The University of Regina's women's soccer team recently wrapped up its finest season in program history.
At the core of the team's defence was fifth-year goalkeeper Michelle Anderson, who set a school single-season record with four shutouts this year and became the first U of R soccer player to be named a Canada West first-team all-star.
Anderson admits that it was nice to be recognized by the conference, but is quick to acknowledge the impact that the team had on her personal success.
"It's not just for me, it's for the team too," Anderson said. "I wouldn't have been nearly as successful if it wasn't for them pushing me and helping me to be the athlete that I needed to be to get this recognition."
The massive improvement that the Cougars have shown over the past few seasons - they've increased their point total in each of the last three years - is the product of the team improving its work ethic on and off the field.
"This past off-season, we really focused on getting at least six wins as our goal," Anderson explained. "We dedicated ourselves by going to the gym and doing group bonding activities to maintain our focus."
Anderson's spectacular performance in net belies the fact that she hasn't always been a goalkeeper. She started out her University of Regina career as a forward, scoring four goals and adding two assists during the 2007 season before being moved back by head coach Bob Maltman beginning with her second season.
Anderson has obviously been brilliant at keeper since the move, as she holds every major school career and single-season goalkeeping record. That doesn't mean she doesn't miss playing up front sometimes.
"I would love to play at least one game out," Anderson said. "Just for one game it would be great to have one last chance at forward."
Anderson, who is working towards a degree in Business Administration, decided to take a five-year program so she could take advantage of her five years of athletics eligibility. She's currently enrolled in her fourth year and is debating what her plans will be after graduation.
The 2011 season will mark her final season with the Cougars, and she is hoping the team will continue its ascension up the Canada West ladder.
"I think it's going to become the norm for us," Anderson explained. "People may think our success is luck but it's all hard work, so we're going to start getting the recognition we deserve."