club Roma so then I came to tryouts and it kind of worked out perfectly,” she said. “As soon as I was accepted to go to Niagara I was planning on trying out for soccer because I loved it.”
Buist normally lines up as a striker, but has been utilized as a right half this season.
“This is the first year I’ve played in the right midfield permanently. I’m used to pushing up. It’s been a good challenge learning a new position,” she said.
She said the pace of the collegiate game is an eye-opener.
“Rob teaches us every practice high pressure, defensively and offensively. Other teams I played on you could be more relaxed because the other team wasn’t as fast or aggressive but at the college level it’s definitely faster.”
Buist has quickly acclimatized herself to a student-athlete’s hectic schedule.
“It has been a lot to get used to with my schoolwork and soccer but I find after going to school all day, at night it’s reenergizing to go play soccer for a couple of hours,” she said. “It’s good to do something different and be outside.”
Buist’s contributions have been a big reason the Knights are off to a 3-1 start and have been ranked as high as third in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association and eighth in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association weekly rankings.
The Knights have high hopes this season after a record breaking season in 2018, as several team and individual scoring records were established. They achieved the best team record (7-3) in the 50-year history of school and qualified for the OCAA provincial championship for the first time in school history.
The Knights take on the No. 1 ranked Fanshawe Falcons Friday at 6 p.m. at Youngs Sportsplex.
Coverage of the Niagara Knights is made possible with the support of the Niagara College Department of Athletics & Recreation. For more information, please visit www.goknights.ca